TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Don't you think Tesla Motors should have a Formula-E team?!

Discussion in 'Tesla Motors' started by tkizzy, Jul 1, 2015.

  1. tkizzy

    tkizzy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Napa, CA
    #1 tkizzy, Jul 1, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    I don't know if any of you have seen this, but it's pretty sweet. All aspects of the race are incredibly tech-ed out. There's a ton of footage on the site. The season appears to have just ended on the 27th - 2 of the events took place in the United States.



    Just like all the big manufacturers participate in Le Mans, it would make total sense for makers of electric sports sedans to throw their efforts into the arena. And I can't imagine they weren't approached at some point, Tesla being pretty much the most talked about manufacturer of electric cars. It is of course possible that Tesla determined they don't have the finances for the sport (I don't know the degree of the expense, but as of now teams are using 2 cars per race, and they are super-charged via glycerine powered generators) but this would be a great opportunity to win people's hearts and establish their credibility amongst the unenlightened. (especially since they don't advertise!) Not to mention it would be an extension of their research and development efforts, whose discoveries could trickle down into their production cars.

    The only car makers I recognize from the list of teams are Renault and Audi. The rest seem to be private and not-strictly-automotive (Virgin racing, Andretti) race teams. But that could just mean a chance to gain experience from the ground floor!

    What do you people think? Should Tesla fund a racing team in Formula-E?
     
  2. mattmass

    mattmass Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2014
    Messages:
    119
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Hrm tough one. I agree completely that it would be great for marketing, and could be a driver of new tech. My biggest reservation would be the distraction to engineering. Maybe once there's been a successful release of the Model 3.
     
  3. widodh

    widodh Model S R231 EU

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2011
    Messages:
    4,822
    Location:
    Middelburg, The Netherlands
    Exactly. They are still underpowered when it comes to R&D from what I can tell.

    Yes, a Formula-E team would be nice, but later, not today.
     
  4. JER

    JER Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    285
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    The first season had everyone using the same cars. There was some good racing - close and often exciting - but no opportunity for a constructor to demonstrate technical superiority.

    That's changing next season: Every powertrain component between the battery and the wheels will be open to innovation.

    I'm still not expecting Tesla there, though. As mattmass says, it would take resources from their primary mission of getting a mass-market car on the road. It's also questionable how relevant a racing program would be to the road car technology, and vice versa; they are quite different use cases to optimise for.
     
  5. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,321
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    Tesla should not put any resources into racing of any kind. The company needs to focus on making the best street EVs possible. Racing is a distraction from the company's mission.
     
  6. Lokolo

    Lokolo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    123
    Would building a formula E car really take away that many resources that Tesla needs? What is it that Tesla doesn't have enough of? I've fallen behind with TM recently but it's always been production constrained, hence the gigafactory (as well as for cheaper batteries). A formula E car wouldn't stop this. The Model X has been designed, and built. Model E is years away from production. So why not?

    As JER says, this first year they had to all use the same cars. Next year is a chance for a car manufacturer to shine and say "we can make an awesome electric powertrain". They said at the final that a number of car manufacturers have already been sponsored by teams to help build a formula E car. Can you imagine the publicity, "Tesla car wins Formula E championship"? It would be great.

    However what made me quite upset was I went to the final in London and was gobsmacked to find that Tesla weren't there! Nissan, BMW and even a courier with their electric delivery trucks were there showing off vehicles. What a massively missed opportunity. I went with a friend who said "why are there car manufacturers here? there isn't even a fully electric card available on the market.", obviously I set him straight.

    The other thing was that the safety car was a lovely i8, which should have been a Model S.
     
  7. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,321
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    #7 ecarfan, Jul 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2015
    Designing and building a dedicated race car like a Formula E vehicle would cost tens of millions of dollars, require a dedicated engineering and manufacturing team, and would be very expensive to support. Racing takes big bucks. It would be foolish for Tesla to embark on such a project, and at the 2014 shareholders meeting in response to a question from a shareholder Elon said Tesla would not be involved in racing, he stated that car companies go racing for marketing purposes and to sell cars, and Tesla is not demand constrained it is production constrained. He was quite straightforward with his opinion that building a Tesla race car would be a waste of resources. Please watch the video of the meeting to hear his exact words.
     
  8. JER

    JER Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2015
    Messages:
    285
    Location:
    Bristol, UK
    Tesla was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (which was on the same weekend.) Probably the better choice, if you have to focus on one.
     
  9. roblab

    roblab Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2008
    Messages:
    2,022
    Location:
    Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
    Yes. Expensive advertising for a company that doesn't advertise.
     
  10. tkizzy

    tkizzy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Napa, CA
    Tesla at this point are worth billions of dollars. They have production infrastructure (yes, still growing). All they would need is a team of about 15 people and a few million dollars. There's also sure to be overlap between R&D for the Formula-E cars and the stuff they're already working on, so they could have synergy utilizing existing resources. The Formula E cars as they stand today cost about $350,000 dollars each, and at least 2 cars are required. I think that's well within Tesla's means, and it would pay for itself by spurring further interest and growth. Especially outside of the United States as this is a world series, and Tesla has recently reported less-than-anticipated sales abroad such as in China. (There was a race in china btw) The effect on public perception of EV's due to this series is priceless, and I think Tesla should be on board one way or another.

