Nikola Tesla

American Automakers: A Cautionary Tale

The American Automobile

America has done so many things well for dozens of decades. Farming, industrial, health, manufacturing and technology are but a few of the practices that have flourished in our fledgling democracy. You name it we have been leaders. It has been said, “They make airplanes in Everett (Boeing’s primary assembly point), every one else is still working on it.” But as is always case, people, cultures and politics eventually catch up, and indeed in many cases we have been surpassed. The idea of the horseless carriage was truly a global desire. Countries across the world came up with early designs and prototypes, trying to solve the same problem of getting someplace faster and easier.

Henry Ford founded his company in 1903 and once he invented the assembly line, the automotive industry was born. After an amazing head start, American car manufacturers lost their way in the late 1990’s into the 21st century, and are just now clawing back the public trust and loyalty.

Growing up I had two uncles who were mechanics plus one who drove race cars on the midwest super modified circuit. I watched these open-wheeled cars dash around a high-banked, dirt quarter mile oval track every Sunday night. When a back injury forced my race driving uncle to retire, guess what he did. He sold cars. First Chevrolet where he would say that Ford meant “found on road dead.” Then he got a better offer from the Ford dealership and suddenly it stood for “first on race day.” Cars are most definitely part of my heritage. As soon as the new car models were in the showroom, my dad would drive me from dealership to dealership looking under the hood, in the trunk, inspecting the interiors. It was sacred annual pilgrimage.

GM Then and Now

General Motors headquarters buildings, then and now

GM was the only way to go in our family. Once my dad bought an MG Roadster for fun and it literally fell apart before our eyes. Needless to say I was influenced by him and was a charter member of the GM fan club when it came time for me to choose a car. He did all the maintenance himself. Oil changes, brakes, timing, tune-ups, mufflers. Whatever it needed he did and I was right there learning from him.

I gravitated to Chevrolet. My first car was a 1969 Nova that I drove to high school before I was properly licensed. Times were different then. This was followed by two Monte Carlos, then a Buick. Ownership of these cars was annoying. Each car had its own peculiar issue. Some place along the way GM changed the trunk mechanism from a simple mechanical hinge to hydraulic mechanism which was bound to fail. Why make that change? The old design worked fine and never needed attention no matter how long you kept the car. I was young and didn’t have the money to repair all these things, so I just bumped my head every time I put something in the trunk. There were many other problems with seals, transmissions, air conditioning, starting in cold or wet weather, flooding, starters and overheating. It was a part time job to keep these contraptions working.

Losing their Way

In the early 1990’s I was on a business trip to Philadelphia and rented a Pontiac. I don’t recall which model. As I approached the car I couldn’t believe what I saw. Where had the styling gone? No stance, no statement at all. It got worse once I sat down behind the wheel. This was the same brand that gave us the GTO? Everything reeked of cheap, cutting corners, absolute bare minimum. Driving it was the absolute worst. Shaky, no power. It did not feel safe.

A few weeks later I was traveling westward, but this time the rental choice was a Toyota Camry. My reaction was just the opposite. Substantial car. Nice interior, lots of features, clean design. Oh yeah, it was a pleasure to drive. That rental (call it a test drive) didn’t necessarily convert me to buy a Japanese car as much as it made it clear I did not want a Pontiac. Within weeks I was driving a brand new 1993 Toyota Camry.

It’s my belief that you can boil down American’s car problems in the early 2000’s to the following:

  • Arrogance
  • Inertia
  • Lack of consumer understanding
  • Ivory tower syndrome

Arrogance is the easiest to understand, ”We make the best cars in the world.” Like the Boeing quote. End of conversation. One of the worst things that can happen to corporate America is success. It fuels a conservative perspective and stifles real innovation. When I say innovation I don’t mean trying nylon seats on a low end model.

Inertia is more subtle. The assembly line to showroom chain was a finely honed process for American car makers. One of my uncles lived in Lansing, Michigan where there was an Oldsmobile plant. As a child he took me on a plant tour and I marveled at how all the parts came together like a well choreographed production number. They got them off the line and onto the dealer lots efficiently. In 2008 GM alone produced 8.35 million cars with 5.37 million of them sold outside the United States. Worldwide today over 165,000 cars are produced everyday. A well oiled machine to say the least.

