Alison van Diggelen from the Computer History Museum interviews Elon Musk of Tesla Motors. Musk reminisces and explains his trajectory from Paypal to SpaceX and finally Tesla Motors.
Elon is being led through the obligatory childhood memory where he obliges with a rebellious story of how he “broke the rules” at 6. At 12 he becomes an entrepreneur by creating Commodore computer video games, all the way to Paypal, SpaceX and finally Tesla Motors.
Elon Loves Electric Cars. Elon explains how electric cars have always fascinated him and how he moved to Silicon Valley to work on electric cars. He talks about his love of space exploration and the expenses associated with the conclusion that rockets should not be that expensive and reusable.
Elon, AC Propulsion & Tesla Motors. What is a good EV story without mentioning: “Who Killed The Electric Car?” (http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/) and GM’s notorious EV-1. At the time GM was talking about its EV-1 and Toyota its original RAV4 EV. He shows his trademark zap, when he asks: “… customers holding a candlelight vigil for the demise of their product, particularly a GM product, what more of a wake up call do you need?” He mentions JB Straubel and his lunch in 2003 and the tzero AC Propulsion, the grandfather of all modern electric cars. Strangely enough, Musk never mentions the “other” founder of Tesla, Martin Eberhard although he hints saying: “Another guys” and adding the word drama.
Musk talks about solar being the most interesting alternative energy. Musk walks a fine line talking about governments, regulation and business decisions. Careful not to ruffle the feathers of the past administration that lent Tesla money, he argues that sometimes regulations impede on innovation. For instance, the Department of transportation (DoT) imposed Tesla to display information in the Model S the way “people expects it”. He even went to the Secretary of Transportation to change certain things but says nothing changes. The message to the Obama administration would be to get rid of subsidies and tax carbon production.
It’s strange to see the publicly sometimes loud Elon Musk almost uneasy with Alison. Alison does her best to put him at ease but clearly Musk seems uncomfortable through the first part of the interview. Musk stutters, stumbles and seems to have a hard time striking a stance between being funny and showing his unique visionary abilities without looking pedantic. Here is the hour and fifteen minute interview. If you are only interested in the Tesla part, skip to slightly after the middle.
What can be said about Elon Musk that hasn’t already said? Bold, visionary, sometimes should keep his mouth shut? No matter how you look at it, Musk could have retired on an off-the-map island but instead chose to pursue his entrepreneurial DNA. We can be thankful today when we see the recent results with the SpaceX capsule making its first successful flight tests and the Model S now available.