Porsche committed to making its first all-electric vehicle, taking on Tesla Motors Inc. with a model that’s set to accelerate faster than the German company’s 911 sports car and recharge in 15 minutes.
Porsche green-lighted a 1 billion-euro ($1.09 billion) project to produce the battery-powered sports car, which will be manufactured near division headquarters in Stuttgart and create 1,000 jobs, the Volkswagen AG unit said Friday in a statement. The model, based on the low-slung Mission E concept unveiled in September at the Frankfurt auto show, will enter showrooms at the end of the decade, it said.
“With Mission E, we are making a clear statement about the future of the brand,” Chairman Wolfgang Porsche said in the statement. “Even in a greatly changing motoring world, Porsche will maintain its front-row position with this fascinating sports car.”
The step is part of efforts by Volkswagen, Europe’s largest automaker, to move beyond a scandal over rigged car-emissions tests. Chief Executive Officer Matthias Mueller, who ran Porsche until late September, has vowed to accelerate and widen development of electric cars amid a reorganization that delegates more decision-making to the Volkswagen group’s brands and regional units.
Porsche caused a stir at the Frankfurt show with the four- seat Mission E electric sports-car concept, whose acceleration to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in less than 3.5 seconds beats the 911’s 4.2 seconds to reach that speed. The new electric vehicle will complement a lineup comprising the 911, the smaller Cayman sports car, the Boxster roadster, the four- door Panamera coupe and the Cayenne and Macan sport utility vehicles. Porsche’s high-performance 918 Spyder has been sold out as production was limited to safeguard exclusivity.
The division is set to sell more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time this year, driven by demand for the $52,600 compact Macan. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, maker of the battery-powered Model S sedan and Model X SUV, is targeting 50,000 to 55,000 deliveries in 2015.
The 600-horsepower Mission E will be designed to drive more than 500 kilometers before needing a recharge, Porsche said. The battery can reach 80 percent of capacity in about 15 minutes, about half the time needed by Tesla’s Model S to recharge for a 270-kilometer driving range.
At the recent Frankfurt Auto Show, Ford Motor Co unveiled a new feature that drivers pre-set their car to go at or just above the speed limit. In-car cameras and software read and react to road signs, speeding the car up or slowing it down.
Active Speed Limiter is available on select models in Europe, but not, ironically, in the United States, Ford’s home country, where road signs come in different shapes and sizes, and are often obscured by shrubbery.
So it goes on the road to the self-driving, or autonomous, car – a journey of, well, stops and starts that most experts say will take a couple decades to complete.
Meantime, advances in “semi-autonomy” – features that help handle tricky or tiresome driving situations but still require a driver’s oversight – have sparked a high-tech automotive arms race, with car companies vying to launch the most advanced features.
Automakers hope semi-autonomous features will, over time, help drivers and regulators get over fears of riding in vehicles that accelerate, steer and stop themselves, making potentially life-or-death judgments.
Shorter term, car companies want these features to make driving more convenient – and cars more profitable.
“People like features that make driving easier, safer and more fun,” says Joseph Vitale Jr., who heads global automotive consulting for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. “The question is what customers will pay for them.”
Ford’s Active Speed Limiter comes at 560 euros ($602.78), and it’s too soon to tell how popular it will be.
Among the biggest winners for now are the companies that produce electronic sensors, cameras and software that make self-driving features possible.
The growing list includes the high-tech units of traditional automotive suppliers such as Germany’s Continental AG, Israel’s Mobileye Vision Technologies, and consumer-technology giants Google, Apple, Samsung Electronics Co, Sony Corp and more.
At Silicon Valley’s Nvidia Corp, for example, video games remain the biggest market, but automotive revenue is the fastest-growing segment.
“We’re in well over 8 million cars on the road today and will be in more than 30 million in the next three to four years,” says Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia’s president and CEO. “Future cars will sense and understand the world moving around them.”
“DOING CRAZY THINGS”
A big step in that direction was the traffic-jam assistance feature on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Now available on more Mercedes models, the Intelligent Drive system allows the car to drive itself at low speeds in traffic jams, freeing the driver from constant braking.
