Tesla and the “Insane Mode” of its rise Ruthless Criticism

Translated from GegenStandpunkt 4-21

Tesla and the “Insane Mode” [1] of its rise

The quite normal insanity of a ‘sustainable-green’ market conquest program in 21st century capitalism

“I think we should try to make the future better. It would be better if we mitigated the effects of global warming and had cleaner air in our cities and weren’t drilling for vast amounts of coal, oil and gas in parts of the world that are problematic and will run out anyway.”
“If somebody said you’re gonna pour the liquid remains of dinosaurs into your vehicle and burn them in order to move from one place to another, releasing toxic fumes – and by the way, you better not have your car on in a closed room cause you’re gonna die – you’d say, ‘Why are we doing that?’”
(Elon Musk, in: Rolling Stone, 11.30.17)

“Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transportation/sustainable energy.”
“You will be able to travel for free, forever, using pure sunlight!”
(Elon Musk, in: Insane Mode, p. 72)

This is why millions of Twitter followers love their Elon Musk, the “visionary,” “ingenious” inventor and “idea generator,” when he casually sidelines the diesel and gasoline-powered mobility of global capitalism and presents himself and his company, Tesla, as the ‘savior of humanity’ who, with his ‘mission,’ “prevents Big Auto [the established car companies] from killing the electric car” (Elon Musk). One a whole more mundane level, Musk and his company, Tesla, have won the respect of other parts of the bourgeois world, from insightful managers of established competitors to skeptical climate activists. The e-car pioneer is credited with making the electric powered automobile “market ready” against all kinds of powerful resistance, thus extracting it from the perhaps intellectually appealing but market-irrelevant status of a ‘vision’, an ‘idea’. Tesla is the avant garde of better: When German engineers were still tinkering with thermal windows for their fraudulent “clean diesels”, Tesla put out an emission-free, almost autonomously driving and powerful “smartphone on wheels” and also provided, without any state, for the charging infrastructure needed across the globe and clean solar power production, thus initiating the long overdue “transformation” of “our” civilization into a climate-friendly world.

Of course, in an open democratic society, there are enough “haters” and skeptics who don’t want to fall for the Tesla hype and Musk cult and who don’t like Elon Musk’s personality: They consider him, with his crazy ideas ranging from Mars colonization to ruthless management of his companies, to be a merciless self-promoter, megalomaniacal egotist and – yes, probably even this: a typical American “exploiter” who does not abide by the customs of German labor partnership.

The serious free public diligently collects these moral commentaries with both positive and negative signs and uses them to produce an exemplary pro and con essay. They are interested in the predominant, not so exotic purpose of Musk’s fabulous “breakthrough innovations” in only one respect: whether this project’s calculation works out, i.e. whether it is successful or not. And as long as the production figures and quarterly profits are rising, and the stock market value is heading to a trillion US dollars, Musk, however crazy-genius-brutal-visionary-whatever he may be, is not to be denied recognition: for the richest person in the world, respect, if you almost single-handedly have made Tesla the most innovative and valuable car company in the world!

1. The Tesla “ecosystem”: a capitalist program to conquer the global car market of the future

The free market core of Elon Musk’s Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan [2] to save humanity from climate-damaging emissions with an e-car is Tesla’s corporate strategy of not limiting itself to the millions of dollars that can be tapped from the rich and famous in Hollywood and elsewhere with a few thousand luxury vehicles. With his entry into the luxury class of the car market, Musk is aiming to gradually develop his start-up into a mass manufacturer in one of the world’s most money-intensive markets, which is tilled by such potent capitals as VW, Toyota and others. He has set his sights high. After all, entering into this market of a key industry is not just a matter of presenting some ‘visionary new’ service for which you mobilize a bunch of computer capacity, an office and a lot of cheap labor.