Even though cars were a significant expense for the average family, they were still relatively affordable for many years. My father didn’t make a lot of money as an electrical engineer, but he paid cash for every car he ever bought, trading up to a new GM model every couple of years. He was a Pontiac man and loved the sedans. Here’s the bill of sale from his purchase of a 1961 Pontiac Tempest Safari station wagon (the first SUV). Total price $3,249.35.

Scan

The boomers were coming of driving age in the late 1970’s and the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system was in place connecting the vast country. The family car was how you saw America, it was the “vacation transportation.” Women began to enter the workforce and so a second family car was needed. The price of gas was under .50 per gallon. American car barons were riding a very tall wave. All these factors that led to meteoric growth also conspired against them as they pushed the supply chain thinking to the max. This has made it very difficult to rethink or re-imagine a complicated business.

America definitely made cars safer and more comfortable, but it’s hard to see how they thought beyond the next model. It’s as if some guy said, “Let’s try this.” And everyone did it at the same time. There was a brief attempt by Preston Tucker of Ypsilanti, Michigan in the late 1940′s to create “The Car of Tomorrow.” It was successfully stopped on trumped up Securities and Exchange Commission charges.

The Japanese were successful in creating electronics. Sony with the walkman and perched to take over the premium television market from Philco and Zenith. The next frontier would be automobiles.

That brings us to lack of consumer understanding. Remember my trunk story? When Japanese automakers found a part or design that worked well, they kept it. As a result the quality of their products improved over the years. They mastered manufacturing excellence and incorporated cumulative learning into the process. This allowed them to focus more on the consumer driving their cars. Honda and Toyota pulled off an amazing marketing feat. They used their management and production methods to raise quality, and their vision and research to gain an amazingly strong foothold in the U.S. They gave boomers the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla as they entered their 20′s. Reliable, efficient, affordable, low maintenance and long lasting cars. Once the boomers became established in careers and began to accumulate disposable income, they gave us Lexus, Acura and Infiniti, just as we were looking for more luxury and prestige. Brilliant.

Meanwhile American car companies knew they were in trouble and trying to manage brand strategy and find the quality recipe. The boomer’s parents (at least the dads) pretty much stuck to a few brands, but everyone of them ended up in the repair shop with all those annoying problems. Oh by the way, they cost more and didn’t last as long. American car companies were on an internal corporate hamster wheel and it was out of synch with consumer need states. When you give consumers similar choice they will freeze because they can’t see differentiation between them. Offer them distinct choices and you will reshape how they think and widen their consideration set. It didn’t hurt a bit to see all those Japanese cars on the road. It took a while for Toyota, Honda and Nissan to be taken seriously, but once U.S. consumers saw that this different was better, it was all over.

The “Buy American” anthem was hatched to try and hold off the outsiders. How dare you buy a car made outside the good ole U S of A? So the Japanese opened state of the art factories in the states. Buying American is great and people would love to, but it would have been much better if it was “Buy American because it’s better,” and actually true.

Now the oldie, but goodie, the ivory tower syndrome. American car execs drove their own car brands and models to work each day and never had any problems with them. “What are all these people complaining about? These cars are fantastic.” Well first of all they always drive new cars. American cars will get you down the road pretty pain free for the first year (12 month or 12,000 mile are the mystical numbers). Second, when they parked in the headquarters garage a team of mechanics would swarm their vehicles and make sure all was in perfect working order. Hmmm, maybe that had something to do with why the cars were in tip top shape. The execs should have given themselves 3-5 year old models to drive and forced to maintain them the way everyone else had to, by making an appointment with a dealer and finding an alternate means of getting to work.

Consumer Reports Auto RankingsDespite the positive changes by American carmakers over the last several years, a 2013 Consumer Reports survey shows that there is a ways to go. Ford in particular has struggled to satisfy their customers and the culprit seems to be the “synch” technology which has been a cornerstone of recent advertising. Microsoft was hired to do the programming and the interface has baffled a lot of consumers. Ford is searching for a new software platform. GM, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Dodge all faired poorly in the recent rankings. Lexus, Acura and Audi held the top spots among the established manufacturers. The recent troubles with GM’s ignition problems in the Colbalt and other air bag issues will be a challenge for their new CEO Mary T. Barra. Personally I was thrilled that Ms. Barra is the first woman to be elevated to CEO status of a major car maker. Perhaps the most storied one at that. I wish her nothing but good fortune.

