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Tesla and Elon Musk Should Get the Attention They Deserve: A Lot Less Than Now

Mahmood Hikmet started his latest video expressing something automotive journalists covering electric cars also feel. Most of us are fed up with talking about Tesla. Anything the company or its CEO does automatically generates headlines, and, frankly, very few of them really need reporting. The solution is simple: let’s give both of them the attention they deserve, not the one they have.
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Lately, all that the company is delivering and deserves to be told is bad news: a video game that works while the car is moving, lawsuits against Chinese customers or former employees, a driver monitoring system that does not prevent distracted driving… There’s plenty more from where these facts came from. Yet, just check the news, and you will see people talking about any tweet Musk posts.

A recent and sad example is Tesla’s light show, deployed in the Happy Holidays update. It may be fun, but it is not only useless: it is also making headlights in some vehicles fail. Check if you have read about it anywhere. Ironically, these defective headlights get back to work with the light show but cease to work when it is over. This is the only thing important enough to report about that feature.

That’s clearly a software defect, which leads to another question: did Tesla test this update well enough before deploying it? Checking Tesla’s records with quality control and other bad news coming from the company, does it test anything at all? This is something worth asking. Not by coincidence, Tesla decided not to speak to the press anymore – at least not with people that do not adulate it.

Somehow, it seems important that the Tesla CEO teases American politicians, makes promises he will not deliver on time (if ever), what his opinion is on a variety of topics none of his companies has anything to do with... It is a festival of irrelevance and an attention bubble. Hopefully, it will eventually burst.

Curiously, some of these tweets emerge when Tesla or SpaceX faces tough situations. A regular company would require Musk to respond to them surrounded by a team of PR specialists. The latest example was when a Tesla worker killed another at the Fremont parking lot. Musk has not spoken a single word about that. He probably shared a meme with no connection whatsoever with the issue – or teased another politician to generate different headlines.

Sycophant websites help to amplify this non-news as if they were crucial for people that do not even have a Tesla. At the same time, they ignore whatever does not put Tesla in a positive light or try to distort the news to defend Musk and his company. Some of them confess they invest in the EV maker. Some just omit that.

Meanwhile, serious journalists eventually have to cover the same topics because everybody is talking about them. Some others manage to escape that and focus on what will really make a difference either for Tesla customers or people who share the same spaces with these vehicles, such as those with the bad luck to be around a Tesla on FSD.

The issue with talking about something so intensely is that it gains a weight it would not have otherwise. A good example of that is Alpha Motors. Apart from lovely designs, the company has not presented a single credible effort to build a car so far.

In a recent interview with “The Verge,” the two baristas that the company hired to represent it said they are now full-time executives and that Alpha wants to do things differently. However, they did not explain what that means apart from presenting an absurd number of designs that no startup would ever have the capacity to build. Even established carmakers wouldn’t.

Websites in desperate need of quick news gave it the same relevance companies with products for sale had when it emerged. They kept doing that until some journalists decided to question where Alpha came from and what it wanted to do. It was enough for people to realize Alpha should just get articles and headlines when it is more clear about its plans. Until then, its beautiful CGIs are just a distraction, at best.

Tesla produces almost 1 million cars per year. It has four models for sale, a massive fast-charging network, and a surreal market cap. That said, it does not have to prove it is for real anymore. Even so, the company and its CEO made promises they never fulfilled. Some would be easy to dismiss with a simple check.

Musk kept repeating Giga Grünheide would make cars this year. He also said the Cybertruck would be produced in 2021. The issue is that this pickup truck needs something Tesla still does not have: 4680 cells. How can a factory and a product that depend on such a crucial component operate without it? It is simple logic. Yet, there are people giving away Tesla Cybertrucks…

This shows the press would better start sorting the wheat from the chaff. Yes, there’s pressure to cover everything before anyone else. However, some things should just be ignored until they really make a difference or at least sense, for the record. I can tell you there’s a lot of people trying to do precisely that. Thankfully, new companies and new efforts from established companies give us plenty of news to cover. That’s what Hikmet said he was craving to do instead of talking about Tesla’s reckless approach to autonomous driving. Please wish us good luck with that.

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Editor's note: The gallery shows one of Elon Musk's bolder promises – the quest for robotaxis – and how that is going with FSD.

 
 
 
 
 

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