Elon Musk Throws Shade At Apple, German Automakers - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
10/10/2015
12:05 PM
50%
50%

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.

Apple's Project Titan: 8 Rumors We're Following
Apple's Project Titan: 8 Rumors We're Following
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

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

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2015 | 2:47:16 PM
We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
But, you're not going to change ANYTHING until you, or someone else, can develop a battery that can charge as fast, or at least almost as fast, as you can fill up a present day car with gasoline. Until then, electric cars will only be toys for the rich, like space tourism. Do I see a pattern here?
Kafantaris2
50%
50%
Kafantaris2,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/10/2015 | 5:14:25 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
We got in the wrong path with battery cars. There is simply no electric grid around that can sustain their tremendous load of charging them day after day -- even in relatively small numbers. And if electric cars have fast charging batteries, their power draw on the grid would be so high they would put the lights out -- leaving us all in the dark. Hydrogen cars on the other hand store their energy in the fuel molecules themselves -- eliminating the need to transfer huge amounts of raw power all at once. This distinction alone leaves hydrogen as the only workable alternative for clean transportation. The battery car folks got it wrong -- and they have led us wrong.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 5:15:29 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Hydrogen cell is another interesting technology. However, conversion, infrastructure and transport costs have not always been in its favor.

Battery technology on the other hand has been making a lot of progress. For instance, the cost of a battery is at around $275/kWh at present and it is predicted to reach $150/kWh by 2020. This is beneficial to the electric car industry but, it also provides benefits to solar energy and the smart grid.
soozyg
50%
50%
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.
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
10/11/2015 | 10:38:27 AM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Gary, 

Tesla's Supercharger charges Tesla's electric car very fast. After finding a Supercharger station, you can charge a Tesla Model S while having a cup of coffee and a snack. Your Model S app will tell you when your car is charged. Isn't that fast enough for you?

It's not only how fast it charges what you need to value, though. The environmental benefits that bring electric cars can't be measured just for how long it takes for the car to fully charge. Or, are you going to tell me that it's more important to keep cars that run on gasoline polluting everyone's environment? 

-Susan 
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 2:29:59 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
No, as a matter of fact, that isn't fast enough for me. Nor is it fast enough for most consumers, when they get down to actually making a buying decision, and not just posturing. Plus, the electricity that goes into the charge, after you drive 100 miles looking for a charging station and then finish waiting for three hours for your turn, will have been generated by coal, a nuke, or at best, natural gas.

When and if the time comes that a decent battery can actually be made available to the public, there will have to be a few hundred billion dollars in investment to roughly double North America's electrical generating capacity. And, that generating capacity will all have to be solar and wind, with another titanic deployment of the new storage batteries at the new generating plants to store the energy generated when the sun shines and the wind blows for the time when sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing.

I'm not holding my breath.
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 8:21:16 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
to store the energy generated when the sun shines and the wind blows for the time when sun isn't shining and wind isn't blowing.

@Gary,

Point of information: Do solar panel work on cloudy days? Even on rainy days there is sun. Do solar panels not capture sun?

 
Gary_EL
50%
50%
Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 8:36:06 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
If they do, it's very, very little. Solar panels deliver power only in proportion to the sunlight they receive. That's why, when someone says a "300 megawatt" solar plant, that's only up to 300 megawatts during the day. How close it actually comes to 300 megawatts, even during the day, depends on how brightly the sun shines. That's why there is starting to be some talk about getting serious about this, and combining solar with the cleanest type of carbon-based power generation, which is natural gas. When the sun shines, turn off the gas. If the sun shines a bit, burn some gas. No sun? Then blast the gas.
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 10:23:32 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
Gotcha. I guess I thought there was a way to store it but that makes sense.
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
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
Gary_EL
50%
50%
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!
TerryB
50%
50%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 1:09:21 PM
Re: We want to do programs that are going to change the world.
@Susan, I've got to side with Gary on this one also. He covered the reasons perfectly. Everyone likes the idea of reducing pollution but, other than the Amish, I see very few people riding a horse instead of driving a car.

I'm not sure if you live in a city or not. But you lived in Green Bay like I do and occasionally drive back to Ohio where you grew up to visit friends, you'd see how very far we have to go to put in charging stations. For a lot of that trip, you are a long way between gas stations.

And think of the business model of gas stations versus charging stations. Are charging station owners going to get wholesale electricity and upcharge it a few cents to make their money? Or are you depending on electric car makers, the government, the electric companies, etc to put up all these charging stations in the middle of nowhere?

My daughter turns 12 tomorrow, I'd be shocked if she sees this in her lifetime, much less the years I have left on earth. And the argument of batteries versus another technology like hydrogen is valid also. Just because batteries can work now and hydrogen not so much, doesn't make it the right choice in the long run. While I admire Musk and his ideals, this is by no means a slam dunk like indoor plumbing over outhouses.

 
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
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
50%
50%
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. 
mak63
50%
50%
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.
Li Tan
50%
50%
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.
jnskm
50%
50%
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.
PedroGonzales
50%
50%
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 
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 4:27:53 AM
Competition
Competition is good for the electric car industry and it is good for individuals as well because, it creates headhunters that reward the skills of an individual.

If Apple is actually building an electric car, it will be interesting to see the competency that a smartphone maker can bring to the electric car industry. Battery technology and integrating distinct (CPUs, sensors, software and the cloud, etc.) technologies into a single product might be the competencies that the electric car industry requires. In that case, Samsung should also enter the industry.  
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 8:13:32 PM
Re: Competition
@Brian,

Interesting. Do you think mobile technology and engines are related like that? Is all technology connected like that so if you create X technology product it is just a matter of time before you can create Y product?
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
10/12/2015 | 4:28:51 AM
Re: Competition
@soozyg, vehicles with electric engines and mobile technology have some similarity. These products have a defined physical form and user requirements. A mobile phone has to store enough energy to sustain operations for an average day's usage and a vehicle has to store enough energy to drive for X amount of miles.

However, there are a few major differences as well. Cost is one, a mobile phone is on average a $500 product and a vehicle can cost $30,000. If a smartphone's battery dies 15 minutes before reaching home then, it is a minor inconvenience. But, if a vehicle loses power -- a tow truck is a major inconvenience.

Technology develops in stages, it can be extremely interrelated and creating an interrelated technology product is profitable. Similarities and differences are equally important otherwise, it is equally easy to link fire technology with a space program and lose vast amounts of capital.
soozyg
50%
50%
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.....
soozyg
50%
50%
soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2015 | 8:10:33 PM
electric
Tesla, which, despite its high profile and resoundingly good reviews, has yet to turn a profit 

--Why not? because the public on the whole is still reluctant to go electric?
News
The State of Chatbots: Pandemic Edition
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  9/10/2020
Commentary
Deloitte on Cloud, the Edge, and Enterprise Expectations
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/14/2020
Slideshows
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
Video
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
Slideshows
Flash Poll