I don’t believe that any carmaker is purposefully putting safety aside. The larger problems my lie in the communication and culture of GM to quickly identify and begin to correct problems, even if they seem inconclusive or could pose a risk to profit. For the record, Tesla scored a 99 on this Consumer Reports ranking.

Making a Change

I had my 1993 Toyota Camry for seven years, drove it 118,000 miles and never once opened the hood myself to check the oil or troubleshoot a problem. It never saw the inside of the shop for anything except normal maintenance. It never, ever failed to start, even in the harsh Chicago winters. This experience showed me that car ownership can be better.

The 1970’s oil embargo and eventual energy crisis forced firms to downsize cars and improve mileage. But America quickly forgot about that; longing for bigger and faster. So on came the SUV, the rebirth of the V8 engine and the era of monster cars and trucks. Remember the Hummer? When looking at profit margins on those vehicles vs. other models, it made great business sense to U.S. carmakers to continue to build and promote them. Wall Street liked it too. The quality and styling of American made cars has come up nicely as of late. The dealer experience has also improved as a formal customer satisfaction scorecard has come into play.

I traded my Camry for a new 2003 Acura TL. I would have been happy to trade for another Toyota, but their designs at that time were so boring and not at all fun to drive. The experience I had with my Acura was similar to the Camry. Reliable at a relatively high level. I did have to replace the transmission, but Acura subsidized that repair at an acceptable level. Bottom line, it never failed me.

The success of outsider car manufacturers sharpened the short sightedness of U.S. carmakers. I still think they were in denial and felt no real harm could come to them. The price of oil continued to rise which began to spur more conversation about alternative fuel cars. American car companies have tinkered with alternative fuel cars. The Chevy Volt became the first serious contender to the Toyota Prius. Sill these are hybrid cars that have gasoline engines and need to be maintained with oil changes, tune-ups and other items. the full gain of electric power is not realized.

The Electric Vehicle

Gm-impact

General Motors EV1

From 1996 to 1999 General Motors built 1,117 of an all electric car called the EV1. You couldn’t buy one, you had to lease it. For the 800 or so who did they became instant lovers of the car. Alas, that love did not last as GM put an end to production and repossessed them, eventually crushing them for recycle scrap. Many felt it was borderline conspiracy to keep oil and the current system in place. GM always said it was an experiment. The EV1 was a concept car and no promise was ever made to mass produce it. They built it because of toughening emission laws, especially in California.

The Toyota Prius, a hybrid, has sold over 3 million units and the Nissan Leaf is the bestselling highway capable vehicle of all electric cars to date with over 100,000 of them on the road as of January 2014. There are no less than 18 EV models available globally with more on the drawing board.

The Invention of Tesla Motors

IMG_1589

The Model S

Along came Tesla Motors in the early 2000’s with a mission to advance the adoption of all electric vehicles. It was named for Nikola Tesla, a mad professor of electricity who was Thomas Edison’s contemporary and very much underrated. They built the Roadster, an expensive two seat sports car as their first production model. They needed to start somewhere and so this was their choice. I personally know three people who own them, one for over eight years, and they absolutely love it. But this was not the car for me. I love sports cars, but I wanted something more in the luxury family, larger, but just as fast.

The Model S was announced and I was all over it. After watching the company and car development closely I was beginning to feel this might be the one for me. I drove my neighbor’s last spring and that was it. I configured it online and 32 days later I was driving one home from the Chicago service center. A grey 60kw Model S with tech package and panoramic roof. I have been all smiles ever since.

Imagine a car where you have no engine, no oil, no radiator or starter. No fan blade or belt. No tailpipe, catalytic converter, muffler and therefore no exhaust. No gas tank or fuel line. No drive train, transmission, spark plugs or any scheduled maintenance. All those burdens that come with gas car ownership are absent from the Model S. All that space and expense can be given back to the engineers to start from the ground up. It’s a marvel. The Model S is German elegant, Japanese sleek and American powerful.

