Boring Company and SpaceX Have Weaker Competition Than Tesla Motors

Elon Musk Boring Company and SpaceX have weaker competition than Tesla Motors.

SpaceX rocket competitors did not act for ten years while SpaceX developed disruptively lower cost rockets and reusable rockets.

United Launch Alliance has yet to fly the new Vulcan rocket. They plan to reduce their launch costs from $350 million for a Delta IV Heavy to $100 million for a Vulcan rocket.

The first launch of a Vulcan is now scheduled for 2021. Blue Origin had previously planned to introduce its New Glenn orbital vehicle in 2020. The ULA Vulcan and the Blue Origin New Glenn both use the new Blue Origin BE-4 engine in its first stage. Both rockets have slipped the first launch date to 2021.

Blue Origin has a reputation for being innovative and backed by the wealth of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. However, Blue Origin has not launched a rocket to orbit yet.

The established US large rocket companies have failed for twenty years to adapt Space Shuttle booster technology into a successful rocket.

Ariane laughed off SpaceX for years and only now is trying to make a lower cost rocket with partial reusability. The head of Ariane was still recently making excuses about having to massively restructure and trim staff if they made a reusable rocket. Only one fully reusable rocket would be needed to make Ariane’s 6 to ten launches per year.

Russia and China’s companies also failed to react to the proven emergence of reusable rockets. China has announced plans for reusability for rockets but they waited years and it will still be around 2030 before China will have what SpaceX has now.

Every SpaceX competitor is at least ten years behind SpaceX in terms of a Falcon 9 block 5 with a reusable first stage. They are fifteen years behind SpaceX in terms of a Falcon Heavy with first stage reuse. They are twenty or more years behind the Super Heavy Starship if SpaceX succeeds with that in 2020.

Tunnel Boring Machines and Tunnel Construction Industry

The Tunnel Boring Machine makers have many companies making incremental improvements at best. Boring Company wants to lower American tunneling prices, from between $600 million to $1 billion a mile to about $60 million. Boring Company wants to speed up tunneling by 10 to 30 times and to make all-electric tunneling machines. Boring Company wants to produce bricks on-site out of the dirt they dig and to reinforce tunnels as they are dug.

Most tunneling engineers are dismissing the Boring Company goals.

This is the ideal market for Elon Musk. One that has not had true innovation for decades and one where the experts will not respond for ten years after Elon gets his technology working and where the companies are not financially or corporately structured to quickly follow disruptive innovation. The management of the tunnel machine makers and of the tunnel construction companies are not ready to rethink innovation.

The Tunnel Boring Machine market is an over $5 billion per year industry. CRCHI, CREG, Dalian Huarui Heavy Industry Group Co., Ltd., Herrenknecht AG, Hitachi Zosen Corporation, IHI Corporation, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Limited, Komatsu Ltd., Northern Heavy Industries Group Co., Ltd., and Qinhuangdao Tianye Tolian Heavy Industry Co. are major builders of Tunnel Boring Machines.

There are several types of tunneling machines:
* slurry TBM
* earth pressure balance shield TBM
* shielded TBM,
* multi-mode TBM, and others.

The shielded TBM segment generated a market share of 31.2% in 2017 and would dominate the market through 2025.

Based on geology type, the tunnel market has
* soft ground,
* hard rock ground,
* heterogenous ground, and
* variable ground.

The soft ground segment would grow at the fastest CAGR of 6.8% from 2018 to 2025. The end-user segment is divided into road transport, railway transport, metro & transit, utilities, mining, oil & gas, and others. The mining segment would achieve the fastest growth of 6.9% through 2025.

The Tunnel project companies are construction engineering companies that look to continue with business as it has been for decades.

In the world, there are currently tunnel related projects worth US$1.37 trillion.

Europe has US$572.6 billion in active tunnel projects. (42% of the total global value)
Asia-Pacific has US$477.2 billion in tunnel projects.
The Americas US$212.3 billion in tunnel projects.
The Middle East and Africa has US$108.9 billion.

The highest value of projects are at the execution stage, with US$790.1 billion, followed by projects at the planning stage with US$304.5 billion. The UK leads the global project pipeline, with projects valued at US$184.0 billion, followed by China with US$160.2 billion.

Annual tunnel spending should reach US$117.0 billion in 2021. The total length of total tunnel projects is 3693km with China leading with 457km.

Boring Company does not look like they will see a deep-pocketed competitor with innovation chops to match them in disrupting existing markets or to keep up if Boring Company creates new markets.

Existing subway experts just dismiss what Boring Company is attempting. Space rocket companies dismissed the SpaceX innovation until they were forced from the market.

What Technological Advances Have Been Made in Tunneling?

