General Motors “Pulled The Pin On The Grenade And Threw It” In Attempt To Block Tesla’s Direct Sales – Video

MAY 4 2015 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 64

Pin Pulling Time

Pin Pulling Time

“Delegate Kirill Reznik of Montgomery County Maryland discusses the history of House Bill 235 (sponsored by Reznik) at Tesla Road Trip’s “Reach the Beach” event at Hooper’s Crab House in Ocean City, Maryland on April 18, 2015.”

States the video description.

For some background on what’s going on in the video, check out this story over at GreenCarReports.

What we’ll focus on here is one statement made by Reznik.  He’s discussing Maryland’s push to approve direct sales.  It was all going as planned until General Motors’ representatives showed up and “pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it,” according to Reznik:

“And then GM showed up and as I like to put it, pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it.”

This led to last-minute struggles in getting the bill passed, but it did pass with only 6 minutes to spare before the bill would’ve been tossed out completely.

Reznik is a captivating story teller, so do watch the video in its entirety.

Hat tip to InsideEVs reader Mark C who took the video!

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64 Comments on "General Motors “Pulled The Pin On The Grenade And Threw It” In Attempt To Block Tesla’s Direct Sales – Video"

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It continues to amaze me that people would be surprised at this.

GM can’t alienate their dealers, they need them to sell cars as law requires.

GM doesn’t want another company to be able to circumvent the same laws they must abide by.

Why would GM ever try to support this? Even if they want dealers to go away, it is corporate suicide.

Chris O

It’s one thing not to support, it’s quite another to “pull the pin on the grenade and throw it”.

Once again illustrates that “new GM” really is no different from old GM”.

Well, the grenade comment is hyperbole as far as I’m concerned. Though I didn’t watch the video since this same comment was already part of an InsideEVs story a week or so ago. I’ll watch the video just to be sure.

Okay, watched the majority of this. At this point I think posting the video was just an excuse to drudge up the “Grenade” comment again. The title otherwise has nothing to do with the video.

It’s not like this shows what GM said, it’s just the video of the story that was already written previously. *Rolls eyes*

Chris O

The grenade comment came from Maryland state delegate Kirill Reznik

from GCR:

“the bill’s backers worked from the start with the Maryland dealers association. That group was willing to come to the table early, he said, and sit down to negotiate terms, with the goal of making sure “they weren’t seen as an obstacle” here.

“And then GM showed up,” Reznik noted, “and as I like to put it, pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it.”

Backers of the bill, he said, had to deal with opposition by the corporation’s legislative affairs group up until the last day of the session–despite the cooperation from the Maryland dealers.

Right, so what about this video has anything to do with the title of this article? It just seems like a failed attempt to denigrate GM again over the “pull the pin” comment.

Chris O

“Denigrate”? Seems like an appropriate analogy of GM’s extremely aggressive behaviour against retail models designed to promote and sell plug-ins rather than the gassers that are GM’s core business.

GM isn’t about killing the electric car any more, that would be an unrealistic goal. But like Toyota it will certainly do what it can to drag out the ICE age as long as possible.

When it comes to GM all changes people may perceive are just cosmetic, underneath it’s really still the same old dinosaur.

Chris O, where in the video does it go into any detail about what GM did? Regardless of your opinion of how GM is behaving, my point is that the video is just an excuse to put up that title, and a loose one at that.

I you’re being a bit over the top with GM’s intentions. It’s a business case, not an ICE versus EV case. Why would they want a competitor to not have to deal with the regulation they’ve had to deal with for decades? I agree that getting rid of franchises seems like the way to go, but when you’re reliant on them for your business, you don’t shun them. The dealers are already pretty awful in many circumstances, alienating them more wouldn’t do much good.

In the greater context, it’s a bummer that GM is fighting it. But when looking at the position they are in, it is in no way surprising, and I can’t ascribe any malice or hate towards EV’s from doing so, it’s simply business economics.

David Stone

Tesla abides by the very same (original) law:
It does NOT compete against its frinchised dealers.

