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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tesla is riding high these days, but two developments could create reputational risks for the world's most valuable car company.

Driving the news: Tesla is beginning to face criticism over the climate effects of its big new investment in bitcoin and the decision to accept it as payment — even though electric vehicles are lower-CO2 alternatives to gasoline vehicles.

Why it matters: Bitcoin "mining" to process transactions is very energy-intensive, so promotion of its use could add to its carbon footprint.

What they're saying: Ben Dear, CEO of the sustainable investment firm Osmosis Investment Management, tells Reuters: “We are of course very concerned about the level of carbon dioxide emissions generated from bitcoin mining.”

  • He said Tesla should disclose energy consumption associated with its bitcoin ventures.
  • More broadly, some analysts see Tesla's decision to accept bitcoin as potentially widening its use in transactions more broadly.
  • Reuters says Tesla's bitcoin backing could "turbo-charge global use of a currency."
  • The Verge is also reporting on the climate angle.

Driving the news, part 2: New research from Edmunds finds that five Tesla models they tested showed less range per charge than the vehicles' EPA estimates.

  • The analysis, which Edmunds notes is designed as a "real-world complement to the EPA's laboratory-based process," found the vehicles had 2.5%-17.4% less range.
  • The one with 17.4% less was a 2018 Model 3 Performance edition, which had 256 miles of range instead of 310 in the EPA estimate.

But, but, but: Tesla still had two of the five longest-range vehicles among the 15 models Edmunds tested.

  • The biggest difference between the EPA and Edmunds findings was with the 2020 Porsche Taycan 4S, which went 59% further in the Edmunds test at 323 miles.

Of note: Gasoline-powered vehicles can also underperform their EPA estimates, and in general, mileage and range are influenced by all sorts of conditions and driving styles.

The bottom line: Tesla's on a good run, having become consistently profitable. But the EV market is getting more competitive, so these topics are worth keeping an eye on.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Feb 11, 2021 - Economy & Business

Memes as economic stimulus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The current stratospheric levels of cryptocurrencies in general, and Dogecoin in particular, can make it a lot easier to spend money.

Driving the news: Another part of the thinking behind the Tesla cryptocurrency announcement is that for someone sitting on a lot of bitcoin, it's psychologically easier to transfer a single bitcoin to Tesla than it would be to try to write a check for $40,000.

3 hours ago - Sports

Gonzaga University revokes NBA great John Stockton's tickets over mask stance

Former Utah Jazz player John Stockton during a 2017 press conference in Salt Lake City. Photo: Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Gonzaga University suspended the season tickets of notable alumni John Stockton after the NBA Hall of Famer failed to comply with the school's basketball games mask mandate, the Spokesman-Review first reported.

Driving the news: "Basically, it came down to, they were asking me to wear a mask to the games and being a public figure, someone a little bit more visible, I stuck out in the crowd a little bit," the former Utah Jazz point guard told the outlet in an interview Saturday.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, undersecretary for political affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. chargés d'affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and nonessential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy's ability to assist Americans.