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Hey Mac What's Up? - Tesla Skips Chicago Show Amid $$ Crunch

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
Tesla X Shown in Detroit January 2013

By Mac Gordon
Editor at Large
Michigan Bureau
The Auto Channel


Chicago February 13, 2013; Tesla Motors' make-or-break crusade to weather the auto show season and avoid a U.S. Bankruptcy Court came to the crisis stage during the Chicago show in early February. Despite Federal Department of Energy loans of $465 million and infusions from automakers Daimler and Toyota, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asserted during Detroit show weeks that Tesla's all-electric Model S supersedan has tallied more than 13,000 deposits of $5,000 from purchasers.

Production of the Model S at Tesla's Fremont, CA plant has reached a 400-a-week pace, according to the charismatic Musk, who skipped a Chicago display but added Motor Trend magazine's “Car Of The Year” award giving the Tesla S a “big lift.” Echoing this newsletter's reports on such sorry start-up failures as John DeLorean, Preston Tucker and Ford Motor Company's Edsel sedan, Musk reportedly conceded that publicly-owned Tesla has lost money in every quarter since an initial public stock offering in 2010.

“I'm happy,” Musk told Reuters, “we should have a profitable quarter this year. Shame on us if we can't achieve that.”

Musk has ducked interviews with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal , prompting the Journal to include in its piece on the status of Tesla Motors this sentence: “Not since the 1920s has a startup car company managed to survive in the U.S. market.” Besides DeLorean, Tucker, Edsel, Saturn and a host of other brands, all-electric cars which tanked, included the battery-operated Detroit Electric in the 1910s and GM's EV1 and Honda's EV Plus in the 1990s.

Most state auto franchise laws have added a clause forbidding or limiting automaker ownership roles in franchised dealerships. Major auto shows do permit displays produced by dealers and automakers.

The Chicago Auto Trade Association, the dealer association has sponsored the Windy City shows since 1901. It draws the largest attendance of any show at over one million Chicagoans.