The oligopoly of just a dozen corporations, enriched by some of their Chinese creations which have grown into independent competitors, develop with their command over an army of engineers in the beat of a few years and entirely according to its standards, ever newer and more perfect use values that make their competition’s products look old. In the same beat, they have used their capital power to renew the technological potencies with which a maximum of automobiles of corresponding quality can be produced with a minimum of paid labor on assembly lines. In this way, the established corporations that control the world market not only define the level of industrial progress, i.e. the labor productivity at which vehicles can be profitably produced. But with their need for a variety of materials and intermediate products which they need for the profitable production of the most complex use value that enters into private consumption in society, they also set the standards for a few other spheres of capital which the auto companies have made into their global supply chains, so that they are equipped as exclusively as possible with the most profitable means of production in the struggle for profitable production: From chemical-metallurgical raw materials industries to electronics to globally scattered and organized component manufacturers, entire divisions of capital in a number of nations function essentially as suppliers to the masters of the global automotive market.

Elon Musk wants to conquer these cozy conditions of the key industry ‘automobile’ which floods the world with about 100 million vehicles every year, and for this he spells out the techniques of a capitalist-industrial upheaval in exemplary fashion. Firstly, with the development of a ‘revolutionary-innovative’ product that, on the one hand, achieves a technological advantage with a unique selling point over the combustion engine vehicles that have been perfected over decades: Because of the electric motor, operation is significantly more efficient in terms of energy and locally emission-free; in accordance with the technical requirements of the electric motor, the vehicle is redesigned from scratch to integrate the heavy battery in the vehicle floor; a new IT architecture around a potent central computer allows further development of the automobile over its life cycle (“over-the-air update”) and, in interaction with sensors of all kinds, higher levels of driving assistance. At the same time, this newly defined use value is on a par with outdated products in terms of range and driving performance. Secondly, in order to meet the finely differentiated tastes of the global public, as it has been created by the extensive profit interests of the established car industry, and its varying degrees of ability to pay, Tesla is gradually setting up a whole range of models and, with a great deal of propaganda and promises – see Musk’s sayings above – is also creating a moral advantage for its products: Tesla creates a brand image that exploits the green climate-concerned environmental conscience and reconciles it with the performance and technology fetishism of modern consumers who want their successful personality represented in their own cars.

This ‘marvel’ of technological and advertising expertise – almost embarrassing to recall, but perhaps necessary given the Musk legends about Tesla products – has to prove itself as a commodity of the company. And thirdly, it is absolutely essential that the newly defined properties of the Tesla Roadster/S/X/3/Y models are and remain the exclusive vested right of the Tesla company, i.e. its property. Tesla does everything allowed in terms of secrecy and the beneficial achievements of property and patent laws enforced worldwide by the world trading nations to exclude the established competitors from its own leading edge as far as possible – so much for Musk’s “saving humanity” from climate change with innovations ... [3] After all, this is the first of the crucial special position at which the commodity sells, and certainly not at any price. The big corporations with their superior productivity and mass of products define the market price for this and that class of automobiles; and because of their financial power, Musk or Tesla can afford – see point 3 – to forego the all-important capitalist quality of profitable sales through cost-effective production of the commodity automobile for quite some time: For years, Tesla has sold cars at the predetermined market price for luxury cars regardless of its own far higher production costs, as they incur when a start-up assembles cars more or less in low volume production from components bought on the world market. [4]

What Musk has to afford here, he can afford thanks to the tremendous financial power standing behind his start-up. It actually allows him to mobilize even larger advances in the absence of any significant cash returns for acquiring the development and production of strategic parts of the commodity as a sphere of his own future business, thus increasing the “vertical integration”. Tesla systematically expands the necessary conditions of consumption with a charging network which the company offers to customers as a free service for a while, and excludes commercial capital from profiting by selling the commodity exclusively via the internet: “Musk wants to control the whole experience [!] around Tesla. From designing the battery packs to programming the software to manufacturing the vehicles, building the components, managing the infrastructure, and selling the products ...”[5] Moreover, the “full stack” start-up Tesla is tapping into new business areas one step at a time to form an entire “ecosystem” – as the free market transgressiveness of modern capital on multiple industries is trivialized these days – before it has even made a profit on its car business. Tesla appropriates other people’s productive property, actually takes over the energy company Solar City and thus makes the production and consumption of renewable energy with and without cars its business.