The car was designed and is manufactured in Fremont, California. All American. It is clearly the dawning of a new era of car making in the U.S. There was no way GM or Ford or Chrysler could have made this car. That’s like saying Sears could have been Amazon. Not possible to disrupt that much from inside a long standing company with so much owed to the past.

It is an expensive car and not in most people’s price range, but sticker price is no longer how we should measure the cost of a car. When assessing the price of a car it’s important to remember all those things you have to do along the way. Take at look at my post on the total cost of ownership between an Acura TL and a Model S. You will be surprised.

Personal Transportation is the Future

In many ways early adopters of EV’s are funding the research and development needed to take the required steps to cracking the code on new car technology. As I look back on my father’s car ownership record, he owned 41 cars. I prefer to support further EV development. If it comes from GM or Ford or Chrysler then great. But Tesla is pioneering the new way forward. It’s no longer an automobile. It’s now Personal Transportation. Brilliant software integrated into superior hardware, both working together to make the experience the highest level it can be.

It’s the best car I’ve ever driven.

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age – Book Review

j9941A search on Amazon of “Nikola Tesla in books” will repaint your browser with 1,872 choices. A Viemo search on Nikola Tesla will yield 552 videos across 56 pages. That’s too much content for me to absorb with my busy schedule so I did what I always do when faced with so many choices. I chose carefully.

My choice was Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age by W. Bernard Carlson. I selected this book because the author is a professor of science, technology and society and has a long history of being published and well  in the technology field. It was a bonus that his three areas of interest, science, technology and society are closely connected to my interests of society, media and technology, which I write about on my blog Expedient MEANS.

Mr. Carlson is an academic with a strong research ethic and that seemed most appropriate to unpack some of the mysteries of Tesla. I wanted to read through the eyes of a historian who understands technology. I got that in this book.

The book is big at 500 pages including a thorough index. A good index is always a sign of a serious writer. If there is no index in a work of non-fiction we can with great confidence,  proclaim the author is lazy.

I’ve come to realize through the reading of this book and the sampling many others, that Tesla had a magician’s flair trapped inside a brilliant, visionary mind of a meta-physical scientist. I’ll stop short of sorcerer, but part of me thinks he would have liked being placed in that category.

Tesla worked very hard his entire life, tirelessly pursuing his dream to bring wireless power to the world. He was his biggest fan, always looking for just a one more round of funding that would finally close the very narrow gap between his desire and reality. It’s been said that he was ahead of his time. Perhaps he even felt that way.

The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of the planter – for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.

Tesla worked very hard his entire life, tirelessly pursuing his dream to bring wireless power to the world. He was his biggest fan, always looking for just a one more round of funding that would finally close the very narrow gap between his desire and reality.

He had a rare condition known as Synesthesia. Synesthesia is a perceptual condition of mixed sensations: a stimulus in one sensory modality (hearing) involuntarily elicits a sensation/experience in another sense (vision). Likewise, perception of a shape (number or letter) may cause an unusual perception in the same sense (color). This allowed him to completely design all the details of an invention in his mind and actually run the test or experiment. Since he was completely clear in his mind it often did not fully document his designs and so the Tesla archive is not as it might otherwise be.

It was an amazing life for sure, but not one any of us would likely want to lead. He made perhaps the biggest contributions to the world we share today with our indispensable soul mate, electricity. As I read through the book I jotted down a list of Tesla’s major accomplishments.

  • Mastering Alternating Current (AC). Tesla’s inventions drew interest from the likes of George Westinghouse and J.P. Morgan toward him for investment purposes. Edison was not a fan of AC after seeing men electrocuted by its power. Today’s world is electrified by alternating current.
  • Tesla’s input into the Niagara Falls power project led to that team adopting AC as their power choice to send large amounts of power over long distances.
  • Invented the photographic process for producing X-rays (X for unknown) weeks ahead of Wilhelm Roentgen who is officially credited with the invention. Tesla discovered X-ray photography, but failed to realize it at the time.
  • Tesla was the first investigator of electromagnetic waves which was then furthered by Marconi and resulted in the invention of the Radio. Tesla devised circuits using capacitors and coils that improved Marconi’s invention.
  • Other inventions: Induction motor, rotary transformers, high frequency alternators, the Tesla coil, the Tesla oscillator.

