When Labor announced its plan to boost the number of electric cars in Australia over the next decade, an election campaign battleground opened up.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused his rival of wanting to “end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric vehicles”; Bill Shorten returned fire by accusing the Government of running a “scare campaign”.
But electric cars aren’t new — they’ve been around for more than a century.
The billionaire is drilling for futuristic transit under Los Angeles. He didn’t have to ask the neighbors first.
Vicky Warren feels like she’s been attacked from all sides lately. Across the street from her rental apartment in the working-class Los Angeles County city of Hawthorne, noisy planes take off and land at all hours, diverted to the local municipal airport from wealthier Santa Monica, where neighbor complaints have restricted air traffic. On the other side of her apartment, cars on the 105 Freeway sound the frustration of L.A. traffic. She’s even getting assailed within her walls: Termites have invaded so completely that she can’t keep any food uncovered. Flea bites cover her legs; rats are aggressively attacking the boxes she has stored in her garage. So Warren was disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that invaders are coming from underground, too.
I talked to a dozen people who live along the tunnel’s route, and most said they hadn’t witnessed any extra noise or traffic. But none had been informed ahead of time that a private company would be digging a tunnel beneath the street. Some only learned about the tunnel in mid-2018—not when the digging started, in 2017—because the company purchased a dilapidated house on 119th Place for nearly $500,000 in cash.
Yet, in many ways, the tunnel is a triumph of privatization. Plans to extend the Los Angeles Metro system under the Sepulveda Pass first went on the ballot in 2016, after years of planning; the project itself won’t be completed for decades, because of federal and state regulations. Musk just needs to find the money. Since the Boring Company is private, it is able to avoid the years of tedious environmental reviews required when the government tries to build transit. It is also exempt from “Buy American” requirements necessary for projects that receive federal funding. This allows the company to try a new technology much faster than if the government got involved. Musk’s SpaceX was able to lower the cost of space travel through private rocketry, and the Boring Company hopes to do the same for tunneling, a spokesman told me.
Musk seems more interested in finding a convenient test site for a bold idea, one that he believes leapfrogs existing technological options, rather than doing the tedious work of improving an old system.
Just because you’re a successful tech mogul doesn’t mean you know how to rescue kids trapped underground.
Heard about @Elonmusk's rescue "submarine"? The cave-diver who masterminded the Thai cave rescue called it a "PR stunt"—that was the politest thing he said. You might be wondering: well, he tried to help. Let me explain with this thread and this NYT piece. https://t.co/ihoqDd8lMf pic.twitter.com/MWicaJKaA6
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) July 15, 2018
Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand. Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try. Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks. Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018
Elon Musk has a beautiful vision for Tesla: Shift the world to clean-powered vehicles, and do it with giant charisma and cool factor.
What other car company would call their fast-acceleration option “ludicrous mode,” and their eco-mode “chill mode”? What other car company is launching the fastest production car ever? What other car company installs a disco mode that makes the car dance?!
Tesla is brilliant at making their cars extremely desirable. If I could find $100,000 and a place to charge it, I’d get one of their Model S sedans in a heartbeat.
“There is a huge part of Tesla that is simply presentation and not substance, and Elon is a master at messaging,” said Karl Brauer, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “The problem is the reality is starting to stack up, and that’s a reality of accidents the cars have had, quality issues, and massive misses on Model 3 production numbers. You add all that up and there’s a real question about whether this company can deliver what it promises.”
The coverage of Elon Musk’s companies is almost always coverage of Elon Musk. That’s how he wants it, of course. Journalists, as mythmakers, seem happy to oblige.