Live ging Tech Renaissance Man Elon Musk at D11 Liz Gannes D11 AllThingsD

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Tech Renaissance Man Elon Talks Cars, Spaceships and at D11

May 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm PT


Musk dreams big. It s not to get taken along for the ride it s a soon-to-launch cross-country Supercharger that allows Tesla to cross from Los Angeles to New an in-the-works reusable rocket will help pioneer the of Mars, or a hypothetical replacement for rail called the Hyperloop.

s the liveblog:

Elon Musk is CEO and product architect of Tesla He s founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX. Back in the he helped start PayPal. And in his time, he s chairman of the just-IPOed solar company SolarCity.

He s of a techie superhero.

Tonight, is the evening attraction at D11 . in conversation Walt Mossberg and Kara about launching reusable persevering through years of car setbacks, Tesla s recent as a stock market darling, the of clean energy, pesky who question his cars performance in the and all sorts of other things.

You re involved in several cutting-edge let s start with the electric Why are you in that business and do you think it can be

Musk: The reason for Tesla is not I wanted to get a return on investment. we ve got quite a high market so it may seem obviously a good to have done, but for many people regarded this as or insane or both.

Starting a new company would have like falling off a log. But carmakers were not doing it General Motors recalled its took them to a junkyard and them while people a candlelight vigil (as depicted in Who the Electric Car ).

There s a lesson: If hold a candlelight vigil, you shouldn t cancel your

The reason for Tesla was to create a long-range electric car that would buy.

Kara: But why the car?

Musk: I think it s that we transition to sustainable Eventually we ll face extremely gasoline costs and the economy grind to a halt if we don t.

If you take the source fuel and burn it at the plant you get two to three times than in the car, because you re not by mass and volume, and you can reuse the fuel.

And we have to find sustainable of electricity anyways so the obvious of transport is electric.

Kara: But is crazy and difficult.

Musk: If I had a for every time someone up Delorean or Tucker I wouldn t needed to IPO.

Personally, I t think I could be incrementally in the Internet arena, so I looked to and interplanetary exploration.

Walt: about the appeal and cost of cars.

Musk: People of electric cars as a subsidy, but it s less than gasoline If you price in environmental costs, it s higher. It s like half a dollars.

(I m not sure he quite this argument well but he basically says people be buying way more electric if they were properly

Today, credits for electric for air pollution apply to just 40 percent of the U.S. population.

There are a lot of Tesla owners in the audience, probably a large of your customer base.

Thank you! And thanks to Tony Hsieh of Zappos who has more than anybody.

But how do you make this mainstream?

When will there be a Tesla?

Musk: Probably to five years. Every new needs three or so iterations to get to the market. Remember the cellphone Wall Street ? It was expensive and

And now you can have a supercomputer in your for 100 bucks.

Also, the car will be 20 percent smaller than the S, and an order of magnitude bigger

Walt: And then when Tesla be profitable without

Musk: By the end of this year. We re 25 percent gross margins of credits. Well, including tax credits, but not subsidies.

Kara: Why t other car companies racing to up with you?

Musk: I our first-quarter results will They had written off the Tesla as a niche product for techno-geeks shout-out to the audience) but we ve moved that. After the Roadster, so people called bullshit on the S it was ridiculous, but then we brought it to

Then they said you ll make a profit, and then we did So I hope they will there is a trend here.

We re making drive trains for and Toyota. The big challenge is to convince that it s more than a product, that electric should be a mainstream item.

Walt: What about about charging stations and

Musk: We re planning to announce about that tomorrow.

Kara and the crowd egg him on to announce it

Musk: We have something called the Supercharger. Okay, I as well let the cat out of the bag. So the Supercharger we developed because regular is slow and not effective for long-distance

But when people buy a car they re a sense of freedom that can go wherever they want and not fettered.

The announcement: There s to be a dramatic acceleration of the Supercharging It ll be tripled. We ll put the map live tomorrow.

back and forth about reviews and accurate reviews of products, in reference to the NYT review.)

You ll be to drive from LA to New York using the Supercharger network.

We ll be increasing the density and the scope of the

Walt: Even if you only your car commuting to work, you that sense of freedom you could go further if you wanted to or had to.

Since Tesla software automatically, the maps will be automatically in the car and you ll be rerouted to a Supercharger wherever you are.

Kara: But about the NYT review, what was the with your response?

Well, I actually thought my response for some time. But we to see a decrease in cars sold in region after the review. The really played to people s about electric cars they ll run out, and that don t work out in the cold.

And that s not Norway is our largest market. The biggest purchaser of Tesla is an ophthalmologist who lives above the Circle.

Walt: Part of a product is opinion, but part of is facts and specs. People a right to their opinion.

The datalogs showed too many It lacked credibility.

If we didn t out against it, that article have lived forever, and would have gotten the impression of the car. Ultimately the NYT editor agreed the article was but didn t think it was intentional, but I don t there s any way it was not intentional.

Walt: On to space. What is ultimate goal with

Musk: The goal is to improve technology and space technology we can send people to Mars and life on Mars. I agree is an unlikely outcome, but if we don t keep technology every year, we won t get

(Some banter about H. W. Bush wanting to go to Mars in the day but it would have cost a dollars.)

Kara: Is this sort of Star Trek for you? What was the impetus?

we spread Earth to other or we risk going extinct. An event is inevitable and we re increasingly ourselves in.