The writing of this book is thorough, but dense. The material is very well organized and written in a consistent style throughout, which for a book of this length and a life this diverse is quite an accomplishment. It’s not an breezy read. One must be determined to learn about Tesla to make it through to the end.

Tesla in France

Tesla lecturing at the French Physical Society and International Society of Electricians (Paris, March 1892)

Mr. Carlson takes us back to Tesla’s earliest years. He recounts a difficult childhood that included the tragic loss of a brother and a challenging sickness. Later Tesla began to blossom while attending Joanneum Polytechnic School in Graz, and his first introduction to electricity and motors. One of his professors said of Tesla.

Tesla was peculiar; it was said of him that he wore the same coat for twenty years. But what he lacked in personal magnetism he made up in the perfection of his exposition. I never saw him miss a word or gesture, and his demonstrations and experiments came off with clocklike precision.

From there Tesla never stopped studying and experimenting. It was the age of the dawning of the magician and he fit right in. He would organize elaborate stage productions to showcase his latest inventions, captivating the crowd with his prestidigitation skills and the magic of electricity. He was viewed as a showman. People didn’t fear him but they did consider him a genius which carries with it a certain amount of eccentricity.

Tesla Receiver

Receiver used by Tesla to detect electromagnetic waves (1890)

To the end, Tesla always believed that wireless power was possible. His work at a Colorado Springs laboratory brought him as close as he would ever be to achieving his dream. But he was not a particularly good businessman and despite his abilities for showmanship, it did not translate well into a cogent story or proposal. His genius just wasn’t taken serious.

He was never rich, but his inventions over the years meant he had ongoing but modest royalties that kept him going through the last decade of his life. Sadly he died nearly penniless in room 3327 of The New Yorker Hotel at the age of 86 in 1943. He never married and there is almost no record of his being involved with a woman at any point in his life.

It’s fitting that Tesla Motors, maker of the pre-eminent electric sedan is named for Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, is following in the footsteps of Tesla, but doing so with business smarts and Silicon Valley speed. If you want to know more about Nikola Tesla and have some time. I would recommend Mr. Carlson’s book.

The Journey to Model S

I took delivery of my Model S on June 14, 2013 at the Chicago Grand Avenue service center. There has been so much written and said on both sides of the fence about the Model S. Much of the discussion surrounds the stock and it’s meteoric rise since the company went public. The company is under a microscope everyday and each move or stumble is deconstructed and debated. Here’s my Model S. Why is it called a Model S? It’s a nod to Henry Ford’s Model T, but ahead of that invention. S is for spaceship, or my favorite, S is for Steve. Officially, the S is for Sedan. The Model X is crossover.

Model S 2

My last car was a 2003 Acura TL. It was a terrific automobile and I loved driving it. Very reliable, but as with all internal combustion engine cars it required a lot of care and feeding. Weekly stops at the gas station accompanied by an outlay of $60. Oil changes, belts, hoses, catalytic converters, brake linings, transmission and on and on.

I grew up in a family of car guys. One uncle was a racer of sprint cars in the midwest who retired to a career of selling cars. Two others were mechanics, one professional the other amateur. My father did almost everthing on his car and taught me. He owned 37 cars and trucks over his lifetime. So you see gasoline, oil and grease run deep.

I’m the kind of guy that keeps his cars quite a while. I owned a 1993 Toyota Camray for seven years and the Acura for ten. I know what it means to stay in a car and I knew I was going to be driving my next car for ten or more years. I wanted a big upgrade. Early on in my search I considered Mercedes Benz, Jaguar and Porsche. Loved all of them, but they are very expensive once you add on all the options.

The more I read about Tesla the more I became interested. My neighbor received his in March of 2013 and he let me drive it. That was all it took. Well, not exactly. I had to convince my analytical wife. So I dove into the analysis.

Comparing Total Cost of Ownership: Model S vs. an Acura TL

I ran the numbers. I went to the Acura web site and built a 2013 TL with the options I would have included had I purchased that car. I am using the actual price of my 2013 Model S. I feel it’s fair to use the 2013 TL price and not my 2003 TL’s price because I’m buying in 2013. I drove my 2003 Acura TL for ten years and so all of the maintenance, insurance, license renewals and insurance are actuals  Keep in mind I am a stickler for details and kept track of every visit to the dealer as well as kept all itemized receipts. These numbers are dead on. I had to estimate the gas costs so it’s not perfect, but I believe I’m close. Here are the high level results of the analysis.