Because that’s what it’s all about: Tesla docks in a totally affirmative way to the globally enforced beauties of fossil-fueled individual transportation for which which countries and peoples have been turned into so-called “car (driver) nations”, in order to overtake the established competition with their outdated products with its oh so “innovative” commodity system, with which it has (had) a unique selling point on the car market, and to conquer the world market for itself as a source of enrichment. Tesla products and the business with their consumption should hit the market as commodities in massive numbers and make Tesla rise to a “global player” on this world market. This project is a capitalist conquest program on a huge scale because the 4 trillion dollar market on which this program is raising hell is already characterized by takeovers and mergers, [6] by discount battles and claims to world market leadership for which achieved market shares are always too small even without the Californian newcomer. On this market, it is essentially a matter of displacing or even destroying the competitors whose business areas and shares one wants to take over. With Tesla, the construction of half a dozen gigafactories on greenfield sites and the associated growth claims, there is another competitor in the world who is heating up this free market battle with millions of additional vehicles in order to win it for itself – by making the productive potentials of the competitors, both of the material and human kind, capitalistically redundant.

The fact that this has become more than just another case of a niche manufacturer burning out like a meteorite, starting with the installation of a few thousand 18650 laptop cells in the chassis of an English sports car manufacturer, is completely outside the scope of this “ingenious” project. Tesla is the object of weighty political-economic interests: on the one hand, the long term location policy of World Power No. 1 in particular and of all the large car nations in general, and on the other hand, financial-capitalist speculation which as a quasi-unlimited source of finance provides Elon Musk or his company with the necessary capital size as a decisive means of self-assertion on the market.

2. Precondition and basis of the Tesla ‘vision’: The energy and mobility policies of the major auto nations

The systematic absurd practice of material automobile overproduction, resulting from the mobility needs of capitalist commodity production and its figures and resulting in car cities, endless traffic jams and a chronic increase of climate-impacting and climate-damaging gases in the atmosphere, has always suggested only one direction to the USA and the other major car nations of the world: Turning more nature and living space into roads and, with increasing traffic density, limiting the pollutants per car by law to the level at which their people can still make ends meet to some extent in terms of health.

Somewhat differently than patriotic fans of the German auto industry might conjecture with their ideas about an interminably backward America with its gas-guzzling pickup trucks, the USA (especially in the form of the California Environmental Protection Agency and several other US states) has been promoting electromobility as a nationally relevant innovation for about 20 years and with the stamina of its dollar-denominated financial power: it has established a points system that requires e-car quotas; the Department of Energy has set up a $25 billion loan program, and $7,500 tax credits reward the purchase of “advanced cars” which, according to strictly market logic, encourages the development, production and sale of zero-emission vehicles, including the necessary energy infrastructure. [7] As a decisive premise of these e-mobility subsidies, the US state firmly grasps that, first, the productive business of individual automobile transportation must continue to take place on its territory on an ever-increasing scale in the future. And secondly, with subsidy programs whose impact extends beyond the auto industry itself, it is setting a very important course for its national project of establishing the production and consumption of renewable energies as a weighty (business) alternative to oil and gas. In this sense, US mobility and energy policy is targeting the current fossil-fueled business means of the auto companies as long-term barriers to the national capital location: It regards internal combustion technology – with all due respect for the outmoded business means of its capital – to be largely exhausted, both technically and commercially; a massive reduction in pollutants can only be achieved with increasing costs, if technically at all; in any case, the state’s measures are making this technology more expensive than alternative, advanced technologies, so that financial incentives are established for start-up companies and large corporations [8] to invent new products as a means of doing business in accordance with their private drive to increase money, and to use them to establish growth markets of “the future” or to reconquer old markets; at least so that, in the battle for growth, they manage to increase capital in a way that can no longer be achieved with the old products. [9]

So, according to all the rules of capitalist location policy, the USA is promoting with impressive dollar sums a capital competition which is being conducted on its soil by its auto-industrial complex by means of technical progress – for the future dollar revenues globally generated from the business with four wheels and without CO2s. In Tesla, the USA has found an object worthy of promotion in all these respects: on the technical side, Tesla on its own is developing and producing market-ready products for emission-free mobility in California, i.e. on US soil. And with the established companies Daimler-Benz and Toyota participating financially significantly in the Silicon Valley start-up, it is not only US state subsidies that are flowing. Government agencies ranging from universities to the military also emerge as wealthy customers of the energy division Tesla Energy – a further contribution to the company having survived the promises of the first few years and achieving the status of a high-growth industrial capital. [10]