GSP

+1

GSP

Speculawyer

I want GM to be able to sell their cars directly to the public. THAT is what GM should be trying to do.

Big Solar

I hope so, they certainly cant do worse than NADA.

Spider-Dan

Does anyone here believe that if Tesla were in a position to kneecap FCVs (through, say, eliminating them from qualifying for a tax credit), they wouldn’t try to do so in an instant?

I expect GM and Ford to try to stop Tesla from opening direct sales stores. And I also expect GM and Ford to try to lobby for increased roadblocks on importing to hurt Toyota, Honda, Nissan, etc.

Similarly, I’m not shocked or outraged that Tesla built a vast network of Superchargers specifically designed not to use any of the other global charging standards. Tesla is doing what they can to get an advantage against their competition, as is everyone else.

MorrisonHiker

Tesla opened their patents to other manufacturers. They can build using Tesla’s patents as long as they share in the cost of expanding the Supercharger network.

Spider-Dan

Why can’t ChargePoint simply add Tesla connectors to their charging stations?

Why can’t Nissan replace their CHAdeMO ports with Tesla connectors and add Tesla connector charging stations to their dealers?

Answer: because Tesla intentionally used a proprietary connector (that still requires a license) to gain a competitive advantage.

ChargePoint is not likely to add Tesla connections soon as majority of their stations only offer 6 kW charging. All Tesla’s sold today come with onboard 20 kW AC chargers. (and each has a included adaptor that plugs into a J1772 connector … for emergency use)

Note: most of ChargePoint branded EVSE are owned by host locations … ChargePoint is mostly and access and payment processing service provider.

Tesla has also made available a CHAdeMO adaptor for only $400; offering the most charging access of any auto maker. In addition all of Tesla’s technology patents are license free to anyone wanting to build a similar system. (cost of design, manufacturing, testing and certification is not included)
This seems to be a bit beyond what any other auto manufacture, or charging network provider is willing to offer.

Zac

Tesla’s charging plug, however, is superior to CHAdeMO and the US and EU CCS. CHAdeMO maxes out at 62.5 kW, CCS can theorteically do somewhere near 100 kW, while Tesla’s chargers today put out 120 kW, and they are talking about upping the power to 130-150 kW in the near future. You can’t put power that quickly through any of the other plugs on the market, so Tesla made their own. Doesn’t mean it’s not also a good tactic to get people to buy Tesla or suffer by not having access to their great network, but they did have some legitimate engineering backing that decision, not just politics.

Spider-Dan

Do you think Nissan, GM, or Mitsubishi couldn’t have designed something better than J1772 or CHAdeMO or CCS? Nissan, in particular, had every reason in the world to make their own individual connector instead of having two incompatible standards that require a huge charging port.

However, Nissan decided to go with the available standards instead, because they valued market standardization over a competitive advantage. The only reason why Tesla made their own connector is because they planned to build out their own charging network, and having a network that only their cars can use is a market advantage.

Tesla actively works to fracture EV charging standardization, and for this, they are cheered. If Tesla really cared about EV proliferation (instead of their own market advantage), they would make their connector and charging protocol free for any manufacturer to implement, and/or let drivers of any EV buy into Supercharger access with a Tesla-sold adapter.

koz

I’m confused. Do the majors try to develop market advantages or not. Pretty sure your first response was they do. Slower standards aren’t as big a deal for smaller batteries but aren’t very practical for highway travel for large battery BEV’s like Model S. Tesla had little choice if they wanted to dramatically expand market appeal. Does’t mean they wouldn’t have chosen the path they have if a viable standard existed but it did not.

Spider-Dan

My point is that all the automakers act in their own best interest, including fragmenting the market when it suits their purposes.

Nissan is best served by wide availability of standardized chargers, so they promote that.

GM is best served by forcing Tesla to play by the same dealership rules that they have to, so they promote that.

Tesla is best served by having a different connector on their proprietary charging network (and offering adapters for Tesla owners to use the standard connectors), so they do that.

