Elon Musk's much talked about Hyperloop has been released in its infancy, and this already seems to be one of those projects that is likely to get lost in the shuffle. Unless Musk is willing to generate private financing that can ultimately reach a total commitment of the majority of a $6 billion to $7.5 billion range, the Hyperloop connecting San Francisco to Los Angeles is likely to be nothing more than a media point of discussion for years.
In Musk's discussion, an investment in the transportation system of this size has to be followed by equally massive returns. Musk thinks that compared to alternatives, a new investment has to be safer and faster at a lower cost that is also more convenient. He also said that it has to be immune from weather, self-powered (sustainably), resistant to earthquakes and, perhaps most importantly, that it would have to not be disruptive to those along the route.
The Hyperloop Alpha has 57 pages in the document. Musk admits that there are likely to be errors in the initial calculations, and he is crowdsourcing feedback as a result. Unfortunately, Musk is very tied down running both Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) and SpaceX, and he also is tied to SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) as chairman.
While trying to make space privatization returns, figuring our how to one-up electric vehicle critics and monitor home and business solar installations, how can Musk truly take on the task of meeting his own strict criteria to create a new transportation system? He likely cannot, not short of delegating all duties and developments outside of acting as the PR face man for the initiative.
Maybe the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Energy will come into play here. If not, Musk likely will have to find serious financial backing for a San Francisco to Los Angeles new mode of transportation that has a projected cost of $6 billion to $7.5 billion.
Our guess is that the complexities of California alone might make this proposed project more than just a difficult one. With all the underfunded projects already envisioned and not able to get off the ground, we likely will be discussing the Hyperloop notion a decade from now. If you read through the document, the vehicle does have some interesting ways of powering itself, methods of propulsion and how it would travel safely in its proposed form at such high speeds,
FULL 57 PAGE HYPERLOOP ALPHA DOCUMENT