Another branch of US state power also contributes to this status. The US justice system is not only damaging Tesla’s European competitors and their diesel world market strategy, [11] but is also making an impression on political will, especially in Germany. Perhaps different in scope and speed, but in principle the same, all powerful states that are home to an auto industry are pursuing this kind of location and energy policy, thus generalizing entry into e-mobility into an irreversible, globally enforced competitive state of affairs for the auto industry in the USA, China, Europe and Japan. [12] Elon Musk and his company are freeloading on this: It is only political guidelines that have turned the Tesla business model into a business prospect for the entire world market and gains Tesla the interested attention of financial speculators in their grueling search for opportunities to make more money out of money.

3. The real decision-making authority on the existence or non-existence of this innovative enrichment program: finance capital and its speculation on ‘the future’

The development of an exclusive market-ready new use value, an expansive business model connected with it, and – above all: the commitment of the major states to making the switch to climate-friendly mobility products mandatory for their capitals, are the political-economic stuff that constitutes the “gigantic future” which Tesla is offering to all asset owners and managers for purchase. Since its founding in 2004, Tesla as a public limited company has offered investors nothing but participation in the prospect of future profits, because for the first 15 years the company has not been profitable from the production and sale of cars: Sporadically reported profits come from the coffers of the established corporations, which buy pollution rights from Tesla because of the state-imposed CO2 regime, in order to continue to do business with their fossil-fueled vehicles, so it can be said with some justification that Tesla’s “actual product has always been new promises for the future.” [13] Tesla lives and survives on the steady and growing influx of money capital that in its boundlessness wanders the world seeking risky investments and increasingly finds them in Tesla: Musk periodically increases Tesla’s operating assets and financial strength through ever larger issues of new shares.

The NASDAQ or Dow Jones stock market listing of Tesla generalizes this speculation on Tesla and adds the defining moment to the speculative greed for money: the public trading of Tesla shares shows an eternally rising share price; investors can watch their financial assets invested in Tesla shares grow in the daily published stock exchange reports; this attracts more speculators with their need for an increasing mass of investment in the form of Tesla shares, which the company gladly accommodates and issues new shares whose increased mass rises again in price, etc. etc.

This self-referentiality of the financial capitalist speculative circle brings doubt of success as a constant companion to the event and demands data and promises from the company and its leader that slay the doubt or feed the growing speculative interest in Tesla securities. Elon Musk and his Tesla propaganda are adept at the fine art of feeding this speculative interest and keeping it going: In annual “Battery Days” and other “events” as well as daily company news, they publicly give the low-down on the durability and expansion of Tesla’s technological lead (in the construction of electric energy storage or the growing capabilities of the “autopilot”) as a guarantee of growing future business; grandstanding in terms of announcing new models years in advance, increasing production numbers and the technical performance of the cars are just as much part of this solid handiwork as Musk’s self-dramatization as the avatar of an unbeatable offer to global money capital: On the one hand, Musk presents himself as a restless ‘visionary’ who transcends all boundaries of what is conceivable and feasible, who constantly launches exotic future projects ranging from Mars colonization to Hyperloop and artificial intelligence. On the other hand, Musk’s enormous private fortune has sufficiently proven that he also embodies the likable success figure who, by virtue of his basic market economy qualifications, makes money out of everything: He successfully tells humankind what market-economy needs it will soon have in order to make satisfying them the material of his private enrichment by turning his visions into the coveted object of financial capitalist speculation. This provides Musk with the necessary capital to make humankind happy with his ‘visions’, i.e. transfer them into the status of real wheeling and dealing. [14]

