Elon Musk and his companies are famously not the best at keeping promises. But one of his properties blows all others out of the water: The Boring Company. A new piece in The Wall Street Journal has highlighted the trials and tribulations of working with Musk’s tunnel digging organization.
From the reporting, it sounds like when the tough gets going, so does The Boring Company. It’s delivered on just about nothing in the way of the projects it has planned and agreed upon with cities around the U.S. Musk blames government regulators for this, but odds are that the extremely low estimated price of projects are more at fault here.
Boring has yet to make good on its most ambitious pitch: that it can design tunnel-boring machines that are so fast to operate that they will drive down costs and shake up the industry. Tunneling industry veterans question some of Mr. Musk’s claims.
Mr. Musk has frequently criticized government regulation, calling it an impediment to building new infrastructure. At a WSJ CEO Council event in 2020, he said he had moved from California to Texas, where Tesla was building a new factory, in part because of government regulations. Government should “just get out of the way,” he said.
Elon’s tunnels have been planned in cities all over, and from Maryland to Chicago to California, local municipalities have been stiffed.
The only tunnels that really exist are two 0.8-mile single-direction tunnels under the Las Vegas Convention Center as well as a small offshoot that can take riders to the Resorts World casino and hotel.
Even this is a far cry from what Musk envisioned. The Teslas that live within the tunnel are not using Autopilot. They are controlled by humans. On top of that, Musk’s idea of a 700 mph vacuum-powered train is literally nowhere to be found in the real world. That hasn’t stopped Musk from taking investors’ money, though.
To add insult to injury, seasoned drillers are not impressed with many of Musk’s proposals, and they say a lot of the tech he heralds as cutting edge has been around for quite a while. They also don’t believe a lot of Musk’s projections are feasible. Shocking, I know.
Veterans of the tunneling industry note that tunnel-boring machines have been electrified for decades, and that neither continuous construction of the tunnel lining nor digging in from aboveground is new.
Boring’s speed claims are “totally unrealistic,” said Lok Home, president of the Robbins Co., a leading maker of tunnel-boring machines. “There’ll be improvements here, for sure, but there’s not going to be a revolution.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg for what’s inside WSJ’s article. I highly recommend you take the time to read it right here.