Elon Musk’s Biggest Fails of 2018

Elon Musk Boring Company

As Elon Musk and his companies — Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company — enter a sure to be turbulent 2019, Breitbart News has chosen to reflect on just a few of Elon Musk’s biggest fails throughout 2018.

Elon Musk’s companies have faced a dramatic year in 2018, including 100+ executives jumping ship from Tesla, the Boring Company’s failed product demonstration, and SpaceX’s failure to launch a rocket without government assistance. 2019 will doubtless be another tough year ahead for Musk’s firms. Here are just some of Musk’s biggest mistakes throughout the year:

1: SpaceX Fails to Test Rocket Due to Government Shutdown

Breitbart reported in January that SpaceX was unable to perform the static fire test of their Falcon Heavy rocket due to lack of ground support from the U.S. Air Force’s s 45th Space Wing and NASA following a government shutdown. The static fire test of the Falcon Heavy rocket would have consisted of firing all 27 of the rocket’s engines as it is held down on a launch pad. This test is necessary to ensure all engines are operational before an actual rocket takeoff test which was set to happen at the end of January.

A SpaceX spokesperson told Engadget in a statement at the time:

We remain hopeful that the Congress will quickly resolve their differences and put our partners in the Air Force and NASA back to doing their important work as soon as possible. This shutdown impacts SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy demonstration, which is critical for future NSS missions. It also impacts critical missions for our customers, including important international allies scheduled to launch shortly from Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base, as well as upcoming missions this spring to resupply the International Space Station.

Despite being a private company, SpaceX requires government assistance for nearly all of their rocket test launches and static fires. Three of Elon Musk’s companies, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and SpaceX, have also received approximately $4.9 billion in funding from the U.S. government. The Los Angeles Times reported on SpaceX’s funding saying “On a smaller scale, SpaceX, Musk’s rocket company, cut a deal for about $20 million in economic development subsidies from Texas to construct a launch facility there. (Separate from incentives, SpaceX has won more than $5.5 billion in government contracts from NASA and the U.S. Air Force.)”

2: Elon Musk Smokes Weed on The Joe Rogan Experience

During the course of his interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in September, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made a number of outlandish claims while smoking weed and drinking whiskey with the host. Throughout the podcast, Musk dodged uncomfortable questions about the operating status of Tesla’s solar roofing panels, claimed that humans shouldn’t kick robots because they have a “long memory” and stated that The Boring Company started out as a joke and that there is a good chance the company’s LA tunnel project will fail.

“I have this, it’s sort of a hobby company, called the Boring Company, which started out as a joke. And we decided to make it real, and dig a tunnel under LA. And then other people asked us to build tunnels so we said yes in a few cases,” said Musk discussing the Boring Company. Mentioning the tunnel that the Boring Company is supposed to be building underneath Los Angeles to the Dodgers Stadium, Musk stated: “We’ve dug about a mile. It’s quite long. It takes a long time to walk it,” he continued “I’m not saying it’s going to be successful. It’s not, like, asserting it’s going to be successful. But so far I’ve lived in LA for 16 years and the traffic has always been terrible. And so I don’t see any other ideas for improving the traffic.”

Discussing the number of lawsuits and investigations brought against Tesla for car malfunctions, Musk claimed that most of the lawsuits were frivolous and that people would have died if they had similar accidents in other makes of car: “The S, X, and 3 have the lowest probability of injury of any cars ever tested by the U.S. government,” said Musk. “Yeah. But it’s pretty funny, pretty crazy — people still sue us. Like, they’ll have, like, some accident at 60 miles an hour where they’ve, like, twisted an ankle. And they — like, they would be dead in another car, but they still sue us.”

Musk also warned that people shouldn’t kick or abuse robots — because they have a long memory. Rogan joked during the podcast about PETA putting out a statement that “robotic dogs” should not be abused, referencing the machines created by groups such as Boston Dynamics. One of the tests that engineers put these robots under is a kick test to ensure that the robots do not fall and are well made. “It’s probably not wise,” said Musk discussing kicking a robot. “Their memory is very good.”

Discussing the future of Tesla vehicles, Musk stated that the next version of the Tesla Roadster will have rockets — he then clarifies that these will be compressed air jets. Then he states that flying cars would never work because they’re too loud — after claiming that he will be putting very loud compressed air jets in his future car. The interview did not go over well with Tesla investors.

3: Elon Musk Calls British Cave Rescue Hero a Pedophile

In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused Vernon Unsworth, one of the hero cave rescuers who saved the lives of a Thai soccer team, of being a “pedo guy.” Musk initially apologized for his accusations but resurfaced them recently when he questioned Unsworth’s innocence, asking why the cave rescuer wasn’t suing Musk if he had in fact been defamed — Unsworth has taken legal action, Musk was just not aware of this at the time.