Musk’s company Tesla has indeed come close to bankruptcy on a few occasions, namely whenever speculation takes into account its doubts about the success of the speculative circle and the constantly necessary influx of money drops for a short time. All in all, however, the investors in their speculative “logic” catapult Tesla into the most valuable car manufacturer in the world, which, with a stock market value of one trillion US dollars, is worth as much as all its competitors combined, and gives the business idea a capitalist reality: with this tour de force of the US capital market, Tesla taps into a virtually inexhaustible financial power to successfully advance the production and marketing of its commodities. [15] However, the commitment of finance capital, which evaluates Tesla’s share price as if it has already defeated all its competitors on this market, thus sets the standard of success that Tesla absolutely needs to meet: A permanent growth of its business with the gigafactories is required – sufficient to underpin the positive calculation of the finance capitalists on the further increase in value of their commitment and thus to keep the speculative pep talk going on which Tesla is dependent.

4. The entrepreneurial struggle to profitably produce e-cars in the world’s key markets

“Welcome to production hell!” (Elon Musk, in; Insane Mode, p. 292)

One thing that should perhaps be mentioned in this context has already worked out quite well for Elon Musk: With the rampant speculation on his company, of which he is the largest single shareholder, he has become its largest money maker and one of the richest people in the world – almost without exploiting living labor in the factory and office. For the man with his entrepreneurial mission, however, the next step is to use the financial resources donated to him by investors to forge at “Tesla speed” a globally operating production apparatus which in its size has the decisive quality to defeat the emerging competition in terms of e-cars on the market.

Because the monopolistic lead that Tesla has in product and production processes for batteries, drive control and IT architecture, and the sale of CO2 certificates, its previous source of profit, have an expiration date: The auto multinationals themselves are accelerating their “transformation” and forging their means of success with the power of their capital size. Tesla must exploit its technological monopoly so quickly and comprehensively that it produces e-cars on a scale that is profitable and captures crucial market shares before the competition follows suit and floods the market with their wares across the board. Tesla uses its financial power for this: the expansion of production to a size that is disproportionate to the previous size of the company, but asserting itself on the world market against its competitors, i.e. assuming the capitalist market success that can only be achieved with the envisaged expansion: Tesla plans and organizes a multiplication of annual production from a few hundred thousand to several million e-cars within a few years through the simultaneous construction of gigafactories on the decisive continents. In this, Tesla makes use of all the achievements of modern world capitalism beyond state subsidies, such as, for example:

– Tesla is making use of the necessary intellectual potencies and is recruiting and poaching IT engineers in particular in the El Dorado of digitization companies, Silicon Valley.
– With the prospect of dominating the market for the absolutely key technology for e-mobility – the construction and evolution of vehicle batteries – right from the start, the Californian start-up commits itself to an alliance with the global multinational Panasonic, from which the competition is excluded, so that Tesla exclusively and abruptly overcomes the “bottleneck” with the Gigafactory 1 and produces batteries in mass production, i.e. gigawatt hour capacity.
– Tesla engineers are re-exploring entire countries (DR Congo, Indonesia) for their ability to harness their raw materials into Tesla’s supply chains so that the company has long term strategic access to key raw materials at rewarding prices for the production of battery and powertrain – a new ‘green’ chapter is being opened in the old wretchedness there, as entire regions of the world, including their populations, are pinned down to the shabby role of supplying capital with raw materials.
– In order to have the necessary potential for a profitable production process for automobiles and solar energy with the corresponding labor productivity, Tesla not only appropriates the productive property of others (the German plant manufacturer Grohmann; the US solar company SolarCity) by virtue of its financial power. Tesla has long been setting and advancing the standards for competition on its assembly lines in terms of saving paid labor through more productive machinery. [16]

Elon Musk, in his 17-hour working day, organizes an army of workers to operate this global production arrangement which has to be set up and, above all, used as quickly as possible – which makes it clear for whom and for what the production of ‘green’ cars is becoming “hell.” Tesla consistently holds the workforce accountable as a maneuvering mass for delivering the corporate imperatives of production at competitive quality.

