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Virgin Could Take On Tesla With Electric Car 105

According to a story at Ars Technica, Virgin empire founder Richard Branson says 'teams of people' are working on electric cars. Says the article: Virgin is working on electric cars and could one day take on Tesla, according to company founder Richard Branson. Speaking at a racing event in Miami, Branson said Virgin had "teams of people" working on electric cars but refused to be drawn on specific details. The company's Virgin Racing team already competes in the all-electric Formula E championship, a high-speed, battery-powered spinoff of Formula 1. Branson has now hinted that Virgin's involvement could lead to the company selling its own electric cars. ... Branson's business has continued to expand in recent years. As well as trains and planes, Virgin now has a fledgling space operation and is soon to launch its own cruise ships.
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Virgin Could Take On Tesla With Electric Car

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  • Stay away from the tapioca!

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:07AM (#49308659)

    The title for the real Tony Stark begins.

    • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:42AM (#49308801)

      Bitch, please, that's not even a contest.
      Branson started off with a magazine & record stores before launching an airline; Elon sold a space shooter video game as a 12yr old and was studying physics & material science at Stanford, is invested in SOLAR energy, considers running SpaceX to be his primary job & still found time to put his thoughts on the Hyperloop on paper while showcasing the launch of the most kickass electric sedan ever made.

      http://www.theatlantic.com/tec... [theatlantic.com]

      It may be that there's someone more deserving of the title than Musk but it ain't Branson, not now, not ever.

      • Branson is exceptional at PR, but thats about it - he rarely actually achieves something revolutionary from scratch as musk is doing, he will rather buy up existing outfits that is on the verge of success or has just achieved success. Formula E is easy to compete in because the cars are stock and supplied by a single third party, while their space effort only came about after Scaled Composites achieved their fame. Virgin Atlantic et al are nothing to call home about.

        Branson is all about making money, he rar

        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          I realize I forgot to mention Virgin Galactic which Branson founded 2 yrs after Musk started SpaceX.
          They've been promising a maiden flight since 2009 but it seems that was more marketing than reality and they're not quite ready.
          With the midair explosion of SpaceShipTwo last October, it remains to be seen what they do next.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        So what, are you accusing Elon of suffering from attention deficit disorder, pretty cheeky that ;).

        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          Heh, no. It would be ADD if his companies never delivered on anything and, of course, there are a lot of smart, hardworking people behind him - one can hardly disregard the talent of JB Straubel.

          But he is the front man and the one'll get the arrows in the back if his ventures fail.
          In just the past 5 years, his resume is damned impressive with what has been accomplished at SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, Silevo so for now, he's earned the badge of a highly successful multi-tasker, the only blemish is that his com

    • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @02:15PM (#49309343)

      And Branson will lose any such competition.

      The vast majority of Branson's business ventures have been failures. The places where he does well are in monopolies, such as international airline travel and running monopolized train services in the UK (Branson tried to run a regional airline in the UK called Little Red, but failed). Even then these are on shaky ground; Virgin Atlantic has only just begun to return to profitability, probably something to do with Delta taking a 49% stake in the airline over from Singapore Airlines, and he nearly lost his rail franchise, until his lobbying efforts revealed that the UK government had made mistakes in the allocation of the contracts.

      The only reason why Virgin Galactic even exists is because the state of New Mexico ponied up massive subsidies (thanks to Bill Richardson) to build the thing there. Branson never risks his own capital on long shots. He's only involved because this is a way to create publicity for his brand. Likewise his Formula 1 efforts, and likewise this nonsensical idea that he has people building an electric car.

      Branson is all showmanship and no substance. He wants people to think he is some sort of environmental activist as he believes it will benefit him and his company. You'll see - we'll never see or hear of any Virgin-manufactured electric car ever again.

      Hats off to the guy - he's made himself a lot of money (nobody knows how much, though) - but excepting his long-past days in the recording business, he guy has never delivered a manufactured product in his life, and never will.

      • Virgin is doing okay in Australia as the #2 airline. They also do mobile phone services running on the Optus network.

