LONDON— Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. may lose a spacecraft launch order from a major customer, Inmarsat PLC, even as the European satellite operator voiced confidence in the rocket company’s ability to return to flight this year.
SpaceX, as the rocket company is named, lost one of its Falcon 9 rockets in an explosion during a routine refueling exercise in September at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It destroyed an Israeli satellite Facebook Inc. planned to use to provide internet access to people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Investigators believe a refueling procedure led to the failure. Company officials hope to resume flights before year-end. Pentagon and industry officials said launch resumption before mid-January is doubtful.
Inmarsat Chief Executive Rupert Pearce said Thursday the launch of its fourth Global Xpress satellite due this year on a SpaceX rocket would be delayed until next year and that the company may shift a spacecraft due for launch next year to another rocket.
Read more "Elon Musk’s SpaceX May Lose Inmarsat Launch Order"
As you know, elections breed a fair amount of cognitive dissonance.
Which brings us, naturally, to the other vote taking place this month: the decision on Tesla Motors Inc.’s acquisition of SolarCity Corp., scheduled for Nov. 17.
The latest ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ episode came on Friday morning. International Shareholder Services Inc. issued a report urging investors to vote for the deal and containing this gem of a line:
Tesla has — within the confines of its suboptimal governance structure — taken the requisite steps to reassure its shareholders…
Taking steps within confines is, of course, a ticklish task. Even Elon Musk seemed surprised at the outcome. Later that day, though, rival proxy-advisory firm Glass, Lewis & Co. took a somewhat different view:
Stripped from the pretense of creating a fully-integrated renewables retailer serving a loosely framed end-market, we believe non-affiliated Tesla investors should be concerned the proposed tie-up of Tesla and SolarCity mostly amounts to thinly veiled bailout plan (sic).
I have tended to hew more to that view (see here and here). The idea that SolarCity is a vital, healthy, must-have target is belied by the fact that it agreed to sell itself for a low-ball, all-stock offer that, as of early Monday afternoon, barely provides a premium to the undisturbed price:
Read more "Overcoming SolarCity’s Language Barrier"
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Tesla’s claim that its Autopilot driver-assistance software is safer than a human driver.
After a fatal Autopilot crash last May, the company said the death was the first in 130 million miles of Autopilot driving—and noted that, “among all vehicles, in the U.S., there is a fatality every 94 million miles.”
The clear implication: Autopiloted Teslas are safer than human-piloted cars, and lives would be saved if every car had Autopilot.
But Tesla’s statistics are questionable at best. The small sample size—one crash—makes any calculation of Autopilot fatality rate almost meaningless.
Furthermore, Tesla compared its Autopilot crash rate to the overall U.S. traffic fatality rate—which includes bicyclists, pedestrians, buses, and 18-wheelers. This is not just apples-to-oranges. This is apples-to-aardvarks.
One statistician called Tesla’s comparison “ludicrous on the face of it.”
Read more "Tesla’s own numbers show Autopilot has higher crash rate than human drivers"
As Tesla prepares to acquire SolarCity and create an integrated auto-energy-power storage company, SolarCity’s legacy business model is undergoing a change.
SolarCity reported third-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and the company noted a shift from its traditional solar-panel leasing operations to a newer loan program that brings in more cash, Bloomberg reported.
Here’s Bloomberg’s Christopher Martin:
SolarCity is facing shifting consumer sentiment over solar power. Homeowners increasingly prefer to purchase the rooftop systems rather than the decades-long leases that make up most of the company’s business. Rive said in an Oct. 9 interview that 30 percent of September sales came from cash installs, or loans, instead of leases.
Cash and equivalents rose 78 percent to $259.3 million from the end of the second quarter, and Rive said he expects improved cash generation in the current quarter and next year.
This is important for a couple of reasons. First, Tesla and SolarCity, as a combined company, will be rolling out a new solar-roof product that’s designed to be a fully integrated roof, not a group of solar panels attached to an existing roof. That’s something that Tesla will want homeowners to buy, through financing, when it comes time to install a new roof.
Second, leased solar panels might make it easy for customers to get into solar energy, but when it comes time to sell the house, the lease could be an issue. SolarCity can arrange for it to be transferred, but what if the new homeowner doesn’t want to deal with the cost?
Read more "Tesla and SolarCity are dealing with a critical business problem"
When Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) announced in June it would buy SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY), I got really excited. For months, I’d been studying SolarCity’s financials and I had been stunned by the many misrepresentations of its value in the company’s publications.
Preparing the merger, I thought, would make a lot of 3rd parties take a closer look, so we would finally get a true picture of what the highest paid Bay Area executive under 40 had been achieving so far.
Unfortunately, the 3rd parties brought to the table by Tesla and SolarCity did not offer a lot of joy. They stuck to the numbers given to them by the people who paid them, so the story of deception just continued.
In fact, smooth sailing made executives of Tesla even more courageous, because on October 25, they showed the following graph in a presentation given to Institutional Shareholder Services Inc.
Read more "SolarCity’s $8 Billion Turns Out To Be Just $1.1 Billion"
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) in an unusual presentation Friday evening, put together a press event to discuss a new product that the Company will enable with SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY).
By the end of the presentation, details on cost, performance, or any other specifications were nowhere to be found - other than that the solar shingles look beautiful. Per the company, the product will not be available till next summer. With almost a year to go for purported availability and no specs to offer, why do the product unveil now?
Make no mistake. Solar Roof was a dog and pony show to sell Tesla’s merger with SolarCity to fans and investors.
In spite of the lack of details, what was disclosed was sufficient to conclude that this product is going nowhere.
Firstly, we need to point out that solar shingles is not a new concept. A Google image search will show many different solar shingles including some aesthetically pleasing options. However, none of these have been successful and many companies pitching these products have gone bankrupt.
While there are many reasons for the lack of success, the most important reasons are that the cost of these products was high and the performance was low. These products did not make any economic sense in spite of their supposed aesthetic advantages. We discuss later in this article why the solar roof solution has no practical merit.
Coming back to Tesla, just about the only thing that is going for the Solar Roof concept, and the only thing that Mr. Musk emphasized, is the look of the products (4 different varieties - see image below).
Read more "Solar Roof Is Dead On Arrival - Yet Another Reason Why Tesla’s Merger With SolarCity Makes No Sense"