BMW, Honda Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co and others have or will soon introduce similar features.
Silicon Valley’s Tesla Motors recently broke new ground by downloading “autopilot” features to its newer models, just as software updates are downloaded to smartphones and tablets. Autopilot basically drives the car itself, but Tesla warns drivers not to relinquish control entirely.
On a recent investor call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had seen some “fairly crazy videos on YouTube” of Tesla owners driving hands-free with autopilot, and added: “This is not good. We will be putting some additional constraints on when autopilot can be activated, to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.”
BELLS AND WHISTLES
For consumers, getting their first car with semi-automated features can be both exciting and daunting, especially those who haven’t bought a new car in years.
“I had no idea this sort of thing was out there,” says Mark Goldsmith, a Tokyo-area TV news writer. “I’d been driving a 15-year-old Jeep, which only had cruise control that you constantly had to adjust, so all these new features are a novelty.”
Goldsmith recently traded the Jeep for a 2015 Volvo [GEELY.UL] with a mouthful of a name – the V40 T5 R-design – and a handful of semi-automated driving features.
Those include adaptive cruise control, distance warning, blind-spot information system, “city safety,” driver alert system, lane-keeping aid, road-sign information, anti-skid system and parking assist. Combined they add close to $1,000 to the car’s total price of nearly $31,000.
While Goldsmith says he has yet to test all the automated features, he says the suite of functions was “definitely” a factor that helped sell he and his wife on the car.
But to other drivers, like Kirstin Houser, a communications and events manager in Frankfurt, mastering how to use all the buttons, switches and toggles to activate the automated drive functions on her family car, a 2015 Mercedes E-Klasse Kombi, was a time-consuming process which required “relearn(ing) how to drive”.
“There are just too many bells and whistles on the steering column, either to push, pull, scroll, hold down, release, etc. By the time I remember which one to use, there’s already a row of cars behind me honking to park my car,” she said.
“Safe driving, and also understanding the general mechanics of a car, are so engrained in the way we drive that it’s hard to separate that and allow our car to make those judgments.”
Ford recently added automated straight-in, “perpendicular” parking on some models. While developing the feature, company engineers found that cars could self-park in places so tight that drivers couldn’t pull out of them. They reworked the software to add pull-out capability to Active Park Assist, which is priced at $395 in America and 350 euros in Europe.
BMW’s new flagship 7 Series sedan has a remote self-parking feature that allows the car to park itself with nobody inside. Drivers stop, hop out, push a button on the key fob, and the car takes over.
Google is holding discussions with at least half a dozen car companies with aims of launching its self-driving car system by 2020. That same year, Japan’s Big Three – Toyota, Nissan Motor Co and Honda – are targeting the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games to launch and showcase cars that will largely handle themselves in city traffic, but not entirely.
“We maintain our expectation that drivers will remain in control of their cars in 2020,” Moritaka Yoshida, Toyota’s chief safety technology officer, said recently at a demonstration of the company’s latest automated driving technology.
Nonetheless, the company’s Lexus GS450 SX models equipped with cameras, radar and laser sensors changed lanes and merged smoothly in heavy traffic, without help from the driver.
The 2020 Olympics could become a venue for automotive as well as athletic competition, and not just among traditional car companies.
Tokyo-based Robot Taxi plans to bypass semi-autonomy and deploy 3,000 self-driving taxis that athletes, VIPs and tourists can summon by a smartphone app to ferry to and from venues.
“It’s not about the car,” the company’s chairman Hisashi Taniguchi told Reuters. “We’re going to generate revenue from supplying self-driving vehicles as a service, and collecting user fees. It’s all about the app, and how many people use it.”
($1 = 0.9290 euros)($1 = 122.9700 yen)
Written by Naomi Tajitsu and Paul Ingrassia of Reuters
(Bloomberg) — Less than a decade after its first rocket launch, Elon Musk’s SpaceX finds itself in an unfamiliar position.
