How iPhones helped Elon Musk crush Detroit

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It doesn’t look like he’s crushing anything:

Tesla has only turned a profit in two quarters since its founding in 2003 and their cars went from top quality ratings, to among the worst very shortly after they started to gain market traction. I understand that the article is talking about how some other Silicon Valley company might knock Tesla off of its position, but its position is completely illusory. We’re not talking about how profitable the company is (not) or how good the quality of their product is (also not so great) but how valuable people think it is. That could, and has in the past, change overnight for reasons entirely unrelated to Tesla’s potential competition because it’s merely a matter of people’s opinion of the company. It could come out tomorrow that Musk has a basement full of sex slaves or something and that valuation would drop to nil even though nothing about the company has actually changed, other than the founder being ousted.

And at the end of the day, that’s what people are valuing, and that’s why Musk does what he does. It’s not about saving the world, or making things better for anybody, it’s about feeding is massive ego and being the center of the world’s attention. He’s arguably the biggest publicly visible egomaniac in the world today, putting even Putin and Trump to shame in terms of sheer unbridled need for attention. All of his ventures are about being showered with praise, and making money off of them is secondary to that.

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The problem I have with the opening idea of the article [smart phones provide different freedom for teens, which is troubling to car makers] is that it’s overlooking one thing: cars are hella expensive now. Even overlooking the fact that most teen summer jobs are paying less and are usually taken by desperate adults, used cars are a ticking time bomb of further expense and new cars are usually only available to those with credit. Not to mention gas, insurance, and registration.


But but but …disruptive! Paradigm shift! You have to lose billions to be a successful entrepreneur - just look at the President!


It’s a weird argument, one born from serious ignorance. He points out the industry has weathered disruptions before, failing to mention the crucial years from 2004-2022 where profits were negative (which started before the crash) for both dealers and manufacturers. Besides a reflection of shrinking real incomes, it also reflected Adam Smith’s ideals, as the internet inverted the dealer/buyer dynamic, giving buyers tons of advantages.

My guess is this person only hears about auto innovations from Musk, who is very good at adding existing tech to his car and portraying it as some great advancement on his company’s part alone. As someone in the industry, I can say the cell phone is a huge component of ,most cars these days, with the tech being developed and implemented as quickly as possible. People see the Android Auto/Apple Carplay ads, and don’t realize most cars have already have similar features that app offers.

My guess is this person literally has no idea what they’re talking about. They might as well have been high when they wrote this. When Tesla is making millions of cars without problems, let me know. Until then, its a boutique product with great marketing lucky enough to exist in an economy where the investor class is scooping up most of the money and can thus afford to pay too much to do the right thing in as showy as way as possible.


Wait, what forbidden knowledge do you know?


but none were as pressing as the fact that a new, relatively inexpensive device now appeared to offer teenagers a newfound digital freedom that trumped any analog competitor.

The … bicycle! Kind of been around for ages, though.

Right. I should probably read the article. I’ll go do that.


Exactly. Looking at a sampling of what’s on the road, Detroit is doing OK!

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You mean to say the auto industry might be forced to survive selling mere transportation?

Bikes really are the vinyl to cars’ compact disc

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Pity there’s no digital vinyl I could point to.

That would be perfect for my comment which otherwise just doesn’t work.


Congratulations, the headline hyperbole here exceeds the best or worst of even Doctorow.

Ok, finally got a chance to read this piece… and it’s entirely predicated on Tesla’s stock price which has been grossly inflated by the company’s spending and ability to attract Silicon Valley investors. That’s a very dangerous measure of success.

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