Elon Musk spoke at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit this week, and as usual, he had plenty to say – in an hour-long interview and a Q&A with reporters, he covered a wide range of topics.
The gadfly of the automotive industry reiterated his long-standing challenge to other automakers to move faster on electrification. “The need to transition to electric cars is urgent,” said Musk. “We can’t rely on scarcity to drive the price of oil and gas and rely on that [to speed adoption of EVs]. We have to figure out how to do it without high oil and gas prices.”
“Invest in electric vehicles,” Musk exhorted other automakers. “You won’t regret it.”
Musk praised GM’s game-changing new Bolt EV, which he sees as good news for the industry as a whole. “I don’t see it as a competitive threat,” he said. “I think all cars will go electric. There are a hundred million new cars and trucks made every year. So what does it matter if someone makes a few hundred thousand additional electric cars? It’s not going to affect us, really.”
Musk’s most widely cited comments concerned sales in China, which he conceded have been disappointing of late. “Things were a little weaker in China because of some communications issues, most importantly around charging,” he said. “There was a misconception that charging was difficult in China.” He called the slowdown a short-term issue that is being resolved, and noted that “excellent” sales in Europe are making up for it. The stock market wasn’t amused – TSLA stock slid over 5% the day after Musk’s speech.
For what seems like the hundredth time, Musk explained why he believes hydrogen fuel cells are a dead end – “extremely silly” was his description. He explained that hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism, not a source of energy, and that producing it by electrolysis is extremely inefficient. Using electricity to make hydrogen is about half as efficient as simply using it to charge a battery. “Why would you do that?” asked Musk. “It makes no sense. If you’re going to pick an energy storage mechanism, hydrogen is an incredibly dumb one to pick. You should just pick methane or propane. That will become apparent in the next few years.”
A few more tidbits:
- Tesla will continue rapidly ramping up production volumes. “We should be able to produce a few million cars a year by 2025.”
- Musk clarified that the Model 3’s projected price of $35,000 doesn’t include any state or federal tax incentives. The mass-market Tesla will be around 20% smaller than the Model S, and some features that are standard on the larger car will be optional on the 3. “It will be way different from any other car on the road, [but] in a way that’s really useful and just doesn’t feel like a weird-mobile.”
- Tesla plans to be “first to market with autonomous features.”
- The Model X has been delayed by technical issues, notably the gull-wing doors, but the entire first model year’s planned production run is already sold out.