The upstart venture is the incumbent vying to win the bulk of a $3.5 billion U.S. contract renewal while facing rivals that include Boeing Co., whose spaceflight roots date to the 1950s. At stake: a seven-year agreement to haul supplies and experiments to the International Space Station.
SpaceX is pushing the only made-in-the-USA entry in a four- way derby with Boeing, Orbital ATK Inc. and Sierra Nevada Corp., each of which relies to some extent on rockets with Russian engines. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will award the work as soon as Thursday as it juggles support for commercial missions while Congress clamors to end U.S. dependence on the imported motors.
“This bodes well for SpaceX because they’re the only company I can see that’s completely independent of Russia,” said Marco Caceres, director for space studies at consultant Teal Group.
NASA split the initial $3.6 billion cargo-flight contract between SpaceX and Orbital in 2008, two years after Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. sent its first rocket aloft. The win helped establish SpaceX as a competitor to United Launch Alliance, the Boeing-Lockheed Martin Corp. rocket venture whose work includes military missions.
“If NASA wants to maintain or expand the work done on the space station, they need supplies, people and a way to support all the research work up there,” said Mark Sirangelo, who leads Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems business.
SpaceX and Orbital each have a setback on their commercial- cargo records. An October 2014 explosion just after liftoff destroyed an Orbital Antares rocket laden with space station cargo. In June, a SpaceX Falcon 9 blew up en route to the orbiting lab.
The station’s reliance on Russian and Japanese spacecraft while the U.S. craft have been grounded highlights the “immediate and urgent need for appropriate oversight and corrective action,” Republican Senators Cory Gardner of Colorado and David Vitter of Louisiana said in a Sept. 1 letter urging the Government Accountability Office to review NASA’s contracted launch services and capsules.
Increased political scrutiny may provide an incentive to NASA to add more contractors to provide “back-up options” and avoid protests by losing bidders, said Nick Taborek, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence.
Unless NASA can gain additional funding from Congress, bringing in new entrants would probably mean less money for the current cargo haulers. “There’s certainly a good chance the pool of bidders will be expanding, which means less revenue for Orbital and SpaceX,” Taborek said by phone.
Expanding the pool of contractors is critical, Sierra Nevada’s Sirangelo said, because Japan is preparing to wind down its cargo missions to the station after European ended its flights. NASA would “have to do more flights, or add more participants or choose a vehicle like ours that would take more cargo up,” he said.
Boeing’s entrant is a reusable cargo version of the Starliner capsule being developed for manned NASA orbital missions later this decade. It would be carried by a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. “NASA can take advantage of all the work and taxpayer dollars spent for the Commercial Crew program and re-use it for cargo,” Boeing spokeswoman Kelly Kaplan said by e-mail.
Sierra Nevada proposes a freighter variant of its Dream Chaser, a reusable orbiter that looks like a miniature cousin of the space shuttle and is designed to land on airport runways. It would have folding wings to ride inside the launch fairing atop an Atlas V or a rocket from Europe’s Arianespace SA.
SpaceX and Orbital declined to discuss their cargo proposals. NASA had no comment this week about details of the next commercial-resupply contract.
Caceres, the space consultant, isn’t convinced that adding more contractors will solve NASA’s reliability qualms because the Atlas V is powered by Russian-made RD-180 engines — a focal point of congressional debate over import limits.
“I don’t know that three companies is better than two, if two out of the three are reliant on the same vehicle,” Caceres said. Like Boeing and Sierra Nevada, Orbital also depends on Russian engines. It used them in the Antares rocket that blew up, plans to deploy a different Russian model on a new Antares, and will put its Cygnus capsule on an Atlas V next month to resume space-station flights.
The initial supply contract proved a boon for SpaceX, which was founded in 2002 by Musk — a PayPal Inc. co-founder — a year before he created his signature automaker, Tesla Motors Inc. SpaceX has completed six missions under the NASA award to Orbital’s two, and also plans to restart commercial flights in December.
Gauging the full effect of NASA’s privatization of cargo trips may take years, because follow-on offerings like space tourism aren’t quite ready yet, said Micah Walter-Range, director of research and analysis with the Space Foundation.