In return, Tesla does not tolerate any consideration or barriers in dealing with the workforce, whether by a trade union, collective bargaining or of a state nature. [17] Tesla is serious about total sovereignty over the workforce and prohibits any kind of participation by the workforce in its assembly plants (work councils), successfully prevents and hinders any collective representation of interests (unions) and can freely control key data in terms of wages and performance by setting back each employee in his powerlessness: Working hours are unrestricted in regular disregard of government regulations when rework and improvements have to be made around the clock and everywhere in production so that production growth occurs within the specified times and rates; all claims are settled with the monthly salary, no matter how long it takes for the work to meet the required production goals; and when it comes to wage levels, Tesla claims collective bargaining power for itself, thus ignoring collectively negotiated wages. That is the essence of Elon Musk’s public message to all Tesla employees that they have a great opportunity to participate in a “mission” that does not and will not tolerate insistence on petty regulations such as a 40 hour work week, etc. Moreover, this participation includes Tesla paying out parts of wages in stock options, i.e., withholding them as a capital advance, and thus also making the employees liable for winning the competition for the future business with automobiles. As open as this result is, the effect of “Tesla speed” on the workforce is clear: In the assembly plants in the USA, which have been in production for years, Tesla is recording record levels – in the wear and tear of the workforce, which is recognizable in illness, turnover and industrial accident rates.

5. A gigafactory for Grünheide/Brandenburg: a prime example of what is meant by climate-neutral industrial modernization in Germany

The German state finds this capitalist new beginning so attractive that it has devised some remarkable updates for its forms of cooperation with Tesla capital in terms of opening up the state territory for the needs of capitalist growth. The approval and promotion of the gigafactory in Grünheide/Brandenburg by the red-black-green coalition in Brandenburg could in its way be a thoroughly groundbreaking blueprint for a coalition government in Berlin if this new center of progress modernizes the entire business location of Germany industrially, i.e. trims it into a digital and climate-neutral success of capital.

For ‘Gigafactory 4’[18], the state authorities, with a certain courage to take risks, allot the company a forest area of several hundred hectares east of Berlin, which is located upstream to a relevant water protection area. This may be affected in the case of industrial pollutant inputs, but this should not be an objection to the determination of the state authorities to accommodate the needs of the company in every respect: Tesla has demanded a location on the outskirts of the Berlin metropolitan region which, in addition to a modern major airport and rail and road transport infrastructure, allows it access to both a highly qualified technological workforce, including state research centers, and a willing, non-union cheap proletariat. [19] Tesla’s special requirement is approval and construction at “Tesla speed” for the above reasons, which is why the company quite presumptuously proposes that German authorities “immediately make fundamental changes to licensing and zoning and planning laws” (SZ, 4.9.21). The authorities have a lot to gain from this private capitalistic sense of entitlement to immediate subservience from the state bureaucracy [20] and explicitly make the special Tesla competitive strategy into their cause: In ostentatiously hands-on self-criticism, the state government bypasses legal approval processes, grants 19 advance permits for clearing the forest and building the plant, and exempts Tesla from state restrictions on working hours. [21] This is the state’s way of deliberately creating facts that practically disgrace the Water Resources Board’s concerns about water demand and safety and hundreds of objections from local citizens' groups. During construction work, they are fed perfectly into the judicial system and cleared away step by step by the judicial authorities. [22] The second update concerns state cooperation in attracting labor for the company: The Brandenburg Employment Agency sets up offices on the factory premises and sees itself as an extended arm of Tesla in the cross-border recruitment of cheap labor from Central Eastern Europe. This is also a way of making the wage-performance ratios that Tesla has established as the large-scale industrial norm at the German site into law as desired by the state. [23] Trade union warnings that Tesla should please comply with the German collective bargaining system and the right of co-determination are heard and dismissed. Otherwise, around 1.4 billion euros in subsidies flow to Tesla from European and German state coffers.

This partisanship of the German state for an American corporation does not please everyone. Left-wing and right-wing patriots suspect undemocratic, non-transparent procedures in the approval process when this goes ahead, doubt the national benefit of so much “special treatment” in terms of future tax money and jobs, and suspect a prostitution of German power that is raising the foreign competitor to a threat to the domestic auto industry in the first place.