In a rant to a BuzzFeed news journalist that Musk considered off the record, Musk once again claimed that Unsworth was a pedophile and that he had married a 12-year-old bride in Thailand. Musk stated in an email: “I suggest that you call people you know in Thailand, find out what’s actually going on and stop defending child rapists, you f****** a**hole.” Musk continued to state: “He’s an old, single white guy from England who’s been traveling to or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years, mostly Pattaya Beach, until moving to Chiang Rai for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time.”

Musk ended his email stating: “I Fu**ing hope he sues me.” Now, Unsworth’s 40-years-old girlfriend of seven years, Woranan Ratrawiphukkun, has defended Unsworth from Musk’s accusations in an interview with the Daily Mail. “The news about him being married to a 12-year-old child is laughable. As of now, everything will proceed according to the law,” stated Ratrawiphukkun.

Ratrawiphukkun added: “Vern is a kind person. He rarely has an argument with anyone, and everybody loves Vern… We’ve spent our life together for seven years — he’s a good man and such a gentleman. He thinks of others before himself. I cannot comment further. I don’t have anything to say to him [Musk].” She continued, “I know what kind of person Vern is. If he wasn’t a good man, we wouldn’t still be together after all these seven years.”

When asked if Unsworth would be taking further legal action against Musk, Ratrawiphukkun stated: “I have no details. I’ll have to wait until Vern gets here. If your husband was accused of this, would you sue?” Musk has since sought to dismiss the case claiming that his allegations were merely his opinion.

4: The Boring Company’s Product Demo Fails to Meet Expectations

In December, Musk promised to display a self-driving car traveling down a futuristic tunnel system to demonstrate the Boring Company’s abilities — instead, the company showed a regular car driving down a bumpy, patchwork tunnel.

As usual, it appeared that Tesla CEO and Boring Company founder Elon Musk promised more than he could deliver. The Boring Company held a product demonstration event this week, which Musk previously promised would feature “modded but fully road legal autonomous transport cars” and “ground to tunnel car elevators.” What the company delivered was far from the streamlined experience that Musk previously promised, the LA Times reported.

Instead, in a parking lot next to SpaceX, The Boring Compan revealed a 1.14-mile route that runs approximately 20 to 40 feet beneath the streets of Hawthorne, California. So far, the tunnel had been used as a research project to develop new techniques and technology, but Musk stated that he hoped it would “ultimately be part of a much larger network in greater Los Angeles.”

The “fully road legal autonomous transport car” that Musk promised was not present at the demonstration. Instead, a Tesla Model X with a top speed of 53 mph driven by a human crawled along the tunnel. The car traversed the tunnel within two minutes, driving along two uneven concrete shelves which were far from the streamlined, futuristic experience that Musk promised.

One Twitter user pointed out some of the glaring issues with the tunnel and the test vehicle in a tweet which can be seen below:

Musk attempted to explain the failed PR stunt saying: “We kind of ran out of time. The bumpiness will not be there down the road. It will be as smooth as glass. This is just a prototype. That’s why it’s just a little rough around the edges.” However, the construction of this tunnel wasn’t particularly fast, taking 18 months and costing $10 million to build. The date of the demonstration was also set by the company itself, there was no reason to “run out of time,” when there was no deadline to display the tunnel.

5: Musk and Tesla Receive $40 Million in Fines — Because of a Tweet

In September, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, reached a settlement with the SEC over charges of fraud relating to a tweet in which Musk claimed to have the “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Musk was offered a no-guilt settlement deal by the SEC, but pulled out of the agreement at the last minute. CNBC reported that under the terms of the deal Musk would be forced to pay a fine and he would be barred from acting as the chairman of Tesla for two years — although he would still maintain his role as CEO and he would not have to admit guilt in the matter.

Musk initially did not accept the deal because in doing so he would “not be truthful to himself,” and would not be able to “live with the idea that he agreed to accept a settlement and any blemish associated with that.” It was later reported that the Tesla CEO has accepted the SEC deal. The Verge reports that under the agreements of the deal, Musk will be barred from acting as the chairman of Tesla but will continue to act as CEO. Tesla will also appoint two independent chairmen to the board.

Both Musk and Tesla were forced to pay a $20 million fine each to “be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved process.” Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division, said in a statement at the time of the deal that: “The total package of remedies and relief announced today are specifically designed to address the misconduct at issue by strengthening Tesla’s corporate governance and oversight in order to protect investors.”

Since then, Tesla has added Musk’s confidant Robyn Denholm as the chairman of the board and appointed Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Walgreens executive Kathleen Thompson-Wilson to its board of directors, neither of which have previous experience in the automotive industry.

Overall, 2018 has been a rough year for Musk’s many companies mainly due to technical errors, slow production rates and Musk’s own actions which have cost him and his companies vasts sums of money. This reporter noted in a recent article that one of the biggest hurdles that Musk’s company will face going forward is his inability to let go of personal vendetta. Hopefully in 2019 Musk will learn to let go of the past and stop overpromising and underdelivering.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com


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