“It has been good to keep a lot of that money in the country rather than sending it off to Russia,” Walter-Range said. Without NASA’s resupply program, “that is what we would be doing.”
Tesla (TSLA) is giving those who own a Model S or Model X the ability to take their hands off the wheel and let their vehicle take control when driving in certain conditions.
The company is updating the software on thousands of these models through a new system called Tesla Autopilot. The technology, which will be rolled out Thursday, allows those vehicles to control steering, speed, braking and lane changing.
“I think this is going to be quite a profound experience for people when they do it,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday. “We’ve been testing it for over a year, so we’ve [gotten] quite used to it. But I’ve noticed that when I put friends of mine in the car, and they see the car drive, they are blown away. So it’s really quite an interesting, new experience,”
Here’s how it works: The system incorporates information from 12 ultrasonic sensors that are monitoring traffic all around the vehicle.
In addition, a camera in the front windshield and long-distance radar in the front grille provide a constant “reading” of the road and what lies ahead.
All of that information is combined with the GPS data streaming into the vehicle, which allows the autopilot system to control whether the Tesla Model S or X can change lanes, and whether it should slow down or turn when the road is curving.
The automaker is careful to point out that the current version of Tesla Autopilot requires the driver to occasionally hold the steering wheel, as one way to keep the driver engaged. There are also visual prompts in the vehicle’s instrument panel, and audio chimes to alert drivers when the system is active or they need to take control.
In announcing the rollout, Musk reinforced the need for early users to be cautious while using the technology.
“It’s auto-pilot version one. We still think of it sort of as public beta. So we want people to be quite careful at first,” he said.
Right now, only those Tesla models built since September 2014 have the required hardware that enables them to incorporate the autopilot software. Those buyers who paid $2,500 for the Tesla technology package will get the autopilot software automatically.
Tesla Autopilot currently has four functions.
Autosteer, which keeps Tesla vehicles in their lanes and manages their speed;
Auto lane change, which controls the vehicle changing lanes when it’s safe to do so;
Autopark, which allows Tesla owners to parallel park without having to touch the steering wheel; and
Side-collision warning, which alerts drivers when the system detects other cars or obstacles that are too close to the side of their Model S or X.
Tesla is not the only automaker or technology company that has been developing partial autonomous-drive technology. Several automakers plan to introduce similar features in their vehicles over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile, many automakers already have technology in their vehicles that enables automated parking, or that alerts vehicles to the risk of side collisions when changing lanes.
Tesla Autopilot has been in development for more than a year. A spokesperson for the automaker said the company has been regularly updating the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other regulators about how Tesla Autopilot will work when used in everyday, real-world driving.
Tesla Motors shares slid 10% in midday trading after Consumer Reportsmagazine rated its Model S “worse than average” for predicted reliability.
The knock on Tesla’s reputation comes despite Tesla’s glowing reviews for two versions of the Model S that it has bought for testing. Most recently, the magazine called the performance version the best car it has ever tested.
But predicted reliability is a new sore spot for the electric car. The magazine says the 1,400 owners who answered their annual predicted reliability survey complained about problems related to drivetrain, power equipment, charging equipment, center console, and body and sunroof squeaks, rattles, and leaks.
On the basis of all those issues comes the magazine’s worst predicted reliability rating.
Investors reacted by dropping the stock 10.3% at midday to $204.58, down $23.52.
Consumer Reports‘ ratings are among the most closely watched in the auto industry because of its reputation for independence. It says the 2015 Annual Auto Reliability Survey takes into account data from more than 740,000 vehicles.
Apple may be the most profitable company in the world, but not even that distinction is enough for it to escape the contempt of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
In an interview with German newspaper Handlesblatt, Musk was disdainful of Apple’s reported efforts to build an electric car, to hit the market by 2019. When the interviewer asked whether Musk was worried about the fact that Apple had hired some of Tesla’s “most important engineers,” Musk shot back: “Important engineers? They have hired people we’ve fired. We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple. I’m not kidding.”
