Tesla, Tucker and DeLorean

A year ago, Tesla Motors CEO, Chairman and Product Architect Elon Musk fairly bristled when critics noting production delays and some CEO turnover at his Silicon Valley electric car company compared it to two of the most well-documented failures of U.S. car-making history, Tucker and DeLorean.

Tesla Motors Inc.It’s now safe to say that Tesla has easily passed Tucker, and seems headed on a path to leave comparisons to DeLorean behind, too.

Tucker was the dream of Preston Tucker. But only 51 of his 1948 Tucker Torpedo models were built before the company folded.

DeLorean was the name of another eponymous dreamer, John DeLorean. The ex-Pontiac chief saw about 9,000 of his DMC-12s built in Northern Ireland before production ended in 1982.

Tesla’s production of its Roadster has reached 250 deliveries, and later this week, it’ll unveil its second car, the Model S sedan. The company hopes to produce 20,000 of these vehicles a year once assembly starts in 2011.

It’s worth noting that Tucker, DeLorean and Tesla do share something: screen time.

Both Tucker and DeLorean are probably more famous with movie buffs than car fans. Jeff Bridges starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1988 “Tucker: The Man and His Dream.” It gets 6.8 stars (out of 10) on imdb.com.

And the DeLorean was Doc Brown’s time-traveling machine in the “Back to the Future” triology (8.3, 7.4 and 7.0 on imdb.com) that ran from 1985 to 1990.

And it was his 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (7.7 stars on imdb.com) that led film-maker Chris Paine to Tesla. There’s a glimpse of the first Tesla at the end of his documentary.  He now owns one of the electric rides, and has been seen at various Tesla events with a film crew as he puts together a sequel called “Revenge of the Electric Car.”

You can read Paine’s blog item on his first week driving a Tesla here.

(Photo of the 2009 Tesla Roadster Sport courtesy of Tesla Motors.)


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  • Paul Lees

    Write your congressman! The Detroit Big 3 (Who are fronts for the oil companies), the banks (Who conduit the oil company money) and AIG (who keeps the oil companies protected) were handed “money in a sack” within a few days with no questions asked, no application, no budget, no use-of-funds proposal, and no review process but the alternative energy people, ie: wind, solar and electric cars; must pay massive fees, file thousands of pages of paper and wait years to see if they MIGHT get some money. It seems as if there is an intentional program going on to delay alternative energy. Already, multiple solar companies that were waiting for that money have been forced to go out of business by the delay and most of the electric car companies are going to die soon too.

  • Gene

    Well said, it is amazing that GM pipe dream, chevy volt scheduled for production in 2010 with their super advanced lithium ion battery technology will only have range of 40 miles , while their ev-1 car, made over 10 years ago with infeior lead acid battey technology, that has something like one tenth capacity of lithium ion, was doing easy 80 miles (if you do not beleive me ask Tom Hanks, he still has one of those cars) not to mention a 3.000 lb rav 4 electric thas was doing 120 miles

  • keith fields

    The Delorean still alive a doing very well. You can still get a brand new Car from New factory IN Texas. Just go to http://www.delorean.com to order you one. I have a 1981 Delorean for the past 20 years and is happy to say it is the greatest Dream car you will ever own. Keith