Musk’s feints and fibs are cataloged in Edward Niedermeyer’s exceptional Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors. ... an essential case study of how a brash visionary can suck every last speck of oxygen and rationalism from an industry, so much so that it reads like a necessary companion to Kevin Young’s excellent Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts and Fake News. ... I can confirm that if you peruse the commentary around a Niedermeyer communique, you will find a highly motivated fan base that seems more interested in protecting Tesla’s stock valuation than reading past the headline on stories about the many half-truths Tesla has told about its environmental impact, its full self-driving upgrade and other matters.
In his new book Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors, journalist Edward Niedermeyer hews close to the critics’ interpretation, while also giving Musk his due ... Niedermeyer, an aggressive reporter at the Drive, possesses a deep understanding of how the auto industry works (and often doesn’t). He’s in a good position to assess the foibles of Musk as Tesla struggles to prove that it can earn sustainable profits after 16 years of surviving on cash raised from lenders and investors, with no return on invested capital to show for it ... Whether Tesla succeeds or fails, whether Musk ends up regarded as a hero or a clown, Ludicrous does a fine job of documenting the company’s story and setting the stage for what comes next.
Regardless of the ultimate fate of Tesla, the company has had an impact and Ed Niedermeyer has spent the past several years researching and writing what is arguably the best take on the company to date ... Niedermeyer tells us how the original team came to be and what went wrong, giving credit where it is due. But Ludicrous is also a cautionary tale for anyone starting a business. At its heart, the book features a warning about change for the sake of change ... Ludicrous is a fascinating read for anyone interested in how an automaker can grow from an idea and all of the ways it might potentially fail along the way.
Ludicrous will have tremendous appeal to car buffs but requires the reader’s faith that its assertions are reliable. Its sources have refused to be quoted out of fear of Mr. Musk ... Perhaps this information is solid. But people who aren’t identified can’t complain about being misquoted. It’s also ironic that, after not disclosing his sources, Mr. Niedermeyer goes on to slam Mr. Musk for not being open with the public ... Entertaining anecdotes abound in the book ... The book hits its stride when the author details Mr. Musk’s attempts to revolutionize the way cars are built ... The portrait of Elon Musk that emerges from this book is one of a social-media obsessive who is constantly overpromising, playing the role of the self-sufficient business person while relying on government favors ... But his is an achievement, nonetheless.