This does not make GM evil and Tesla virtuous. All three companies are amoral (not immoral), as every publicly traded corporation responsible to its stockholders should be.

JakeY

“However, Nissan decided to go with the available standards instead, because they valued market standardization over a competitive advantage.”
I think you are re-writing history a bit here. Nissan went with CHAdeMO because they were one of the founding members of the CHAdeMO group. And lest people have the wrong idea, CHAdeMO was a completely closed proprietary standard with patents owned and licensed by TEPCO up until late 2012 (when it became an official Japanese JIS standard). So up until then, it was just as proprietary as Tesla’s standard is today. That’s also part of the reason why SAE rejected adopting CHAdeMO as a US standard in favor of CCS (which was an open standard the whole time).

That decision and the EU considering banning all non-IEC standards in favor of IEC standards like CCS, pushed CHAdeMO to open up their standard. So CHAdeMO rushed to get published as a JIS standard and then onward to as an IEC standard (early 2014). This made it so the final EU rule was much milder: CCS is minimum, but other standards are allowed.

Spider-Dan

Your description of CHAdeMO’s history is misleading; Nissan was one of 3 Japanese automakers (the others being Subaru’s parent company and Mitsubishi) that jointly developed the standard with TEPCO. (Toyota later joined as an executive member.)

In contrast, Tesla’s connector is the product of Tesla alone, only Tesla may use it, and anyone else who wants to use it has to request Tesla’s permission and pay them for the privilege.

I would compare CHAdeMO to USB or HDMI: standards that were developed by a small group of industry manufacturers that charged a (relatively) small fee to license the technology. None of the three are a true open standard (like, say, Ethernet or VGA), but Tesla’s connectors are not remotely close to even that limited definition of an open standard.

JakeY

After CHAdeMO was pressured to open up their standard would match your description of being similar to USB or HDMI (only a small publicly disclosed fee to license and ready access to the standard).

Before that, CHAdeMO had to be licensed closed door on a case by case basis like any proprietary standard and had free reign in what to charge (no requirement of reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing):
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/01/akerwade-20100115.html

So while Tesla is more closed (only one company), CHAdeMO back then was in no way like USB or HDMI.

io

+1

io

100kW-capable CHAdeMO chargers and cars are not only possible, they already exist.
Meet the Kia Soul EV.

John in AA

Yes, I do not believe they would do so. Not because they’re angels, but because FCVs don’t represent any kind of meaningful competition. Tesla has shown they’re pretty good at keeping their eye on the ball and not distracting themselves with trifles.

Spider-Dan

So if GM believes that Tesla selling Rolexes-on-wheels for the ultra-wealthy “doesn’t represent any kind of meaningful competition,” then it’s OK for them to manipulate the political system to try to kneecap Tesla?

It sounds like you’re OK with companies leaning on politicians to rig the game, but only as long as it’s against technology you don’t approve of.

John in AA

In what universe does “I don’t think Tesla would do this” turn into “I’m fine with this behavior [etc]”? I would respond to your comment in more detail, but it’s so completely off the mark I don’t even know where to begin.

Spider-Dan

Sorry, I misread your “Yes, I do not believe” statement.

Lensman

Asking Tesla to make their Superchargers conform to a format for lower-power EV chargers would be like asking the makers of music CDs to make only ones you can play on a phonograph.

It just doesn’t work. Tesla Model S’s can be charged at a much faster rate than any other production EV. Older charging formats are set up to use lower power, and couldn’t handle the power of Supercharger charging.

Tesla offered to share their tech with other EV makers. Instead of asking why Tesla didn’t use the older charging tech, the question you should be asking is: Why haven’t any of the other EV makers adopted Tesla’s Supercharging format? Sooner or later, every production EV will be able to charge at that speed — or very likely even faster.

Spider-Dan

Tesla’s connector uses proprietary communication protocols, which are not free and open. These protocols are covered under software copyright, not patents. You must negotiate a license from Tesla to use them.

