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Exclusive Interview: Elon Musk Answers All the Questions
Although Tesla is the world’s most valuable car company by market cap, it does not have a working press department. Elon Musk decided years ago that the only press he could trust was the one that would flatter him and his endeavors. We had given up on getting answers from the company until he sent me a direct message on Twitter to come clean about all negative things that have emerged about the company. You’d even think it's April 1st!

Exclusive Interview: Elon Musk Answers All the Questions

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As hard as it was to believe it, we scheduled a video interview, and his only demand was that we write exactly what he said. Musk was pretty candid in his answers about quality issues, production delays, racism cases, and past promises, which the Tesla CEO denied were ever broken: they were just poorly timed.

Here’s the interview:

autoevolution: First of all, Mr. Musk, it is a surprise that you accepted to talk to the press. Most of all, that you asked us to talk about all that Tesla is going through.

Elon Musk: I felt that… uh… well… it was time to… clarify some stuff and reassure our customers and investor about… uh… their concerns.

ae: Perfect! Let’s start with what seems to be the most urgent situation with Tesla vehicles. I’m talking about quality issues. Paint that peels, suspensions that break, glasses that shatter on their own, and more recently, the failing heat pumps. How does Tesla plan to avoid those problems?

EM: We’re… uh… starting a program to check these issues. We always thought people would not complain about them, but… yeah. They did. Then, we thought we could fix them with over-the-air updates, but… well, it did not work as we planned.

But what about recalls or a better quality control process to avoid these things?

EM: That’s the idea now. Well, when we… uh… realized that some of these things did not work like software, we were… uh… quite mad that the strategy we had set before did not work. We wanted things to be simpler, to give customers a seamless experience. Who knew?

ae: Everybody did. Philippe Chain warned you about that before you released the Model S.

EM: Yeah, he did, but… uh… we wanted to make things differently. We did not want to follow what the automotive industry had done for more than one hundred years. That was outdated.

ae: But it worked, right? And it avoided many issues, prevented defective vehicles from hitting the roads… It does not always work but recalls help to solve that in most cases.

EM: We could not wait. We did not have the money to test. We had to spend it on other stuff.

ae: Such as in the MCUs that did not use automotive-grade screens?

EM: Well, uh… yeah. And in finding better ways to do cars at lower prices so that we could make a profit with our EVs. And in creating the Supercharging network.

ae: But wouldn’t it be better for you to invest more in quality control so that your customers have to inspect their cars to avoid those that are too problematic? Tesla does not spend much money on advertisements apart from China.

EM: Now we see that. For our cars to keep selling, we have to… uh… well, yeah. We have to make them more reliable so that people stop complaining about them. We’re lucky that some never do. They even bash those who complain on forums and on Facebook. Our Tesla ambassadors are great.

ae: Apologists, right?

EM: Well… yeah, that’s another way to frame them. I love it when they… uh… say that our cars saved their lives in fender benders!

ae: But what about those that just need a reliable car to drive? One that will not freeze them to death in cold weather, will not flood when it rains, or will not lose their bumpers in puddles…?

EM: I used to think we didn’t need them, but… yeah. It seems they are an essential part of customer base out there. Some of them don’t even have our stocks, so, yeah… we have to keep these guys happy as well. That’s why we’ll hire quality control experts.

ae: And what will they do? Will they test future vehicles more intensively? Will they…

EM: Oh, we will not have future cars. We need to sell the ones we have already developed.

ae: But what will you do about them?

EM: Uh… We will do nothing. Yeah…

ae: But what will this quality control program do?

EM: I’ll announce it on Twitter.

ae: Then what?

EM: Then our ambassadors will talk about it, share it, and we’ll… uh… generate more value to our investors.

ae: With no real changes to the cars?

EM: There will be real changes. We’ll add fun features to them. They’ll fart louder, fly, play music to pedestrians…

ae: But what about the issues? And the engineers that will be hired to solve them?

EM: We’ll say they took a sabbatical when they are too frustrated to continue and hire others.

ae: Cristina Balan was fired for trying to tell you about issues with the cars. She did not take a sabbatical. And Tesla accused her of terrible things, such as embezzlement.

EM: Yeah… Uh… We’ll hire her again and put her on a sabbatical right after that.

ae: And apologize?

EM: No, we never apologize. We give stock options. We make people millionaires, and they leave us alone.

ae: What about the customers that are waiting for the Cybertruck, the Semi, the Roadster…?

EM: We’ll make these EVs when we can.

ae: And when will that be?

EM: In two years.

ae: You said that more than two years ago for all of them.

EM: Yeah… I'm not good with predictions.

ae: Those customers were counting that you didn’t.

EM: They’ll get their cars. We have not broken any promises. We just… uh… postponed them.

ae: But what about those who already paid for their cars, such as Roadster customers?

EM: Those not willing to wait will get their money back in Tesla stocks equivalent to what they paid at the time. We could give them Dogecoins, but we do not want to get rid of them.

ae: At the price the shares had when they paid for their cars or the current one?

EM: The one they had. But people will not trade their Roadsters for $4 million. That would be insane.

ae: In what sense, if the car was worth $250,000 and it still does not exist?

EM: These cars will fly!

ae: With $4 million, they can buy planes.

EM: But not with their tops down.

ae: OK… You also promised people will have one million robotaxis made by Tesla by 2020. When will that happen?

EM: In two years.

ae: Then why are you already allowing people to use beta software on public roads as if it was autonomous or even ready to deploy?

EM: They asked for it.

ae: They paid for it. To be more precise, they paid for a production version of that software.

EM: Yeah…

ae: And when will they have it?

EM: In two years.

ae: What if they hit a pedestrian or a biker?

EM: Our legal disclaimer clearly states they are to blame. Would you let a drunk novice driver drive you home?

ae: Would you define Full Self-Driving that way?

EM: No. German courts did. Yeah…

ae: Perhaps we should talk about another topic. Regarding racism cases in Fremont…

EM: I have never seen anything there.

ae: But didn’t you use the bathrooms? What about the swastikas and racist writings on the walls?

EM: All I saw were… uh… weird flowers and strange memes on the wall. Besides, I was tweeting. Yeah…

ae: Well, Mr. Musk, is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

EM: Sure. Never believe the press.

ae: Even on April Fools'?

EM: No, that’s an exception. Everything you see on April Fool’s is true. Don’t you remember my joke about being “bankwupt?” I really was. Now I’m the richest man on Earth.

Editor's note: For those who did not get this, this is an April Fools' prank. Nothing here – apart from the issues Tesla still faces – is true.


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