The Tesla CEO's feud with Ford has started up again.
Elon Musk and Ford seemingly can't stop taking pot shots at each other. A few months ago, the Blue Oval automaker mocked Tesla on social media for its Model 3 production milestone. Just as Tesla recently turned a profit for the first time in years, Elon Musk has cast doubt on Ford's long-term future. While Ford was the only US automaker to avoid bankruptcy during the last recession, Musk thinks Ford may not survive the next recession.
"Ford and Tesla made it barely through the last recession. There's a good chance Ford doesn't make it in the next recession," Musk said in a recent interview with Recode.
That may seem like an ironic statement considering Tesla's financial struggles over the years, but Musk acknowledged how difficult it is to create a successful car company. He admitted it's "absurd that Tesla is alive."
"Making a car company successful is monumentally difficult," he said. "There have been many attempts to create a car company and they have all failed, even the ones that have had a strong base of customers, thousands of dealers, thousands of service centers, they've already spent the capital for the factories, like GM and Chrysler, still went bankrupt in the last recession."
Musk attributes a $50 million investment from Daimler for keeping the company alive during the financial crisis a decade ago. Daimler sold its investment in Tesla four years ago for a staggering $780 million.
It's worth listening to Recode's podcast interview with Musk as it covers a wide range of topics. Among these include the Tesla pickup, which Musk admitted is the model he is most excited about. "I'm personally super-excited by this pickup truck," he said. "It's something I've been wanting to make for a long time. And I've been iterating sort of designs with Franz… It's like I really wanted something that's like super-futuristic cyberpunk."
He also claimed that FBI investigations into Tesla's Model 3 production numbers are "utterly false" and that the next-generation Tesla Roadster will be the "fastest sports car on every dimension".
"We've got the next-generation Roadster," he said. "Fastest acceleration, fastest top speed, best handling. It's important to have an electric sports car that's faster than the fastest gasoline sports car. And it helps address that halo effect that gasoline sports cars have. So I think it's important to do that to show that, you know, electric is the best architecture." So… look out Bugatti, Hennessey and Koenigsegg? It's totally possible.
But there is one type of vehicle Musk definitely has zero plans to build, a motorcycle. It's not happening. Not now. Not ever. "I rode motorbikes a lot when I was a kid. So I did, like, dirt biking and then rode a motorcycle on the road. And then I almost got killed when I was 17. Most people are paralyzed, but depending on how you count it, the probability of death in a motorcycle versus a car - it's 25 times higher."
Regardless of Musk's situation with the SEC and some of Tesla's shareholders, and his beef with Ford, the guy clearly has a long-term vision and our own gut instinct tells us those shareholders should just let Musk be Musk. Hey, he's brought Tesla this far already.