        • I went for a quick look into this. Wikipedia reveals that Virgin Australia is owned by Virgin Australia Holdings, which in turn is owned by a consortium consisting of a number of other airlines (Ethiad, Singapore, Air New Zealand), plus Branson's Virgin Group with a 10% holding.

          Virgin Mobile in Australia, much like the Virgin broadband/phone/TV operation in the UK, is no longer anything to do with Branson - he sold it to Optus in 2006 and that company is currently wholly owned by Singtel. In the UK, Virgin

  • by neapolitan ( 1100101 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:10AM (#49308675)

    It said "Virgin could take on Tesla", so I thought it was about a fellow Slashdotter forming his own company.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I was having a thought alone the same lines, what are they going to call it? The Virgin Car? The Virgin S? The Auto Virgin? There's exactly zero ways "I drive a Virgin" sounds good, unless you're talking about tonight's date. And the odds of them releasing it under any other name is also near zero. So oddly enough, what I'm most curious to see is the name.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well at least it wasn't a virgin bent over the hood of a car.

      Does Slashdot have a disproportionate share of virgins, and are Slashdotters well proportioned?

      Is there a shortage of basements? Do I smell poll questions?

      I think stories are often overly dramatic, take on this, killer, that. What matters is having what the market needs, or can be made to think it needs.

      Not knowing anything about this company, I'm still skeptical. There's more to an electric car than the car. The battery plays a key role in se

  • Keep it cool, keep it cool...
  • by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @11:31AM (#49308757)

    you may find Virgin competing with the Tesla in the car business as we do in the space business.

    Sure, except that Virgin isn't competing in the space business. Virgin's business is suborbital fun rides.

    • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 )

      Virgin's business is suborbital fun rides.

      So I guess that means Virgin's electric cars will be fun to drive, but break down a lot?

      • Lets leave medium sized chunks of metal in the road and find out.

        Fireworks in the springtime are nice.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        Well, if we want to extend the analogy of SpaceShipTwo vs. Falcon 9 + Dragon (with delta-V as range), compared to a baseline Model S, then Virgin's car would go about 30 miles with a top speed of 20mph and would cost $750.

        In short, Virgin's electric "car" would actually be an electric bike.

        • For that price, range and speed, convert that into a closed tricycle with enough space for four groceries bags and he'd sell millions of them.

        • Well, if we want to extend the analogy of SpaceShipTwo vs. Falcon 9 + Dragon (with delta-V as range), compared to a baseline Model S, then Virgin's car would go about 30 miles with a top speed of 20mph and would cost $750.

          In short, Virgin's electric "car" would actually be an electric bike.

          Electric vehicles with more or less those specs already exist: they're called golf carts. They're actually reasonably popular as a method of transport in a few communities.

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  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @12:09PM (#49308897) Homepage Journal

    This is the marriage of two mature technologies -- electric motors and automobile chassis -- plus modern batteries. So all you need to create an electric car is the will and enough money to hire the engineers.

    The trick will be to create a car that is practical and successful in the marketplace.

    It's easy for an engineer to create an amazing car on paper. What's hard is for a company to actually produce an amazing car (electric or otherwise) that people actually want to buy and to make money at it. That requires so many things to go right at so many levels, and that's what's impressive about the success of Tesla.

    I look forward to seeing what Virgin comes up with. I wish them success. But I don't particularly expect it.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      This is the marriage of two mature technologies -- electric motors and automobile chassis -- plus modern batteries.

      And Virgin has no experience in any of those things. It's very rare for a business to succeed in a new market that has so little overlap with their current.

  • why is it that the collective think that Tesla are the only ones making electric cars like some lone pioneer, every car company has at least one model, and some sell fairly well being just on either side of Tesla's extremely thin market of 20 something's

  • by barlevg ( 2111272 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @01:37PM (#49309219)
    I've been incredibly impressed with what Tesla has done in getting an American public who flat out did not want to give up its gas guzzlers interested in the concept of an electric car. I'll be even more impressed when the Tesla competitors come around, and the question shifts from "Do I want an electric car?" to "Which electric car should I buy?"
  • Seriously, he came to O and begged for America to focus on the IFR, back when dems controlled it.
    Yet, if he would spend just $.5B, he could have transatomic up and running before 2020.

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