CALIFORNIA DREAMING WITH ELON MUSK
The infante terrible of electric cars and rocket trips is profiled by Ashlee Vance in “Elon Musk” which is entertaining in parts. The prologue is the best read in the book. Much of the narrative is bogged down in detail about his marriages and business associates. (Tom Mueller of St. Maries, Idaho, is one of his rocket scientists.)
Musk is more a marketing genius than a techno whiz kid. He sexed up the electric car using a Mercedes body with aluminum sheet metal, which is the Tesla that caught the attention of the car magazine editors going 0-60 in less than four seconds. Thumbing his nose at conventions, he markets the car directly through Tesla stores at $100,000 to elites. Vance writes that there are plans to introduce a $35,000 vehicle. His assembly plant is in Fremont, Calif., where Toyota and GM once made Corollas, a nasty rental vehicle.
Musk could be the modern day Howard Hughes (another LA eccentric genius) without RKO Radio Pictures and Jane Russell. Rather than insane, Musk is “profoundly gifted,” Vance concludes. But it doesn’t make any difference if you are driving a $100,000 Tesla or a $17,000 Chevy Cruze, you are at a standstill on the Harbor Freeway on the best of days.
Although the electric car is the eco-friendly alternative to the gas engine, more and better mass transit to counter the gridlock is a brighter idea.