In contrast, J1772 and CCS are openly-documented standards. Any company may sell their own home EVSE or their own charging network using those standards.

John in AA

Protocols are not copyrightable. Protocol specifications are, as are protocol implementations, but that’s a completely different story.

Spider-Dan

Communication protocols are most certainly copyrightable… particularly if encrypted. This is the primary mechanism by which content providers like Sony and DirecTV use the DMCA to shut down people who provide mechanisms to bypass the software encryption checks on the hardware they sell you.

The precise term is “anti-circumvention,” and if someone were to try to sell a Tesla-compatible connector by reverse-engineering Tesla’s communication protocols, they would have a DMCA lawsuit on their hands.

John from AA

Interesting, I had not thought about a DMCA connection. Strictly speaking, that doesn’t have to do with protecting the protocol with copyright per se, but with a so-called “digital lock.” You may view that as hair-splitting however, and I won’t insist on the point.

Is Tesla documented to employ a DMCA-style “digital lock” on their protocols?

(The DMCA is a freaking disaster, but that’s another story.)

Spider-Dan

The protocol definitely has a security check built in; if it did not, there would be no way to prevent S60 owners who have not paid for SuperCharger access from driving up to any SuperCharger and plugging in.

John from AA

That doesn’t follow at all. The check could be entirely on the S60 side. In fact, lacking evidence to the contrary that’s what I’d assume to be the case.

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” (Or at least some evidence.)

Spider-Dan

On the subject of extraordinary claims…

You appear to be suggesting that the Tesla connector communication protocol is completely uni-directional, and that the only security built into the SC network is entirely on the end of the device connecting.

If that were true, you would be fatally undermining your own argument: Tesla would be forced to take aggressive legal action anyone who offered a Tesla connector or reverse engineered their protocols, as such a development would result in a scenario where the SuperCharger would provide free power to any device that connected and self-reported that it was authorized for SC access. Such a security model is… unlikely, to say the very least.

The SC network rather obviously has security checks on the charger side, and it’s quite absurd to claim otherwise.

John in AA

So in summary, there is no objective evidence to support your previous claim, only a thought experiment which one may or may not find compelling but which isn’t currently supported by data.

Spider-Dan

So to summarize:

– you agree that the connection is secured
– you hypothesize (i.e. a thought experiment) that the connection COULD be secured entirely on the car end
– when explained the glaring insecurity of such a model, you dismiss that point as a “thought experiment”

Either the connection is secured, or it isn’t. If it is secured, you are engaging in a thought experiment to claim that it’s secured entirely on the car end.

John in AA

Look, this whole tangent branched off of “Tesla’s connector uses proprietary communication protocols, which are not free and open. These protocols are covered under software copyright, not patents. You must negotiate a license from Tesla to use them.”

Given multiple opportunities, you haven’t been able to support the first sentence with data. The second sentence is demonstrably false, for reasons I’ve gone into in detail elsewhere.

I don’t have a proposition I’m trying to prove. You have one that you made and are unable to support. I guess we’re done here.

Spider-Dan

I think you have our roles reversed.

It is you that claims that Tesla’s internally-developed connector and connection protocols are open and free.

Has Tesla specifically stated that the Tesla connector (and the necessary communication protocols to operate it) can be used by other companies without fear of legal action from Tesla? If not, on what basis do you claim that this technology is open?

Spider-Dan

To clarify the previous statement: I don’t think I need to “prove” that Tesla’s internally developed technology is proprietary any more than I would ask you to “prove” that Voltec is proprietary to GM.

If your actual position in this discussion is that either of those things might be open and free, we aren’t even talking about the same intellectual property landscape. Intellectual property does not default to “open.”

Spider-Dan

I would also like to point out that one of Tesla’s stated reasons behind creating their own connector is precisely the ability to use verify access through the connection. CHAdeMO, J1772, and CCS do not have the ability to verify access permissions through the connector; the connectors are basically just for power (and very limited power negotiation communication).