This case is almost paradigmatic of what is meant by the slogan “digital and climate-neutral modernization of Germany.” When the governing politicians hand over an entire region to Tesla’s speculation that it will conquer the car market, they are making themselves partisans of the successful combination of standard-setting sovereignty over labor and technological power which promises to become a source of future national growth with its innovative products. This is because the American newcomer with its development and production departments is entered into the books by the democratic guardians of the business location as a new, additional weapon for the industrial offensive that Germany is launching as a leading automotive location against the competing locations in Europe and the rest of the world. [24] The fact that a very potent capital like Tesla is settling in business location Germany, that it does not have to “transform” or decarbonize itself for this offensive but is already operating on a large scale with the business resources of the “Green New Deal” – this is undoubtedly a stroke of luck for Germany (e.g. Oliver Krischer of the Green Party, representing the rest). The fact that an “economically undeveloped = undercapitalized” region is being newly harnessed for this purpose – all the better for the nation.

[1] Title from: Hamish McKenzie: Insane Mode: How Elon Musk's Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil, New York 2018. The title cites the particularly sporty driving program in Tesla vehicles that the manufacturer uses to advertise the competitiveness of its products: Acceleration of a ground-to-ground rocket, road handling, etc., etc. The term, like “Tesla Speed,” became a catchphrase for the group’s rapid rise to the world’s most valuable manufacturer.

[2] The quintessence of Musk’s ingenious master plan in the Tesla company blog on 2/8/2006: “Build sports car. Use that money to build an affordable car. Use that money to build an even more affordable car. While doing above, also provide zero emission electric power generation options. Don't tell anyone.”

[3] At the beginning of Tesla’s career, Musk briefly and of course publicly offered to open up the patents, just as if he were now really concerned with the fastest possible general distribution of e-cars. The small condition: the established corporations should in turn – in exchange – disclose their technological capabilities and patents for the profitable production of a vehicle. But this barter deal never came to pass...

[4] The first Tesla "Roadster" model is being assembled at a cost price of 200,000 US dollars – with a calculated selling price around 90,000.

[5] McKenzie, p. 232

[6] The most recent major example: the takeover of Opel by PSA and its merger with FCA to form the Stellantis group, which aims to survive and determine this destructive competition by producing around 10 million vehicles per year.

[7] All manufacturers must sell a minimum quota of zero-emission vehicles; in so-called CO2 pooling, credit points for sold e-cars are tradable among manufacturers, i.e. Tesla with its 100% electric cars is doing a business with traditional competitors who to date have under-fulfilled the quotas and must buy points from Tesla.

[8] Of course, the established US companies also tried entering the market with “advanced driver assistance systems,” but they abandoned production due to a lack of profitability, bankruptcy and sharply falling gasoline prices.

[9] The fact that this funding of the future-oriented auto industry and everything that goes with it will not “solve” the “mobility problem” in cities and countrysides is a false objection made by critics of the auto industry in general and Tesla skeptics in particular: The relevant auto states are not failing to solve a problem here; they are doing everything in their power to ensure that the insanity with the commodity of the car, roads, etc. can continue at an increased level with e-mobiles!

[10] Technical innovation is not enough reason for the US state to provide funding. It has to prove to be unequivocally profitable: The US Department of Energy’s 2008 loan of $465 million is tied to the condition that Tesla produces a new e-car and pioneering battery technology and that Tesla doesn’t need further subsidies in the future, i.e. that profitability is achieved. What is convincing for the department is the business success that has already been achieved, i.e. the interest of participating in the battery supply contracts with Daimler-Benz and Toyota. As Tesla’s size increases, so do the subsidies for American technological progress: Tesla receives another $1.9 billion in government funds for the construction of the first battery gigafactory in cooperation with Panasonic in Reno, Nevada.

[11] See the article: “Vom imperialistischen Charakter von Stickoxidwerten, Betrugssoftware und Fahrverboten” in GegenStandpunkt 4-17 [untranslated].

[12] For years, the EU and China have been pushing automakers toward zero-emission engines with their CO2 reduction regimes, coupled with quota regulations, penalties, and incentive bonuses for electric vehicles.

