It was a big weekend for Elon Musk Saying Stuff in the US.
He did this in both an upbeat video chat with a YouTuber, and in a “deeply emotional” New York Times interview, the latter of which was credited with a 9 per cent drop in the share price of the electric vehicle and battery maker at close of trade on Friday.
But it was in the interview with with YouTuber Marques Brownlee that Musk casually dropped the suggestion that it might take his company “maybe” three years to start turning out a truly low-cost electric vehicle.
“(Tesla is) really focused on making cars more affordable, which is really tough,” he told Brownlee. “In order to make cars more affordable, you need high volume and economies of scale.
“I think in order for us to get up to…a $US25,000 car, that’s something we can do,” he said. “But if we work really hard I think maybe we can do that in about three years.
“With each successive design iteration, you can add more things, you can figure out better ways to produce it, so it gets better and cheaper,” Musk said. With “natural progression of any new technology, it takes multiple versions and large volume to make it more affordable.”
The comments come after what have been a tumultuous few months for both Musk and the company, capped off in the first week of August with his Tweet of plans to take Tesla private, which sent investors into a frenzy and lit a fire under the stock before it was suspended from trade.
And just days before that, the company’s shares made their biggest one-day jump in nearly five years, after a second quarter results call that featured apologies and promises – of a sustained production rate of 7,000 cars a week and a “sustainably profitable” business from Q3 onwards.
Meanwhile, Tesla is only just starting to make headway on delivering the massive number of Model 3 cars – currently its lowest-cost EV – that are on pre-order all around the globe. And it still has its Model Y, Tesla Pickup, Tesla Semi to get into production.
In short, there is a lot going on. And, according to the New York Times interview, it’s all taking its toll on Musk.
“There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days — days when I didn’t go outside,” he told the paper. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.
“…I thought the worst of it was over — I thought it was,” he said. “The worst is over from a Tesla operational standpoint.” He continued: “But from a personal pain standpoint, the worst is yet to come.”
Australia is still yet to see any deliveries of customer orders of the Model 3, but according to company data, total sales of Tesla EVs in Australia was 1,410 in calendar 2017 – a combination of Model S and Model X – a near three-fold increase from 505 in 2016.