When asked whether he takes the competition seriously, Musk twisted the knife, saying:
Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch? (laughs) No, seriously: It’s good that Apple is moving and investing in this direction. But cars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches. You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car. But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.
The Tesla Model X was fully revealed by Elon Musk on Tuesday with the entrepreneur disclosing for the first time that a button on the dashboard would allow you to protect yourself from airborne bacteria, viruses and pollution.
During the presentation at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, Musk said that customers would be presented with a button — represented by the international symbol for biological hazard — on the dashboard, which would allow them to activate medical grade air filters.
According to Tesla, the medical grade HEPA filter will “strip outside air of pollen, bacteria, viruses and pollution before circulating it into the cabin.” Besides modes to circulate outside air or re-circulate inside air, a third “bioweapon defense mode” will create positive pressure inside the cabin to protect occupants. Musk said the filter will give customers “hospital level air quality” and would get rid of toxins and biological weapons as well. The HEPA filters are up to 10 times the size of filters found in other cars.
On Tuesday, more than a year after his initial deadline, Musk handed over the first Model X luxury electric SUVs to customers. The car is significantly more expensive than the original Model S, with prices starting from $132,000. One of the most talked about features of the new Model X are the “falcon wing” rear doors that mimic the iconic doors of the DeLorean, immortalized in the “Back to the Future” movies. Tesla said that due to their double-hinged design, they can open in as little as 12 inches of space, thanks to ultrasonic sensors, and take around six seconds to open fully.
The futuristic looking Tesla Model X features 360-degree sonar, forward-facing cameras and the iconic falcon wing rear doors. Tesla
Indeed the Model X is crammed fully with technology, including forward-looking cameras, radar and a 360-degree sonar, which will enable the company to roll out its semi-autonomous technology called AutoPilot that will bring automatic steering, accelerating and braking on motorways as well as a self-park feature — but only in countries that have updated their road laws to allow it.
The Model X promises a top speed of 155 mph and will go from zero to 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. In terms of range, the 90 kWh battery pack will allow 250 miles on a single charge.
“Consumers have been buying SUVs in droves over the last couple years, yet there are very few electric vehicles in SUV form,” said Akshay Anand, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “The Model X aims to fill that need, all with a brand that consumers seem to aspire to.”
Written by David Gilbert of International Business Times
The LAPD’s fleet of patrol cars is getting quite an upgrade.
The Los Angeles police department has been loaned a Tesla (TSLA) Model S P85D, the all-wheel drive car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in just over 3 seconds. The starting price for the car is normally $105,000.
The department is also being loaned a BMW i3, a plug-in electric version of that German luxury car that starts at $42,400.
The city said the two high-end electric police cars will be used for testing and research by LAPD technical experts to determine how electric cars can support their future needs.
The city says it plans to lease 160 pure electric vehicles of different makes and models, which will make it the nation’s largest fleet of electric vehicles. It declined to say which vehicles it will purchase. The announcement came ahead of the U.S.-China climate leaders summit, which will be held in the city starting Tuesday.
“Today, we take another step toward becoming the most sustainable city in America,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The electric vehicles will be used by a variety of departments beyond police, including the fire department, general services, water and power. The city will also get 128 plug-in hybrid vehicles which can run on electric batteries or gasoline.
Tesla Motors Inc., the smallest publicly held U.S. automaker, hands over the first of its Model X sport utility vehicles Tuesday evening amid growing scrutiny of Volkswagen AG, one of the world’s biggest car companies, after the admission that it cheated on emissions tests.
Hybrid and electric cars have struggled to gain traction with mainstream consumers amid lower gasoline prices. But Tesla — which promotes its Model S with the line “Zero Emissions. Zero Compromises.” — may see a bounce from the growing “dieselgate” scandal that has engulfed VW and cast a shadow on the German auto industry.
The all-electric Model X, the second car in Tesla’s lineup after the Model S sedan, is crucial to the Palo Alto, California-based company’s efforts to both scale its manufacturing and broaden its appeal. After years of delays, the question now is if Tesla, run by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, can ramp up production of the X fast enough to meet its lowered sales target for 2015. Much of Tesla’s sales are back- weighted to the fourth quarter, raising the stakes for a smooth — and steep — production increase.