The advancements in TBM technology for the past 20 years are as follows.

* Machines continue to grow in size.

* Multi-mode machines allow for tunneling in changing ground conditions. As designers continue to put tunnels deeper underground, machine manufacturers are coming up with innovations to tackle these high pressures.

* Precast segmental lining technology continues to see major advancements. High strength precision linings can be produced to within 0.1 mm tolerance on a consistent basis. Gaskets can provide sealing for pressures up to 25 bar and more, and resist acidic groundwater with a pH of 3. Dowel and bolting systems allow for rings to be built quickly and accurately while providing high pull-out and shear performance. Steel fiber reinforcement helps minimize cracking and maximize casting time. Corrosion-resistant linings can now be cast into segments without the need for seam welding.

* Admixture companies are now able to customize soil conditioners and grout mixtures to tackle any type of ground conditions. Admixture technology for concrete has also allowed for concrete mixes that limit deterioration and greatly increase strength.

None of the work is addressing the kind of innovation that Elon Musk is attempting with Boring Company. There is no tunneling companies currently looking to disrupt the speed of tunneling or to disrupt the cost of tunneling.

Bechtel is the delivery partner on Crossrail, a new east-west rail route across Greater London. Bechtel delivered some 250 miles (400 kilometers) of tunnels for infrastructure projects including city development, rail, airports and roads.

There is no highly active group with large research and development.

Tesla Electric Cars Has More Competition for Electric Cars and Batteries

Tesla is seeing a lot more competition with companies scaling up battery factories and with new and old car makers making electric cars and trucks. Tesla usually leads with innovation but car makers respond in the same year or within three years.

Written By Brian Wang,

13 thoughts on “Boring Company and SpaceX Have Weaker Competition Than Tesla Motors”

  1. With as mush press SpaceX is receiving, u might think there could be support for podcasting to reconcile why so many (tech) miracles presently exist here on earth…
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  2. Interesting play by Musk that he will build cars in China just in case the vested interests in the West try to derail Tesla giving him a backup plan. Just do it all in China…. vs his approach to Spacex which has much less resistance from the US interests despite the United Launch Alliance. You can see his motivation to get stuff done in those two positions.

  3. Good point on the tortoise and the hare, but I don’t see the Musk hare resting on his laurels and time soon. He’s more like the Energizer bunny, keeps going and going and …

  4. Why not use lots of tiny explosive shaped charges instead of grinding the rock with cutters the old fashioned way? perhaps in the future progress into using lasers/energy beams.
    Cheap tunneling with transform our cities world wide.

  5. The article is true. And I think Space-X has the biggest advantages over its competitors. The only issue is how big the market is. Space Tourism maybe the killer app.

  6. His rockets, his money, his dreams.

    I see no problem at all with someone making his own rocket launcher company, then improve said rocket launchers to be reusable and finally, increase payload and reduce cost dramatically, just to be able to take a few of these rocket ships to Mars one day.

    I’d call that an example of dedication to a mission and of not wasting other people’s money in personal wishes.

  7. Space travel future is still flaky and pending to be determined, while electric car’s future is much more solid and certain.

    My hunch is E. Musk is playing the long term game of taking the best nation-state player to dominance in space. And as an American entrepreneur, he sees America as such. Of course, he first sees his own company as the best driver for human space future.

    Once human space travel becomes a much more common occurrence and there is a strong market for it, he could relax. If he is still alive to see that, of course.

    Plenty of long term projects flourish after those that dreamed them had passed, and this one looks like a very long term one.

  8. Bezos’s deep pockets will be small compared to Elon Musk once starlink reaches their goals.

  9. I would argue that without “messianic Mars visions” we wouldn’t have SpaceX. I’m sure BO will be successful eventually but I believe the launch market would significantly grown by then to support multiple providers due to lower costs.

  10. Musk doesn’t mind if the electric vehicle competition flourishes, because he sees it as a win-win for the environment. He won’t disclose SpaceX IP, because the fear is that China will simply use it to seize and dominate the entire launch market.

  11. Tesla also made all of their electric-car patents freely available, which only helps their competition.

    SpaceX on the other hand chose to keep all of their reusabilty technology secret (didn’t even patent them). This is one of the things that is keeping SpaceX well ahead of their competition in their sector.

  12. Blue Origin will provide SpaceX more competition once it ramps up its launch operations over the next few years. Bezos has deeper pockets, while also being unencumbered by messianic Mars visions or other flights of fancy. He isn’t peddling weird exotic ideas like Point-to-Point passenger travel on Earth via rockets. It may just be that Blue’s tortoise mascot is able to apply steady effort to beat Musk’s agile hare in the long run.

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