Insane Mode

How Elon Musk's Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil
Narrated by: Hamish McKenzie
Length: 9 hrs and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A USA Today New and Noteworthy Title

"You’ll tell me if it ever starts getting genuinely insane, right?" (Elon Musk, TED interview)

Hamish McKenzie tells how a Silicon Valley start-up's wild dream came true. Tesla is a car company that stood up against not only the might of the government-backed Detroit car manufacturers but also the massive power of Big Oil and its benefactors, the infamous Koch brothers.

The award-winning Tesla Model 3, a premium mass-market electric car that went on sale in 2018, has reconfigured the popular perception of Tesla and continues to transform the public's relationship with motor vehicles - much like Ford's Model T did nearly a century ago. At the same time, company CEO Elon Musk courts controversy and spars with critics through his Twitter account, just as Tesla's ever-increasing debt teeters on junk-bond status....

As McKenzie's rigorously reported account shows, Tesla has triggered frenzied competition from newcomers and traditional automakers alike, but it retains an edge because of its expansive infrastructure and the stupendous battery factory it built in the Nevada desert. The popularity of electric cars is growing around the world, especially in China, and McKenzie interviews little-known titans who have the money and the market access to power a global electric car revolution quickly and decisively.

Insane Mode started off as a feature on the dual-motor Tesla Model S, which gave the car Ferrari-like acceleration, but it's also the perfect description of the operating cycle of a company that has sworn it won't rest until every car on the road is electric. Here is a story about the very best kind of American ingenuity and its history-making potential. Buckle up!

©2018 Hamish McKenzie (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Interpret it as a business book about overcoming the odds, or as an introduction to the alternative energy revolution in the works, or a portrait of a fascinating, strange person, or a wicked cool book about cars - or all of these." (Literary Hub, "Every Day is Earth Day: 365 Books to Start Your Climate Change Library")

"A must-read for everyone interested in cars, entrepreneurship, alternative energy, and deeper insights into out-of-the-box thinking, working, and living." (Booklist)

"McKenzie has delivered a narrative that both fascinates and frustrates: Musk’s passion for a clean-energy future is contagious, but at the same time it’s painful to see the struggle of the electric-car industry to widen its market and win over more consumers. Insane Mode will leave you wondering how different our roads would look if we embraced a technology that almost seems inevitable, batteries included." (The Washington Post)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Deceptive Title Leads to Disappointing Book

I know the author Hamish McKenzie put a lot of work into this new book because the amount of details it contains on the topic of electric powered vehicles world-wide. What this book is not by any means is the story of Tesla or the Model 3's manufacturing challenges, which the title ... Insane Mode is referencing to capitalize on a story many people who follow, own and admire Tesla's efforts would love to hear.

Several times during listing to this book I wanted to return it. First because of feeling mislead by the title, second, because I was learning very little that is not already published about Electric Vehicles in the public domain. and thirdly, It more a story of one persons' journey through meetings and/or thoughts about the key players in the current quest to build and sell the best electric and autonomous car. I am not saying don't purchase this book as much as I think potential listeners need to be forewarned not to judge this book by its title and cover.

4 people found this helpful

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The standard on electric vehicles

I have been covering the auto/technology/energy sectors for investment banks and hedge funds for over a decade, so the subject of this book is both a professional and personal obsession of sorts. I have watched the EV industry grow from a pipe dream to the perhaps the largest and most impactful technological trend on earth. There are so many important stories worth telling, and finally we have someone who is up to the task.

Insane Mode is a deeply researched and thoroughly reported journey on both Tesla and the broader EV industry. Hamish’s excellent prose helps smooth the passage, which is no easy task considering the subject matter. The Tesla story is so much bigger than its stock price, and Hamish never loses sight of this. Musk, and many other EV evangelists like this reviewer, believe we are fighting for the very survival of the planet. Zooming out to this important framework is something many other Musk/EV books fail to do. Hamish also provides excellent color on the rapidly developing EV industry in China - which dwarfs the US market in size and government involvement.

In summary, this book has something for everyone. Whether you are a casual observer of the auto industry, a Tesla owner, or an EV evangelist - this book will better your understanding and provide an entertaining read

1 person found this helpful

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A Climate Change Book Disguised As One About Tesla

This book is not really just about Elon Musk or Tesla it's main point in climate change and the story is all over the place. I expected more story about Tesla and Elon Musk but they were just a reference point for the author's climate change and anti-Trump agenda. The biased writing was nto well thought out and I found the story like listening to someone with ADHD who drank 6 Red Bulls and then tried to give a high school paper on climate change. The story should have been labeled "Electric Car Company Wanna-bes Versus Big Oil".

The author presented his climate change agenda and trashed the opposing side especially focusing on the Koch brothers. The story had potential to be very informative about the current state (as of the writing) of the evolution of Elon Musk's lifelong dream of building electric cars, but the focus was not very good on this subject. The info given on the other players in the electric car industry was brief as the writer tried to include every start-up that has tried to dominate the emerging market. He showed a fascination with Communist China throughout his writing.

The book was ok nothing spectacular and no info was given that hasn't already been presented, not included the biased opinions of the writer that was heavy throughout the book.

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Good book for Elon Musk fanboys.

This audiobook blatantly lets you into the mind of the typical Silicon Valley mindset. My biggest qualms about the book are that the author completely fails to mention the implications of how we acquire lithium ion. Ironically lithium is mined in third world nations in which the US wages war to exploit and capitalize off of. Author takes multiple jabs at President Trump periodically through the book and conflates the Paris Climate Accord to be humanity’s savior. In fact, the Paris agreement was the worst thing for the environment as it drove smaller competitors out of business or overseas where there are NO regulation of any kind. The exact mindset of the typical democratic Silicon Valley tech capitalist, “out of sight out of mind” me mentality. I am not particular a supporter of any party nor Trump, but using a book about electric vehicles to chastise our president and why he is ruining everything while failing to mention AT ALL the conditions in which the oppressed people who mine lithium for our “future” doesn’t sit well with me.