“We’ll see if Tesla can supply enough Model Xs fast enough to satisfy the waiting list,” Jack Nerad, executive market analyst at KBB.com, said in an e-mail.
The Model X will compete for customers with premium luxury SUVs that are largely made by German automakers, including the Audi Q7, the BMW X5 and the Porsche Cayenne. While it is only certain diesel models made by Volkswagen that are under investigation in the emissions-cheating scandal, Peter Altmaier, chief of staff to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, challenged the nation’s carmakers to prove that their country remains a leader in the auto industry by beating Tesla in the nascent electric-car market.
“I know Elon Musk, I met him last year, he’s an impressive guy and his Tesla car is an impressive car,” Altmaier said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Berlin. “I would be very pleased if the German carmakers would be able to produce an e- car that’s better and cheaper than Elon Musk’s car.”
Germany has been a tough market for Tesla to crack, in part because the big German automakers — BMW, Mercedes-Benz and VW – – compete mightily with each other for market share.
Though VW is the focus of investigations, regulators in Europe and the U.S. are increasingly looking at the emissions of other automakers’ vehicles, with focus on discrepancies between lab tests and on-road results.
“The question on a lot of minds is: Are any other automakers cheating on emissions, or ‘optimizing’ for the best emissions results?” said Brian A. Johnson, an analyst with Barclays, in an interview Monday. “Do European consumers go on strike against diesel?”
Musk unveiled the Model X in February 2012 at a splashy Los Angeles event featuring California Governor Jerry Brown, with production planned for 2013. Three and a half years later, the first Xs — a limited-edition Founders Series that typically goes to board members and close friends of the company — will be handed over Sept. 29 at a high-profile evening event in Fremont, California, where Tesla has its factory.
Tesla has yet to release detailed specs on the car, but some information and images have been widely circulated online by customers who put down $40,000 deposits to reserve the Signature Series, the limited edition vehicle that comes after the Founders version.
The all-wheel-drive X seats either six or seven passengers. In recent days, images of a six-seat Model X — with two second- row seats instead of three — have appeared in the online configurator. Interior volume is a big issue for potential Model X customers, who want to know if they can fit bikes, skis and other recreational equipment easily into the vehicle. The third- row seats fold flat, according to Tesla’s website.
The car has what it calls “falcon wing” doors that open vertically and a 90 kilowatt-hour battery that is projected to have a range of roughly 250 miles (402 kilometers) per charge. Musk tweeted that with the same options, the Model X will cost $5,000 more than the S due to its greater size. The S starts at $75,000. Tesla designed its first sport utility vehicle in part to appeal to female drivers, as women buy more than half of the small SUVs in the U.S., according to J.D. Power & Associates.
Tesla aims to deliver 50,000 to 55,000 vehicles this year, compared with a previous target of 55,000 — partly owing to production snags with the Model X’s complex middle-row seats. Tesla delivered 21,577 vehicles in the first half of the year, which means it must deliver 28,423 vehicles in the second half to meet the lower end of its guidance.
“The VW scandal highlights that the auto industry is under a lot of pressure to comply with tightening emissions standards and fuel-economy laws, and with an internal combustion engine, it’s difficult to conform without realizing a corresponding trade-off in vehicle performance,” said Andrea James, an analyst with Dougherty & Co. “Electric vehicles, and hence Tesla, fall outside of this conundrum.”
Just a few days before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board revealed that VW had admitted to deceiving the emissions tests, VW announced at the Frankfurt auto show that it will roll out 20 new electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2020, including the Porsche Mission E and the Audi e-tron quattro.
“Given the investigation timeline, it is highly likely that VW knew about the coming controversy when it made the EV and plug-in hybrid announcement,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance in a research note to clients Sept. 22. “The scandal could push VW more strongly towards electrification as it looks to improve its public image and meet increasingly stringent fuel economy standards.”
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 competitors revving up electric car plans during an interview 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 to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport, to have there 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.