Tesla, “the company that Twitter built,” had a banner day in the headlines yesterday. A Model X rented for a wedding was crashed into by a stolen car. Meanwhile, SpaceX launched its heaviest satellite yet. Adam Jonas, one of the biggest cheerleaders for Tesla stock on Wall Street lowered his sights a bit. And Elon Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, says he will leave the company next month to pursue “other opportunities.”
The Model X Wedding Crasher
In California, a young man who identifies himself as Mr. Tran left his rehearsal dinner the night before his wedding driving a rented Tesla Model X. As he was making a left turn at an intersection, a stolen Honda Civic fleeing from the police crashed into him. The Civic was estimated to be travelling 65 mph at the time of the collision.
Tran, posting as QwiksilverA4 in an online forum, said, “At this point, it looked like the driver had no intention of slowing down, and I immediately thought that I was either going to get badly hurt or potentially die.” Instead, all 12 air bags in the Model X went off and the front of the Tesla, which Elon Musk has called “a giant impact-absorbing crumple zone,” performed its mission of protecting those inside the car perfectly.
After the crash, Tran kicked open the front door and exited the vehicle with only minor injuries. “The silver car was a mess, but the Model X only suffered a broken axel and bent wheel,” he wrote online. “I can’t thank Elon Musk, Tesla, and the team enough for what they do and want them to know that their car saved my life. Thank you for your time and I hope this message gets passed through to everyone, especially Elon.” Tran is an automation controls consultant for Tesla who works regularly with the company’s engineers. “Little did I know that one of these vehicles would end up saving my life in a potentially deadly auto accident,” he wrote.
Falcon 9 Launches Heaviest Payload
SpaceX on Monday, May 15, launched an Inmarsat-5 F4 communications satellite weighing 13,400 lbs into geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the earth. The weight of the satellite combined with how high above the earth it had to be lifted meant there was not enough fuel left on board after the launch to fly the first stage of the Falcon 9 back to earth. This marked the fourth successful Falcon 9 launch for SpaceX in the past 6 months.
Adam Jonas Warns On Tesla
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has been a consistent champion of Tesla stock on Wall Street for years. He has been advising his clients to buy shares in the company even as the price climbed to record levels recently. On Monday, he altered his position and changed his advice on Tesla from “overweight” to “equal weight.” Jonas sees the greatest challenge to Tesla coming from the tech sector rather than traditional automakers.
“The bull case on Tesla is that it can become the next Amazon or Apple. We see such firms as competitors ultimately. We question whether the risks of going head-to-head vs. the tech giants is sufficiently discounted in the price,” Jonas told clients. “We expect much larger and more well-capitalized competitors to unveil strategies that directly address sustainable transport and mobility.”
Lyndon Rive Seeks Greener Pastures
Shortly after Tesla started taking orders for its Solar Roof tiles, Lyndon Rive, cousin of Elon Musk and former CEO of SolarCity, has announced that he is taking his act on the road in search of other opportunities. “My skill set and what I love doing is starting and running companies,” Rive said. “I can hand off the baton to somebody else and give myself the opportunity to do something else that could also have another impact.”
Cynics may see this as Rive taking the money he made after SolarCity was purchased by Tesla last year and running for the hills. Or it could be a sign that there have been clashes behind the scenes between him and Elon. Or it could be that he just wants to spend time with his family. Or it could be just what he wrote. Time will tell.
Photo Credit: Mrs. Tran