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With regard to Tesla, I think their biggest problem is pricing. I actually saw a Tesla Roadster in the "wild" in my Noe Valley neighborhood a few weeks ago. (I posted pictures of it on my photoblog, here: http://lagtime.posterous.com/tesla-roadsterin-my-...
It was parked outside of a hospital, and there was a couple of Tesla technicians there -- they had a van parked in front of the roadster -- and they were waiting for the new owner of this vehicle (presumably some high-salaried doctor) to come out so the could give "instructions."
While I snapped my shots I asked them, "So how much does this go for?" And they said: $109,000!!! They went on to say the battery system alone cost about $40,000. So, this is not a mass-market vehicle. What working man can affort a $40,000 car... let alone a $109k one?
But the Tesla techs there on the curb told me that they were working on more affordable models, that should hit the dealerships in 2012. I asked what's the starting price. They said: $77,000.
Apparently, sustainable driving is only a rich man's game at the moment
As I argued in my Monday Morning quarterback blog on this topic: http://j.mp/dVqbFA I don't think the brain trust running Groupon cares two squirts about Tibet, or rainforests, or dying whales. In their short history, they've been making a habit of wiping egg off their face, for example, their New Years Day blunder where they took a traditional and important meal in Japan and turned it into a cultural mockery: http://j.mp/hwW2vI. Want to have fun? Google the words "Groupon apologies"...
But who knows, maybe they're mastering the art of "committing huge and tasteless gaffes and then begging for forgiveness" as a brand-building strategy. According to a CNBC report http://j.mp/fBCeD8 the Super Bowl stunts actually led to a net gain in subscriptions.
So maybe they capitalized on the opportunity they were after.