[13] Edward Niedermeyer: Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors, Dallas 2019, p. 65.

[14] Musk made hundreds of millions of dollars at the turn of the millennium, at the height of the so-called “internet bubble,” by selling internet companies that he founded, such as Paypal, in the advertising and payment industries. He became Tesla’s CEO by eliminating the company’s founders and pushing them out of the company. The rise of his successful space company SpaceX owes much to the US government’s desire to award space projects to private companies.

[15] This financial power now commands the utmost respect from the boards of the established competition, because he really does have the capital size to make life difficult for them: “Additional cost reductions and a faster restructuring of his company are crucial in order to survive against the new American rivals with strong financial power, VW CEO Diess said in an interview with the Bloomberg agency. He is concerned not only with how VW can keep up with Tesla, but also with the risk that Apple, another powerful competitor with almost unlimited financial resources, could enter the car market. ‘What has really changed – and what I would not have expected to the same extent – is the capital markets’ view of our industry,’ Diess said.” (FAZ, 1.7.21)

[16] Tesla is pushing forward with the ideal of a fully automated factory and has introduced a new die-casting machine that reduces the number of parts used to make a complete car body from 70 to four; nearly half of a vehicle is formed from one piece.

[17] Nor does Musk tolerate government-ordered interruptions to production: aware of his company’s systemic relevance, he expressly disregards the corona-related plant closure in Fremont, California, and threatens to relocate the plant to Texas in the event of government sanctions – and is proven right and allowed to ramp up production.

[18] Production factories for cars and batteries are planned in Grünheide. Excluding suppliers, Tesla expects to employ 40,000 people in the final expansion stage.

[19] No joke, this is how Musk publicly advertised for workers on Twitter: “Please work at Tesla Giga Berlin! It will be super-fun!”

[20] The Federal Ministry of Transport comments: “We fully share the concern to further accelerate planning and approval procedures in Germany.” (SZ, 4.9.21)

[21] “Elon Musk wants the first cars to roll off the production line in Grünheide before the end of 2021. The time pressure is great. With both permits [meaning the latest preliminary approvals from the state environmental agency], Tesla is now allowed to work around the clock on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. For the agency, fast construction is also in the public interest. This is because the accelerated implementation of such projects for the energy and mobility turnaround is ‘necessary in order to be able to achieve the ambitious climate protection goals.’ Tesla itself has a legitimate interest because of the growing e-car competition, the notices say: ‘With a Model Y produced in Germany, the European market potential for this can be served in time, if a production start in 2021 can be realized.’” (Tagesspiegel, 9/16-21)

[22]“‘In the meantime, the deadline for objections has expired and the concerns raised do not indicate that there are any significant obstacles to the project being approved,’ both approvals issued by the state environmental agency state. The content of the concerns raised is known and ‘was sufficiently taken into account in determining the overwhelming likelihood of a permit being granted’. More explosive is that the agency made a preliminary decision on the water issue, which is considered the most serious. With the 16th permit granted, Tesla is allowed to construct various infiltration and fire-fighting water basins according to the new decentralized precipitation drainage concept, against which the Strausberg-Erkner Water Association (WSE), as well as the Nature Conservation Union and the Green League, raised considerable objections in the main proceedings. The basins lead into the upper aquifer, and the factory is partly located in a drinking water protection area. Of all the institutions that were asked for comments, only the WSE raised concerns about the premature construction of the basins. The authority considers them to be unfounded.” (Ibid.)

[23] For VW boss Diess, at any rate, Tesla’s wage and performance ratios represent the competitor’s state of affairs which he refers to when VW, for its part, goes on the offensive, cutting paid labor at its main Wolfsburg plant in order to improve the profitability of e-car production: “‘There is no question that we have to address the competitiveness of our plant in Wolfsburg in view of the new market players,’ the group said. Tesla will ‘set new standards in productivity and scale’ in Grünheide, it added.” (FAZ, 10.14.21)

[24] The decisive condition for the advance approvals was Tesla’s promise to set up not only assembly plants in Germany, but also a development center where scientific-technological foundations, especially for energy storage for motor vehicles, are promoted as competitive weapons of capital.