When we get the eventual Elon Musk biopic that he self-directs and acts in, he will likely have a section that tries to cement the Tesla as one of the highlights of his career. Despite being a billionaire, he seems to be thrifty when it comes to actually paying for the works — I wouldn’t be surprised if he just splices some other creatives’ work into the narrative and claims it as his own; he’s far more Edison than his Tesla-loving image suggests after all. Thankfully, there are two great moments in film history that accurately summarize his car techne: the moment in Fight Club where The Narrator rationalizes recall coordination and the trial of the insurance collector from Saw 6. For shiggles, I’d recommend reading this snippet from Reuters in voice of either Tobin Bell or Edward Norton:
[T]ens of thousands of Tesla owners who have experienced premature failures of suspension or steering parts, according to a Reuters review of thousands of Tesla documents. The chronic failures, many in relatively new vehicles, date back at least seven years and stretch across Tesla’s model lineup and across the globe, from China to the United States to Europe, according to the records and interviews with more than 20 customers and nine former Tesla managers or service technicians.
Individual suspension or steering issues with Teslas have been discussed online and in news accounts for years. But the documents, which have not been previously reported, offer the most comprehensive view to date into the scope of the problems and how Tesla handled what its engineers have internally called part “flaws” and “failures.” The records and interviews reveal for the first time that the automaker has long known far more about the frequency and extent of the defects than it has disclosed to consumers and safety regulators.
While Tesla is far from Ford Pinto levels of malfunction, Teslas gone awry are already a bit of a meme:
Humor aside, the internal documents are saying things that should give some serious pause if you care about car safety or reasonable insurance premiums:
The documents, dated between 2016 and 2022, include repair reports from Tesla service centers globally; analyses and data reviews by engineers on parts with high failure rates; and memos sent to technicians globally, instructing them to tell consumers that broken parts on their cars were not faulty.
And before we get the Musk sycophants that think Elon could do no wrong, it’s not even like all the parts that the technicians know are bad are expensive or anything:
The records reveal persistent problems with low-tech suspension connections, such as upper and lower control arms, and fore and aft links. These parts are relatively inexpensive for Tesla and largely invisible to most consumers. But they play a critical role in safely connecting a car’s axle and wheels to its body and steering apparatus.
There’s something pseudo-lobbyist about the fact that the richest talking heads lamenting the “woke mind virus” and “victim culture” are also spearheading so many poorly thought out ventures, cultivating harassing work environments and actively putting people in danger by overhyping the safety of his tech. At least he’ consistent — Elon’s response to the serial fault in his cars is to state they are the best as axiom and victim blame the people who were dealt bad parts. He’s doing the same for his rockets and his attempt at realizing Borg:
A Reuters investigation in November documented at least 600 injuries at rocket-builder SpaceX, where employees described a culture of rushing dangerous projects with little regard for workers’ safety worries. In July, the news agency revealed how Tesla had created a secret team to suppress thousands of customer complaints about poor driving range. The report, which found that Tesla rigged an algorithm to inflate its cars’ in-dash range estimates, sparked a federal investigation. Late last year, Reuters exposed how hurried experiments at Musk’s brain-chip startup, Neuralink, resulted in the unnecessary suffering and deaths of laboratory animals, despite objections from workers seeking to protect them.
Whether it’s people dying over cheap car parts, tanking our public forum to own the libs, or destroying nature preserves for space exploration, we are all subject to whatever calculus Musk deems will benefit humanity or his bottom line. Sure there will be lawsuits — enough to base a syllabus around — but our legal apparatus can only do so much to prevent a billionaire forcing his “good will” down our gullets. God help us all.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at email@example.com and by tweet at @WritesForRent.