    The only thing is that there's a planned system of component sharing in Formula E where less well-funded race teams can buy components from the big boys, and I don't know how well that sits with Tesla. While in theory this spurs innovation in electric drives, it could also technically be a competitive disadvantage. I guess Tesla were in talks with Formula E, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if this is the main reason Tesla backed out.

    "Elon said Tesla would not be involved in racing" - I don't recall ever reading this anywhere, would love a link to check out!


    "The other thing was that the safety car was a lovely i8, which should have been a Model S." - YES.

    Also, Elon has said that they do plan to build a supercar at some point, but are prioritizing M S, X, and 3. Unlike producing a full on consumer car, Tesla could pretty much just jump in and have something competitive fairly quickly for the next Formula-E season especially since all the cars are starting with a base, and next year they will focus on differentiating the motors and inverters.


    Also stumbled on a similar thread at tesla motors forum: Formula E Racing | Forums | Tesla Motors
     
  11. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,321
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    As I said, Elon made that statement at the 2014 shareholders meeting. You can find a video of it on YouTube Tesla Motors, Inc. 2014 annual shareholder meeting - YouTube

    Go to the 1 hour 14 minute point to hear where he said that Tesla would not be getting involved in racing.
     
  12. djplong

    djplong Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    248
    Location:
    NH
    Tesla doesn't need to spend over $4M (that's a sponsorship for a Formula E team) when they have a backlog of orders. They don't need to spend tens of millions of dollars distracting their engineers building million dollar race cars when they're trying to build a $35,000 BEV for the rest of us.
     
  13. Lokolo

    Lokolo Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    123
    So Tesla is production constrained, not cash constrained. Would them having a side project for Formula E have an impact on production? I can't think it would.

    Dragon Racing are still looking for a manufacturer (according to Wikipedia)
     
  14. tkizzy

    tkizzy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Napa, CA
    #14 tkizzy, Jul 2, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
    Ah. So he did. I'd actually watched the meeting but didn't remember hearing anything about racing. To those who want to see Tesla embrace motorsports it's of some consolation that he qualified with "...In the short to medium term." It does make sense - Tesla's success was less than assured in 2014. Also, the girl asks about a traditional motorsport, Formula-E had never happened yet. In either case, they seem to be dabbling with motorsports in spirit: P85D. They installed Superchargers for Refuel 2015 at Laguna Seca this past weekend. (Mazda sponsored raceway, Mazda has a much smaller market cap than Tesla btw).

    - - - Updated - - -

    Tesla are all about sharing patents etc, but don't you think they would want to build for their own "Team Tesla Motors?"
     
  15. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2013
    Messages:
    10,321
    Location:
    San Mateo, CA
    A more accurate statement is "Tesla is production constrained, not demand constrained". Which means that If Tesla could build more cars they could sell more cars. They do not need to spend more money on marketing to sell more cars. Manufacturers spend money on racing programs for marketing purposes. All other car manufacturers need to invest large amounts of money in marketing to maintain their production levels. Tesla invests almost no money (by comparison) in marketing yet is unable to keep up with demand.

    It costs a lot of money to expand production so Tesla can sell more cars, and it costs a lot of money to design and develop new models. That is where Tesla is investing, as they should. A racing program would be a waste of money because it would not lead to more sales.
     
  16. tkizzy

    tkizzy Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2015
    Messages:
    129
    Location:
    Napa, CA
    No, they don't need to, I suppose.

    The same logic could have been used for the exotic sports car they built that funded the luxury sports sedan they're building that will have funded the mid-priced car they're going to build. The reason the mid-priced car is even on anybody's radar at all is because the exotic sports car and luxury sports sedan captured the current cultural Psyche.

    Formula-E also grabs people's souls, and I think events like it are important for the EV cause to make it's final push towards mainstream relevancy. Somehow I get the feeling they could totally swing it, and the reason they haven't yet has to do with implementation details more than any particular stance on their involvement in racing.
     
  17. RobStark

    RobStark Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,907
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I think they should enter Formula E around 2020-2022 when GF and Fremont are in full swing and cash is flowing.

    I think there is a lot to learn from racing that will be applicable to street cars. As of now Tesla does not know what the don't know regarding racing.

    For ICEv the tech has diverged with CAFE, CO2 emission regulations and such.

    By 2022 Tesla should have well over 30k employees. 3 dozen engineers and $30M/year is not a lot to spend for the potential gains in tech and marketing. You are not taking material resources at this point from Tesla.

    This effort is not only for Tesla but for the entire EV industry. Tesla's ultimate goal is not to sell 4M Teslas per year or make a lot of money. But to transition the world to sustainable transport. E Motorsports aids in that cause and gives good bang for the buck. You can't convince 100M consumers per year to switch from ICEv to BEV on Elon being Elon in Youtube vids, message boards and word of mouth alone.
     
  18. mackgoo

    mackgoo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2014
    Messages:
    134
    Location:
    SoCal
    Yes. Tesla could become the Ferrari of the EV world. You can't put a price on that.
     
  19. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    Messages:
    3,399
    Location:
    San Diego
    When Tesla starts design work on the follow on to the Roadster, it might make sense. But Tesla will have to be a much bigger company to juggle all this. Right now, it is all they can do to bring out one new car every few years.
     
  20. Cosmacelf

    Cosmacelf Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2013
    Messages:
    3,399
    Location:
    San Diego
    They already are.
     

Share This Page