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Why All U.S. West Coasters Should Thank Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk

This might be a hard pill for some to swallow, as Tesla Motors’ (NASDAQ: TSLA ) CEO Elon Musk largely generates passionate polar responses, but if you live on the West Coast, you might want to send a thank-you note to Musk and hope that Tesla takes the Chinese auto market by storm in 2014 and beyond.

The electric-vehicle maker, which crushed earnings’ estimates and provided a better than expected 2014 forecast when it reported its fourth-quarter results last week, starts shipping its Model S sedan to Chinese buyers this spring. There are several reasons to believe Tesla should do better in China than even optimistic forecasters are predicting. While the Model S’s success in China will, naturally, reward Tesla shareholders, it will also likely eventually benefit everyone who breathes on the West Coast.

Add “pollution” to the list of things China is exporting to the U.S.
There have been studies showing that China’s air pollution is blowing across the Pacific Ocean and harming the air quality on the West Coast. That’s hardly surprising, as China’s air pollution is beyond horrendous.

According to weather.com: “Strong winds known as westerlies push the pollution across the Pacific Ocean and toward the U.S. The winds are strongest during the spring. Dust, ozone and carbon (known as black carbon pollution) can accumulate in valleys in California and other Western states.”

China’s air pollution, of course, is coming from several sources. It’s generally agreed upon that the three main sources are coal burning for power generation, factories, and emissions from gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. There’s disagreement, however, among those who have studied this issue as to what extent each of these factors is responsible for the problem. Some, for instance, blame motor vehicle emissions for the “majority” of Beijing’s air pollution, while others point to studies, such as those done by Tsinghua and Peking universities, pegging auto emissions’ share of the blame at 20%-30%.

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