Tesla Motors’ billionaire chief executive Elon Musk walked into the enemy territory of Detroit this week with the electric-car maker quickly losing charge. Chevrolet’s all-electric Bolt, which some called a “Tesla killer, ” promised a mass-market rollout matching what Tesla’s future cars would offer and cost. And, analysts warn, record-low gas prices threatened to deflate the electric-car market altogether.
But in his first public appearance in Motor City in two years, the face of America’s electric-car movement doubled down on his promise to revolutionize the auto industry, pledging to make millions of electric-cars a year by 2025 — up from goals of about 33, 000 last year. And about all those high-powered rivals at the door? They should, he said, invest even more toward electric cars. In other words: Bring it on.
Musk has long criticized his compatriots in the auto world for their sluggishness in developing battery-powered cars en masse. That criticism, and many others, have made Musk the man the auto establishment loves to hate, the ultimate outsider in a car-making capital of insiders who think he’s overhyped or hate his guts.
Now that automakers are starting to push back with designs that could give Tesla a run for its money, the South African-born firebrand isn’t backing down. In fact, Musk is chalking it up as a new victory for his mission to accelerate the advent of electric cars and, as he said, “make a difference in the world.”
“It’s sort of counterintuitive, because, why do we want all these competitors?” said Musk, 43, during a Tuesday appearance at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. But he reiterated the real environmental benefits will only happen “if the big car companies make risky decisions to make electric vehicles. I hope they do. We’ll try to be as helpful as we can.”
Musk became the man to watch for having built the first new American automaker in years from the ground up. No executive at the North American International Auto Show this week in Detroit won as intense a spotlight, or polarized as many, as Musk — even though Tesla remains a relatively small player in the auto world, with only one car for sale and other models hit by long delays. (“I do have an issue with punctuality, ” he said.)
You might also like:
Revenge of the Electric Car
Electric Cars: Under the hood of a fantastic future for green cars and transport: Understand electric cars, keep more $$$ in your pocket, and make the planet green doing so.
eBooks (NextGen Publishing)