Elon Musk takes on Detroit

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Matt Pressman

This week Tesla Motors had a booth at the Detroit Auto Show. Even though the forthcoming Model X and/or Model 3 wasn't present at Tesla's booth, there was plenty of exciting news. This came yesterday via Tesla CEO Elon Musk's special visit to Detroit. Musk, as always, delivered some pertinent information that is valuable to both Tesla owners and TSLA investors. 

First, Musk made an invite-only visit with Tesla's Michigan owners at Tesla's booth.


Photos: above, image courtesy of Tesla Motors's tweet showing Elon Musk with Michigan Tesla owners; below, Tesla's branded battery give-away to media at their booth.

As an added bonus, Musk also did an exclusive Q&A with the Michigan owners. Special thanks to youtube user KmanAuto, it was actually all caught on video (see below).


Next, Musk was off to give a one-on-one interview at the Automotive World News Conference immediately followed by an extensive Q&A with members of the press. Note: if you're interested in viewing these interviews in full (I definitely recommend it), there is video below. Top video (below) is the media's Q&A, and, the bottom video (below) is the one-on-one interview that Musk gave "in the lion's den" at the Automotive World News Conference. However, if you'd prefer a quick summary of key highlights from these sessions, I've included these below under the videos ... 



  • Musk thinks Tesla can get to "a few million cars a year" by 2025.
  • Tesla will top 500,000 in production volume after 2020, Musk says.
  • The main reason I’m here is to talk about electric vehicles and to do what I can to encourage other automakers to accelerate their electric-vehicle programs. The need for sustainable transport is incredibly high.”
  • "Making electric cars and bringing them to the mass market is an extremely important thing, so even if people are negative, I don't care. We're still going to do it."
  • Tesla sells in 34 countries, currently.
  • "Our aspiration was to deliver 33,000 cars" last year. "We sold, in terms of cars, far more than that."
  • Musk says he saw growth in North America and Europe, and a slight, temporary slow-down in 4Q in China: "people have the perception that charging is difficult in China," but now Musk says Tesla already "solved" this transient problem.
  • Before Tesla considers franchised dealerships, Musk says the company first needs “to establish a solid base with our own stores.”
  • Re: other electric cars at the show: “I think that’s great. I hope to see a lot more of that.” He still thinks there’s a lot more EV attention needed from the big automakers. “It’s clearly not front and center.”
  • On the new Chevy Bolt EV: "I don't see it as a competitive threat, because I think all cars will go electric... I was pleased to see Mary Barra [CEO at GM]... sounds like they're going to do something significant [with EVs] with the Bolt."
  • On hydrogen vs. electric, Musk calls hydrogen fuel cells "extremely silly... You have to get that hydrogen from somewhere. If you're splitting H2O, electrolysis is extremely inefficient. If you compared it to a solar panel to charge a battery directly... it is about half the efficiency. It's terrible... It has extremely low density, it's invisible, you can't even tell if it's leaking, it's extremely flammable. Hydrogen is an extremely dumb [energy source] to pick. You might as well pick methane... I've said my piece on this. It'll be super obvious as time goes by."
  • On ZEV credits, he explains a level-playing field and that ALL companies can receive these if they make EVs: “It’s not a special handout for Tesla. This existed decades before Tesla. To [all other automotive] companies I would say, hey, why don’t you make zero-emission vehicles.”
  • Musk wants a carbon tax, people are pumping it into the atmosphere, and we're all paying: "It's like having the garbage pile in the street, and no one's paying for it."
  • Re: the Model X : “This car is really good. I don’t say these things lightly.”
  • Tesla is doing preliminary work on the Model 3, the company’s mass-market vehicle: he mentioned his price target is around $35,000 before any incentives.
  • Re: Gigafactory, Tesla will pay a little more than $2 billion, Panasonic will pay a little under $2 billion and other partners will contribute the rest. Musk is “absolutely certain” Tesla can reduce the cost of its batteries by 30%. 
  • Speaking of extrapolating key learnings from Space X: "I think eventually we'll be investigating some advanced alloys [to use for Tesla] that don't currently exist."
  • Musk hints at a future factory in Europe, a factory in China, one close to the east coast of the US in the long term. When asked, Musk explains that Michigan isn't out of the question, but he jokes that the state should ease its dealership franchise policy if it wants to play ball.
  • Posted in Model S, Tesla, tesla news



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