This is why charging networks like ChargePoint control access through separate card readers (or similar mechanisms). Tesla objected to this method of access control.

Rose

S60s cannot abuse the system for the simple reason that every Tesla has it’s serial number crossed checked with the option enablee. No need for any fancy encryption.
KISS is everywhere in the Tesla Philosophy, and you spider, are very ur of touch trying to roll Tesla in the dirt with your ridiculous claims on this page.

Spider-Dan

And how is that serial number verified?

If it’s verified against a secured database of Tesla vehicle data, you’ve just proven my point.

“KISS is everywhere in the Tesla Philosophy”

Hahahahahaaaaahaaaaaaaa!

Early Model S’s, if not more, contained redundant lines for backup (and, I’ll speculate, future-proofing). Just like limited functions of autonomy could be activated with a firmware update… because redundant hardware had already been included in the design (if not every vehicle or trim level). Overhead and redundancy is a staple of Software World, and to a lesser extent Hardware World. Tesla is, clearly, a Hardware vehicle built by Software people.

Who’s looking dirty now?

John in AA
I thought about this some more, and realized that although the DMCA argument superficially appears to make sense, actually it doesn’t. The DMCA doesn’t criminalize all forms of reverse engineering — the anti-circumvention provision attempts to prohibit gaining access to copyrighted material through circumvention of a so-called “digital lock”. In the examples you cited (Sony, DirecTV) the “digital lock” is a cryptographic system intended to prevent the user from getting access to the clear text of a (presumed to be) copyrighted work, such as a movie. However, in the case of Tesla Superchargers, the resource being accessed is electricity. We have not yet reached a level of legal absurdity where a court has ruled that electricity is a copyrightable work. So, in short, the DMCA doesn’t and can’t apply in this case. And it remains true that protocols themselves are not subject to copyright. They are subject to patent protection, but as we’ve discussed in this thread, Tesla is pretty liberal with patents. Protocols can also be “protected” as trade secrets, but there is no legal protection against having them reverse engineered in that case. SAMBA is a well-known example where this happened — the cat’s out of the bag,… Read more »
mr. M

Chademo max 140-170 kW
CCS max 200 kW
Tesla max 170 kW?

I dont see any advantage in speed.

Stating kW without reference to battery Voltage and Charging Current Capacity of an EV is meaningless. There are 350 kW and 600 kW DC charging systems deployed today!

YES, today … but the average 80 EV, or 40 mile PHEV has a max. current limit; physically determined by the capacity of their battery. Bigger capacity batteries can accommodate greater current … thus a transit bus, or other large capacity pack can charge using hundreds of amps.

None of this has any dependence on current connector technology. As future EVs gain the ability to charge at 100+ amps, we’ll likely see new connectors … really no different from computers. (dedicated power ports, USB1, USB2 … mini-USB etc) Think back to phone … each gen uses a smaller, more universal plug.

“Chademo max 140-170 kW
CCS max 200 kW
Tesla max 170 kW?

I dont see any advantage in speed.”

Hahahahaahaaaawhaaa!

Sure, just like speedometers go to 140-160 mph. Doesn’t mean the car will actually do it, except downhill, with a tailwind, and a JATO unit.

PlugShare is also proving you wrong.

Lensman

That’s hardly a comparable case. If anyone could bring a halt to the colossal waste of money and resources being spent on fueling station for hydrogen fueled cars, it would be a public service. The sooner that sidetrack on the road to ending our use of oil to fuel transportation gets closed off, the sooner our society can get on with developing practical alternatives to gas guzzlers.

It’s rather silly to suggest that Tesla would need to use political influence to end a “threat” of competition from “fool cell” cars. That’s not a threat, it’s a joke. And the “hydrogen economy” isn’t competition, it’s just a boondoggle.

Chris O

If GM were serious about plug-ins it would support retail models that are tailor made to promote and sell this particular product.

Instead it not only doesn’t support this, it’s actually more fanatic than its franchise dealers in going to war against it.

