Threats in Tesla's rearview mirror are closer than they appear, but Elon Musk isn’t flinching. He’s “ glad” for the competition. In fact, he wishes big car companies would put the pedal to the metal already.
“I’m glad to see these announcements of these other companies,” Musk said of the increasing number of auto industry competitors revving up electric car plans during an interview last week with the Danish newspaper Børsen. “I hope they move even faster than they announce.”
The visionary entrepreneur has all but begged traditional automakers to enter the battery-powered vehicle race for years now, from the pages of GQ to the heart of Motor City, and just about any time he commands the media spotlight, which is often.
Musk, currently overseas to cut the ribbon on Tesla’s first European assembly plant, recently noted that seven long years have passed since his Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup unveiled the Roadster, its inaugural luxury electric sports car. Now, in a warming world circled by an estimated 1.2 billion cars -- only about 2.5 percent of them electric, fuel-cell or battery electric -- the billionaire is cooling off on outright condemning the auto industry for being asleep at the sustainable wheel. His approach today seems more honey than vinegar.
When asked by Børsen how he feels about taking on auto and energy industry giants, Musk acknowledged that it’s challenging, yet pointed to how widely his car company has grown in spite of being a disruptive outsider. “It can be quite difficult at times,” he admitted. “The big car companies and the big energy companies have quite sharp elbows, so, at various times, they try to squash small companies like Tesla, but generally I think we have the popular support.”
The Børsen interviewer noted that some other high-end carmakers, specifically Porsche, are gaining traction. Musk responded by underscoring the “ideological motivation” behind why he launched Tesla Motors in 2003 in the first place: to stop human extinction by popularizing sustainable transportation. If all else fails, pack your SpaceX spacesuit, it’s Mars or bust.
“The reason that we’re doing Tesla is to try accelerate the advent of sustainable transport, to have their be more electric cars on the road,” Musk said, “and, to that end, we actually open-sourced all of our patents. Any e-car company can use our technology. It’s no problem. They don’t even have to pay a fee to us.”
Share and share alike, and eat your heart out, Apple. Musk welcomes the challenge, late in the game as it is. Without more electric cars from more competitors on the road, he fears for the future of our world and our species, that is if artificial intelligence doesn’t annihilate us first.