For Edward Niedermeyer, it's plain as day: The emperor—that would be Elon Musk—has no clothes. It's an opinion Niedermeyer has held for years, and he hasn't been quiet about it (see his 2019 publication of the book Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors). In an opinion piece for Slate, he writes that it's possible that others are finally "ready to learn what I have discovered in my time not taking Musk at his word." For him, it started with a 2015 visit to a battery-swap station Tesla was trumpeting about in Harris Ranch, California, thoughtfully situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Tesla's line was that the station could get Tesla drivers ready to go again in a powered-up car quicker than it would take a driver to refuel a typical vehicle. That's not what he found once there.
Tesla was actually "running diesel generators to power additional Superchargers (the kind that take 30 to 60 minutes to recharge a battery) to handle the holiday rush, their exhaust mingling with the unmistakable smell of bulls---. That one decision to go and find the truth underlying Elon Musk’s promises, rather than just take his word for it, changed my life." He assumed the "duplicity" wasn't a one-off, and said that his digging has confirmed it wasn't (he runs down some of the "cockroaches" he says he found). The crux of it for Niedermeyer is this: Musk's celebrity is remarkable, but his "trajectory is unsustainable. It was only a matter of time before impunity and arrogance caused his mask to slip, and then the world would be ready to learn that Tesla’s runaway valuation was underwritten by memes, corner-cutting, information control, and outright deception." (Read the full column.)