Blog: Back from Frankfurt
Dave Leggett | 18 September 2009
Well, that's Frankfurt done and dusted for another two years. It was all very familiar and yet somehow different. Despite the best efforts of the exhibitors there was no escaping the cloud of recession that hung over proceedings. Conversations about the effects of the recession and the casualties who have fallen by the wayside were never far away.
I attended a SupplierBusiness conference yesterday and I guess you could say it wasn't all gloom and doom. Wilbur Ross certainly smells an opportunity in picking up supplier assets cheaply at this point in the cycle. One man's busted company is another man's opportunity to make money. He was pretty upbeat and I guess the economy needs people who are good at keeping assets productive and providing at least some employment.
There were a couple of guys from Tesla Motors on the agenda. Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's VP of Business Development, gave a pretty good presentation. But then his CV did say that prior to joining Tesla he served in Washington as 'Chief of Staff for Political Military Affairs at the US State Department, where he was involved in policy and operational support to the US military in various theatres of operation'. Crikey. I expect he knows how to handle Elon Musk when he's had a skinny latte too many.
His colleague, Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla's chief designer, also gave a presentation about the Model S. He was a bit flowery in his description of the car, but maybe that's to be expected. And to be fair, it does look pretty good in the photos.
He really won me over though when he was bowled a question that is kind of obvious, but a potentially tricky one that strikes to the heart of what Tesla is about. The question was along the lines of: how can you have an electric car with environmentally friendly core attributes that is also a very big car boasting sports performance – is that not a little contradictory? In his answer he described the car as agile and efficient, strong but eschewing grunt strength and finished with 'it's the difference between a body-builder and say, someone like Lance Armstrong'. Nice comparison. I expect the Tesla people have a few of those up their sleeves, but I liked that one.
And the Model S will come with batteries that give claimed 256km, 368km, 480km range options. That's very impressive sounding on a car of that size. I wonder how big and heavy these batteries will be? Battery swap in five minutes? I guess it won't be a DIY job.
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