Niagara Gazette

March 6, 2014

GLYNN: Tesla's name rebounds with new electric car

By DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette.com
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It’s rarely if ever mentioned, but a new car rapidly gaining consumer attention is named for a pioneer in the hydroelectric power industry at Niagara Falls.

Nikola Tesla, an engineer and physicist, invented the alternating current in the early 1900s. After decades of living in the shadows of his former boss, Thomas Edison, Tesla has gained recognition with the electric car bearing his name heading to the mass market.

According to a recent report, in 2013 the Tesla Model s outsold its closest luxury rival, Mercedes’ petrol-engined s class by 30 percent in America. Industry analysts say Tesla’s performance to date, however, has not resulted in significant profits. Sales growth was impacted briefly last year by a series of battery fires. Still, Tesla’s shares soared in February to hike the company’s value to more than $30 billion.

Tesla’s basic Model s is listed at $64,000 in the U.S. Actually the car was introduced about a decade ago by Elon Musk, a founder of PayPal. In 2013, the company sold 22,000 cars and by the end of this year, it hopes to be producing 1,000 per week.

For the record, Tesla is hardly forgotten. He’s seated as part of a large monument near the Cave of the Winds on Goat Island. Countless tourists have photographed it, sometimes with the kids crawling up in his lap. Also, last year a new statue of Tesla was unveiled at the inventor’s former Wardenclyffe laboratory on Long Island.

Naming a car for a famous person though may be a risk, based on other failures in the 20th century,

For example, the Edsel, named for Henry Ford’s son, never gained acceptance in the nation’s automotive market. Unveiled in 1958, it halted production in late November 1959 but not before losing $350 million on the investment.

The LaSalle brand name was linked to that of French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de LaSalle. A companion of Father Louis Hennepin, the missionary who penned a famous description of Niagara Falls, LaSalle also built the first ship to sail the upper Great Lakes, launching the vessel in the present-day site of the residential area known as LaSalle. The automobile had a longer life than the Edsel, lasting 13 years till production stopped in 1940.

Some historians find it strange that a car would be named for a guy who walked thousands of miles during his life. In fact, the story goes, that if he ran short of a particular item that he felt was needed, he wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to walk 100 miles or so to get it.

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CITED FOR SERVICE: Several area residents will be honored at the Heart, Love and Soul Recognition Dinner April 2 at the agency’s dining facility in the city’s North End. The event is set for 5:30 p.m.

Among the honorees: Partners in Ministry Award - Bud and Rae Beiter, Mortimer’s; “The Spirit of Heart & Soul Award - Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, retired president of Niagara University; The FrancesFicorilli Volunteer Award - Don Bowman, Ernie Ninham and Jackie Collins; Special Recognition - Sister Marygrace Polino and Sister Mary Kay Stahl.

Sister Beth Brosmer, OSF, executive director of Heart & Soul, said students from the Niagara University College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, under the direction of Scott Beahen, will be preparing the dinner. Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour, an experienced auctioneer, will conduct the live auction. Heart & Soul, 939 Ontario Ave., was founded more than 30 years ago by a prayer group at the former Sacred Heart Parish, 11th Street and South Avenue. Today, an average of 145 meals are served daily in the dining room and the food pantry serves about 375 households per month. Much of the food is obtained through the Food Bank of Western New York.

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HARD TO SEE: With all the snowfall in the past couple of months, plow drivers have faced a challenge of where to put it all. One place that should be off limits is any intersection (e.g. Whirlpool Street & Cleveland Avenue) where the steep pile obstructs the view of motorists.

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TRIVIA QUIZ: When it joined the union, what state added the 49th star to the U.S. flag? (Answer Sunday).

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.

Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.