We want to have a where humanity is exploring the and where what you see in the movies true.

Walt: Are you looking warp drive?

Musk: You can t exceed the speed of light, but it s possible to warp space such that space is

Walt: Is that in the fourth or next year?


Musk: Warp may not come to but if we have a base on Mars, gives us the chance of achieving like warp drive.

But listen, Scotty and Spock, let s about now.

(Banter how the new Star Trek is actually good.)

Musk: The challenge now is In order to have a breakthrough you to have a fully reusable We re hopeful to have it in the first in the next couple years and s three-quarters of the cost.

Walt: are the dangers of space?

Musk: could possibly go wrong?


We re not violating any laws of It s difficult but achievable. If you look at planets, Mercury s too close to the Venus is still pretty and then Mars is on the other and colder than Earth, but it gets above room on Earth on a hot day in the summer. So we could our greenhouse gases

Walt: We bring all the GM cars there!

Mars is a fixer-upper of a planet, but we make it work. (Great

Kara: So if you died on impact, it d be it.

Musk: All things considered, if you die anywhere, it d be kind of cool to die on The driver is that the future has a chance of being better the present. I think it would be so better not to be confined to Earth.

Kara: But SpaceX is also a

Musk: Yes, we gotta pay the We re contracting privately and bringing back and forth from the Station for NASA.

The cost of the in the rocket is only .3 percent of the Think about a commercial you don t want to buy a new plane every you book a flight.

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Kara: You re a guy. Who are your heroes?

Obviously Tesla. I like all the people you could imagine. Edison, which some are surprised by, given that I run a called Tesla. Einstein, Darwin.

Walt: So more than IT era.

Musk: No, I anyone who has worked hard to a great thing. Steve Bill Gates, Larry

Walt: And probably many, journalists.

Musk: I have against journalists I m here!

Are you a car guy?

Musk: I don t talk this much, but I do actually own a a 67 Series 1 E-Type Jag.

about a TV show called Valley Goldrush filmed in when Musk was buying a

Walt and Kara: What do you about photosharing and Vine given what you re doing?

I actually am not dismissive of things photosharing apps. There s a lot of that provide a small of value to a lot of people and that it up in some way. Sharing friends and family is great; if puts a high value on a so be it.

What I do think would be is if some of those people go to other arenas to use their

He doesn t want credit for

Also, he wasn t sure coming to the conference because he t actually do all that much s digital. Suggests we change the from All Things Digital to All

Audience question: Can you talk the Hyperloop?

Musk: I can t talk that quite yet but it ll be big news. s a Tesla announcement around 20 at some point after will be a good time to about it. For those that t aware, the basic idea is there be a better way to travel from LA to San Francisco than rail.

The high-speed rail that s proposed will be the slowest train in the world and the most and it s a little depressing.

Even if I m about the economic assumptions the Hyperloop, it would be a really fun It s a cross between a Concorde and a gun and an air hockey table.

(Okay, not much more detail, but seem very intrigued.)

Q: about commercial spaceflight?

Through the work we re doing NASA, that will happen in two to three years.

Q: do you think about immigration and recruiting?

Musk: I think we have some form of policy where we can recruit top that go to our own universities. We should them stay here. respect to STEM in general, to the that there are exciting that s what brings in. The best example in history is the Apollo program.

I think it s important to have those that kids can read in school and aspire to.

Walt: happened with Mark s, which you joined and left?

Musk: I supported it but I think the methods that employed was a little too much of the realpolitik. I think we shouldn t into the cynicism of politics, we fight the cynicism. And if we don t, we ll get the political we deserve.

Q: What about car companies and oil companies?

Musk: I they join in, and Tesla with them well, and we to continue to be around. We re doing our to convince them to join.

As for the oil the tricky thing is the way the system is set up, we have this tragedy of the with the CO2 emissions and the atmosphere, it s to ask the CEO of an oil company to act against their interest. In fact, if they do, might get fired by their The right thing to do is to change the of the game so they change behavior, which is why I m a big believer in the tax.

I have a hard condemning oil and gas companies because the system incents them to do bad

People may think taxes a negative effect on the economy, but it doesn t. We don t need to change the of money raised to run the federal we just need to change it comes from.

(He recommends a book called Merchants of for more on this line of

Q: Even without a reusable you ve reduced the cost to orbit incremental improvement. When did you that opportunity existed, and are parallel opportunities in other that you re not chasing?

Musk: I started SpaceX, I thought the likely outcome was that it fail. But what gave me a that we could make a breakthrough was looking at the cost of a I looked at what a rocket was of, the materials. And that was a remarkably number maybe 1 or 2 percent of rockets actually cost.

So people were doing silly in putting those together. So we were able to it for much less.

But I wasn t about reusability until years ago. Now I m fairly it s achievable but we have a long way to go.

Q: innovation will Tesla in terms of car service? What the dealership network be?

Musk: has been my main focus at for the last three or four We had some pretty nightmarish situations in the January-February timeframe, but have gotten better. We supposed to have three centers in LA, but we didn t have the for two of them, so we were operating at capacity.

I don t know if I have any insights, but we have to have good diagnostic tools and we an advantage with the car s intelligence so we can the car before it even comes in and we re a fleet of service loaners and service.

And that s a wrap.

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