Elon Musk’s Bait-and-Switch Transportation Company Valued at $5.6 Billion

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Elon Musk in Chicago announcing a new 16-passenger transportation system in Chicago on June 14, 2018. It never happened.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Elon Musk in Chicago announcing a new 16-passenger transportation system in Chicago on June 14, 2018. It never happened.
Photo: Joshua Lott (Getty Images)

Elon Musk’s “mass” transportation venture, known as The Boring Company, has been valued at $5.675 billion, according to a press release from the company. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.” And who says the Silicon Valley hype machine is dead?

The valuation comes after The Boring Company raised $675 million in a Series C funding round with the help of Vy Capital and Sequoia Capital, despite the gap between what The Boring Company has promised and what it ultimately winds up building.

The company was founded by Elon Musk with the dream of digging tunnels that could help move large amounts of people quickly to their destination underground. This was going to be accomplished through the Hyperloop high-speed transportation system and the slower, but still revolutionary, Loop system. Musk got the digging part down, but, as for all the other specifics, The Boring Company has become little more than a punchline.

When Musk first announced his plans for the Loop system in 2018it was going to carry 16-passenger electric vehicles at 155 miles per hour. The vehicles were going to be autonomous, naturally, and utilize a brand new “skating” technology that Musk never fully explained.

The revolutionary vehicles were supposed to cut down commutes substantially. In Chicago, as just one example, Musk promised promised people would be able to get to from downtown to O’Hare Airport in about 12 minutes, compared with existing trains that took 40-45 minutes.

But the project with Chicago fell apart and the only real project The Boring Company has built so far has been the Las Vegas Loop, which isn’t anything like what Musk promised. The tunnels only have regular Tesla automobiles and they’re even driven by human drivers. The Loop’s top speed is just 35 miles per houraccording to the Las Vegas Review Journal. And who knows where that whole “skating” idea went. The cars just drive on the regular road like anything else.

It looks like The Boring Company even purged the old animated video of the Loop 16-passenger vehicle from Vimeo. Thankfully, we still have a GIF of that future—a better future—that was promised, which you can see below.

gif: Vimeo / The Boring Company

Compare that with the reality currently in Vegas, a regular Tesla being driven by a human in a tunnel. Driven slowly and shakyat that.

A rather bumpy ride in Elon Musk’s “loop” transportation system under Las Vegas, Nevada as seen on July 2, 2021.
gif: YouTube/Vegas Best Ideas

The Boring Company lays out its three goals as solving traffic, beautifying cities, and enabling rapid-point-to-point transportation—very worthy goals indeed. The only problem is that it doesn’t seem like The Boring Company is building something that could actually help humanity in any meaningful way beyond what’s already available.

“To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D. Tunnels minimize usage of valuable surface land and do not conflict with existing transportation systems. A large network of tunnels can alleviate congestion in any city,” the company claims in its press release announcing the $5.6 billion valuation.

Except the Boring Company hasn’t actually solved traffic. Or anything, really. As long as the Loop system uses Teslas driven by humans driving slowly in a tunnel, it will never be the thing that Musk promised. But that hasn’t stopped other cities from looking into getting Musk to build them an underground tunnel.

Good luck, Musk. You really know how to sell an idea. But the resulting product leaves much to be desired.

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