Ownership Compairson Chart

If you stay in the Tesla for ten years the numbers show that the Model S is less than 1% more costly to own than an Acura TL. That sounds pretty hard to believe, but I have double and even tripled checked the numbers and run my methodology past a couple of PhD’s. They did not find any significant flaws.

Some might argue that I should throw out the personal time investment because it’s not a hard cost. I argue it is the hardest cost because it’s your life, not money. This calculation includes time you will spend waiting at the gas station to fuel your car, time you waste sitting in a dealership for oil changes, regular and unexpected maintenance. I used $50 per hour for one’s time, which is very low in my book. Time is one of our most important assets. We have a fixed amount of it. Once it’s gone you can never recapture it. My father used to say, “Kill time and you murder success.” Why not spend that extra week (yes, 7 days) with your family or vacationing, or working on a project you’re passionate about? Maybe even volunteering.

Here are a couple more things to consider. My 2003 Acura TL cost me $29,480, the 2013 TL is $43,310. Not the base price, but including my personal preferred options. So the Acura has gone up in price 47% in ten years. The Model S will likely become less expensive over time as battery technology improves. It is unlikely gas prices will go lower  but highly likely they will rise.

If we think about a potential “Moore’s Law of Batteries,” they will improve in range and performance and become cheaper to make. The 60kW battery I have costs roughly $10,000. It’s not officially published by Tesla, but insiders say this is a good number. After ten years of driving the TL, I will likely trade it in. If I were to buy another gas car I’d likely pay $65,000 for a comparable automobile. In eight years, when my Model S battery is no longer under warranty, I might visit a service center and have it replaced with a new battery pack. If the cost of Tesla batteries went down in cost 10% per year, that means I could replace my current battery size with a new one for $4,305. And if the range went up 10% each year I spend that money for a 125kW battery pack that could exceed 400 miles in range. I’d have new car, from an energy perspective.

But why would I trade in the TL and not the Model S? One big advantage the Model S has over other cars is the software nature of the design. Tesla has promised at least four software enhancements per year. These upgrades are done over the internet, no need to visit a service center. They add new features and capabilities, improve battery life and make existing features better. All at no cost to me. The reason I may not trade in my Model S is because it becomes a new car 40 times over the ten years. I took delivery of the car in June and I’ve had three upgrades so far.

The next obvious elephant in the room is range. Range anxiety is apparantly running rampant across the country, perhaps the world. The pharmcutical companies have a big business opportunity here. I frequently get this question these days, “What happens when the battery runs down?” I reply with, “The same thing that happens when you run out of gas. My guess is you don’t often run out of gas.”

My commute is very short. Let’s call it a 10 mile round trip. My 60kW battery has a range of 205 miles. That makes me the poster boy for an electric car. However, I know many other Tesla owners that commute 75 miles each day and have been doing it for a year in their Model S. They seem to be just as mentally stable as your typical gas car owner.

It takes my home electrical grid 20 minutes and will use 3.3 kW to recharge that 10 miles. I pay .04999¢ per killowatt hour. So it costs me .16¢ per night to recharge the battery. If I were to make that same commute over ten years, accounting for weekends and days off, it add up to a grand total of $387 for the entire decade of commuting!

Mission Statement

Tesla has a mission. Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO re-stated it in a recent email.

“Our goal when we created Tesla a decade ago was the same as it is today: to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

Of course other car companies have a vision or mission statements as well.

  • General Motors: To design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.
  • Ford: People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership.
  • Chrysler: Build cars and trucks people will want to buy, enjoy driving and will want to buy again.To create the type of exciting, efficient, reliable, safe vehicles you expect and deserve.

Ford, GM and Chrysler all sound the same. Tesla is different. It’s a Silicon Valley software firm, which means it moves fast and focuses on innovation.

I will decline to comment on climate change. That debate plays out on many other, much larger stages. What I do believe is that the supply of fossil fuels is not unlimited. Internal combustion engings create pollution. Neither of those points are inaccurate. There’s something very satisfying about driving a vehicle that does not burn fossil fuel and has exactly zero emissions.