Clearly for GM plug-ins are just a sideshow, done mostly for compliance and companies that are serious about them are considered a threat to its core business: ICE until the oil runs out.

Ricardo

Well mate, let’s hope you are wrong. After all, if GM isn’t serious, then, who is? No, your precious Tesla ain’t gonna change the world by itself. I wonder where you guys get these ideas, do you really like those dystopian places where one corporation rules everything and some guy has to blast his way out of hell just so he can use a pair of trousers that aren’t Levi’s?

Chris O

Tesla can’t do it alone but for now most carmakers are in the plug-in game for compliance reasons. Don’t see many signs that GM is motivated beyond that. Volt was a small production run, Volt 2 won’t even be offered outside North America. Bolt is great on paper but again: GM is only planning a 25k/year production run for it. Great for compliance, but no signs of real ambition.

Signs of real ambition are: building large battery factories,investing in high output quick charge infrastructure, investing in retail networks that are designed for promotion and sales of plug-ins.

GM is into none of that or actually up in arms against it.

Lensman

Ricardo said:

“…your precious Tesla ain’t gonna change the world by itself.”

Tesla already has changed the world. If it wasn’t for Tesla, neither the Nissan Leaf nor the GM Volt would have debuted in 2010. Sure, sooner or later the modern EV revolution would have gotten started. It’s economically inevitable. But Tesla is pushing it forward a lot faster than the natural evolution of the tech would be.

First other EV makers played follow-the-leader with Tesla in making production EVs, and now battery makers are playing follow-the-leader in planning to significantly increase battery production.

Tesla is miles ahead of anyone else in this game. And unlike the Tucker Car Corporation (RIP), Tesla has the political savvy to fight the Detroit auto makers when they try to use political influence to end Tesla’s business.

GO TESLA!

David

Exactly. Lots of talk about GM being pro EV, but their actions can easily be interpreted to be very anti-EV in a cynical way.

– only nationally available EV is a hybrid
– their only BEV is California only
– they pushed heavily for the Michigan bill blocking Tesla and publicly endorsed it.
– they push for CCS instead of CHAdeMO even though they don’t nationally sell a car with CCS and they have done nothing to deploy CCS charge stations
– ELR commercial
– EV1

Rose

+++

“States the video description.”

Eric, where does the video description state that? I went to YouTube and didn’t see it. Are we referring to a particular statement he made in the video?

I’m trying to figure out how anything about this video relates to GM being against it beyond the small part in the video where they said GM is against it, which was reported previously.

Lou Grinzo

So, let me get this straight: GM did the grenade-thing, how, exactly? The GCR article talks about legislators obstructing the process in various ways. And how were these legislators “encouraged” to so powerfully support GM’s position on this issue? I’m guessing it has to do with campaign donations and/or threats of withdrawal of said donations.

In other words, GM bought legislators like so many options packages checked off in a showroom. How freaking quaint.

This is just one tiny example of why we really, REALLY need campaign finance reform in this country.

David

“This is just one tiny example of why we really, REALLY need campaign finance reform in this country.”

Definitely agree there. Not sure why “lobbying” isn’t called “bribery”.

Chris O

The grenade comment came from Maryland state delegate Kirill Reznik

from GCR:

“the bill’s backers worked from the start with the Maryland dealers association. That group was willing to come to the table early, he said, and sit down to negotiate terms, with the goal of making sure “they weren’t seen as an obstacle” here.

“And then GM showed up,” Reznik noted, “and as I like to put it, pulled the pin on the grenade and threw it.”

Backers of the bill, he said, had to deal with opposition by the corporation’s legislative affairs group up until the last day of the session–despite the cooperation from the Maryland dealers.

Chris O

(misplaced comment)

Phil Trubey

It would be interesting to know what exactly GM did to try to kill this bill.

vdiv

Maybe this video of the HB-235 from the Feb.19 hearing will give you some idea:

http://pluginsites.org/dealers-support-gm-opposes-bill-to-allow-tesla-sales-in-maryland/