There has been a saying bandied around the financial outlets in recent years that if the Chinese economy sneezes – like it did over the last year – then the rest of the world catches a cold. Not to be outdone, Elon Musk dropped a hint recently that Tesla could do a hatchback and was immediately jettison up the ladder into the rarified position of being the world’s second richest man. All without the aid of his own personally designed space suit or reusable rockets.
It’s been a while since T&FME dropped in on Musk and in that time he has Zoom called, pressered and tweeted his way into the position of arguably the most important tech leader on and off the planet. And whatever scepticism he has outwardly shown regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and the efficacy of lockdowns, the lead designer and CEO enjoyed a pretty storming 2020 by anyone’s standards.
There were the successful tests and then trips by Space-X up to the ISS and then there was Tesla’s outlandish and lavish share price ahead of its formal entry as one of the top 500 companies listed on the Dow Jones with a market cap of half a trillion dollars. According to most analyst’s measurements that’s more than several of the world’s three biggest auto-makers combined.
Mind boggling stuff.
Small wonder then, that Musk can currently command quite a lot of attention – and thus drive up that share price – when he says that the Test Semi aka Cybertruck could use new battery cell technology to extend its range of 800-1,000km. A figure far beyond the best-case 500km touted by most engineers working in electric vehicles labs.
He also has the muscle and clout to turn heads and the rolodexes (or rolodexi? I’m sure Musk would know) of automotive head-hunters when he says he wants to build a design centre in Germany using local talent to build a smaller Tesla electric car.
“In Europe, I think it would make sense to do I guess a compact car – perhaps a hatchback or something like that. Something that answers ‘what do most people want?’ in a given region. In the US, cars tend to be bigger for personal taste reasons and in Europe, it tends to be smaller. If you try to park in dense urban environments, having a car that fits in tight parking spaces is important.
“I think there’s a lot of talent, talented designers and engineers, in Europe,” he said. “And a lot of the best people, they want to work somewhere where they are doing original design work. They don’t want to just be doing the European version of something that was designed in California. So, I think it’s important in order to attract the best talent to do original design.”
If Musk can drag Europe’s automotive industry out of an economic slump, then that would really make him worthy of his accolades and current market value.