Elon Musk Throws Shade At Apple, German Automakers - InformationWeek

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10/10/2015
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Elon Musk Throws Shade At Apple, German Automakers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks electric cars and emissions scandals -- and throws some shade at Apple, Toyota, and German automakers. However, he later backed off some comments in a Tweet.

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Elon Musk, the charismatic CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, has never been one to shy away from speaking his mind. In an interview with the German business newspaper Handelsblatt this week he provided some candid insights on Apple and other companies.

Musk took the opportunity to reference Apple's recent poaching of Tesla employees, which the report referred to as the company's most important engineers.

Apple recently hired Jamie Carlson, a former senior engineer at Tesla, reportedly to help develop Project Titan, the codename for the company's alleged electric car project.

"We always jokingly call Apple the Tesla Graveyard," Musk told the paper. "They have hired people we've fired … If you don't make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I'm not kidding."

All ribbing aside, Musk, who has previously challenged other tech firms to focus on developing electric vehicles, also had warm words for Apple, though he was measured in his enthusiasm.

Elon Musk
(Image: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr)

Elon Musk

(Image: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr)

"It's good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches," Musk said. "You can't just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: 'Build me a car.' But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough."

Later, Musk sent out a Tweet that backed off on some of the Apple comments.

"Yo, I don't hate Apple. It's a great company with a lot of talented people. I love their products and I'm glad they're doing an EV," he wrote on his official Twitter account.

In the intreview with the paper, Musk also outlined his plan for Tesla, which, despite its high profile and resoundingly good reviews, has yet to turn a profit -- something he acknowledges can't continue indefinitely.

"I hope to be profitable next year. I agree, we cannot be making losses forever. This year we'll be investing a lot into the manufacturing ramp-up of the Model X, and in the long term, the Model 3 as well," he explained. "So our goal from next year onwards is to be cash-flow positive. But we wouldn't slow down our growth for the sake of profitability."

Although Musk credited German companies like Bosch and Dräxlmaier for being integral to Tesla's manufacturing process, he used Volkswagen as an example of the limits of fossil fuel technology, saying the company had to cheat in order to appear competitive.

Musk also chastised Daimler and Japanese carmaker Toyota for not being ambitious enough with their own electric car efforts.

[Read about Toyota's $50 million AI investment.]

"The problem that we found with programs we did with Toyota and with Daimler was that they ended up being too small," he said. "They basically just calculated the amount they needed to keep the regulators happy and made the program as small as possible. We don't want to do programs like that. We want to do programs that are going to change the world."

The interview follows the debut of Tesla's latest vehicle, the Model X, a sport utility vehicle that features advanced safety features and Falcon Wing doors, and that boasts seating for up to seven passengers.

The most eye-catching feature is the Falcon Wing doors, which require only a foot of clearance. The doors articulate up and out of the way, allowing passengers to enter from both front and rear directions.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2015 | 6:17:11 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Isn't Hydrogen cell impossibly expensive to develop? It would be the easiest to procure but I think I read a while ago that gathering is simple; processing is prohibitively expensive.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/21/2015 | 4:16:56 PM
Re: Competition
it is equally easy to link fire technology with a space program and lose vast amounts of capital.

Ha. yes, that makes sense and it's funny. But smartphone/electric car technology should be very different, no? Unless the computers that run them have similarities.....
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
10/16/2015 | 9:41:49 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
I'm surprise to read that Tesla isn't making any profits for Musk.  I think there is a really huge contraction. Sure, many people want electrical cars, but few people are willing to purchase one and industry doesn't seem to support such endeavors may be society isn't ready to such cars.  May be they should work on improving hybrid cars or electric bikes, they will sure be more affordable for the regular consumers 
jnskm
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jnskm,
User Rank: Moderator
10/16/2015 | 5:03:21 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Although announced the battery pack replacement service has not been implemented on a national/global basis. But when, not if, it happens 'charging' will happen in less time than it does when we fill our tanks with gas.

Convenience is not the most important thing that we should consider when deciding what is worth investing in and what is not. We have one earth and the way we have been fueling our transportation needs will not be sustainable. The earth is torn up, the fossils extracted then processed then distributed, and then put into engines that produce power but also exhaust terribly toxic materials. We need to find a better a way and for now electric cars seem to be the answer. Of course a lot of the electricity is powered by fossil fuels but that is changing too with the massive investment in solar power, by Tesla.

Tesla is not perfect, but I think what Tesla is doing is worth our investment, worth our patience. I'm personally looking forward to the Model 3. I will be able to afford it -- if what Elon is saying is true that it will be in the $30K range -- and so will millions of others. And by that time I'm also hoping solar powered Tesla supercharging stations will have battery swap services that will make it less than a few minutes to recharge. That'll be the day.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 2:20:39 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
The charging is still pretty slow nowadays, which is a major burden for electricity car. I cannot imagine waiting for charging to complete except I park it at garage overnight.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/15/2015 | 12:18:18 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Well, according to the Tesla Webpage, the closest one to Boston is 10 miles away, and the next closest is 40. You flatter me with the presumption that I can afford almost $100,000 for a car, but alas, I cannot, so it's not my problem. But I will admit that I AM IMPRESSED with the website's CLAIM that it can charge the vehicle in "minutes". If the claim isn't hyperbole, I find that very promising, because if the feat is technologically possible, continued R&D should eventually bring the cost down and make more stations possible. But you can be sure it won't be for free for long! I did some research on this topic for another publication, this is a Very Big Improvement over what was possible only a few months ago. Thanks for the info!
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
10/14/2015 | 11:55:05 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
I agree wholeheartedly with this phrase.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
10/13/2015 | 5:37:59 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Gary, Tesla's charging stations count with multiple Superchargers (nearly 3000 just in the US, which are free to use) There is no such a thing as a three-hour wait. Was that your experience? The Superchargers charge the battery in full in minutes. Those minutes are just a few minutes if you don't need to charge the full battery, which is the most common case as the battery is rarely going to be empty unless you ignore it when it has to be charged. Here you can see all the charging stations located in the US: Superchargers are free connectors that charge Model S in minutes instead of hours. Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots. Each station contains multiple Superchargers to help you get back on the road quickly. Have a look here: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger -Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
10/13/2015 | 5:18:57 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
TerryB, there are 527 Supercharger Stations just in the US with multiple and free Superchargers, that's nearly 3000 Superchargers just in the US: Look here: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger Tesla is the owner of the Superchargers. This is not like the business model of the gas stations. The Supercharger Stations are already there to be used. This is not planning for the future. Your daughter can see this as soon as she gets a drivinng license and gets an electric car. As for your question to where I live, I live in Europe, rotating between cities. -Susan
danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 8:05:26 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
I think it is very interesting to see what Tesla has been able to accomplish. It's been very hard for that company to come in and disrupt the car industry and they have been able to sell a lot of cars. 

Now they need to legitmize by turning a profit. I have no doubt that they can do this. It's just going to take time and they will have to focus on selling cars to the masses. 
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