Tesla CEO Elon Musk covers a lot of ground in a recent interview with Investment icon Ron Baron. He explains how, as a young man, he identified the five tech areas that would have the greatest impact on mankind’s future, and set out to make his mark.
He also gives propers to early partner AC Propulsion, saying that these EV pioneers should receive more credit, and he tells the story of how Tesla acquired its massive Fremont plant, where the company someday hopes to produce at least half a million cars per year.
Things really get interesting around 27:00, when Baron asks Musk about Tesla’s battery chemistry. How can we be sure that the batteries that the company is investing so much to build at the Gigafactory won’t be made obsolete, leapfrogged by some other industry player?
Not to worry, says Musk. “I think we have quite a good understanding of all the battery technologies in the world. There could be some small laboratory that’s being super-secret, but generally what people inventing battery technologies try to do is, they approach Tesla first and foremost, because we’re the biggest lithium-ion consumer in the world. We’d be their biggest customer.”
“We track right now about 60 different efforts around the world to develop and improve batteries, and some of them hold some long-term promise, but we rate all of them from 1 to 5, where 5 is ‘we should be doing business with them,’ and 1 is complete B.S.”
“How many 5s are there?” asks Baron, hopeful, as any EV pundit must be, that a bodacious battery breakthrough is right around the corner.
Alas, Musk dashes our hopes. “There’s no 5s,” unfortunately, or even any 4s at this point. There are some 3s, and a few that might rise from a 3 to a 4, at which point Tesla would be interested in preliminary discussions.
Asked if there will be some super-duper 1,000-mile battery in 10 years, Musk says he doubts there will be quite that much of an improvement. He points out (as he has before) that Tesla could build a 500-mile car today, but the trade-offs in terms of weight and space wouldn’t be worth it.
Source: Elon Musk via Baron Investment Conference