Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Cars, SpaceX, and the Henrik Fisker Rivalry

By Matthew Askari | August 17, 2012
You might know Elon Musk—considering you're reading this on Automotive.com—as the CEO of Tesla Motors, makers of the Model S, and the Roadster. You also might have heard of his other ventures, such as online behemoth PayPal, or SpaceX, which was recently granted a $440 million contract from NASA to help develop a replacement for the Space Shuttle. Regardless of how you may know him, he's one busy man, but he took some time out to speak with our colleagues at our sister site, Automobilemag.com. Deputy editor Joe Dematio and editor David Zenlea visited Musk at his office in the Southern California SpaceX complex, and got the skinny on his ventures and future plans. He even had a few words concerning Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker. Musk said the economic downfall had him questioning the viability and future of both Tesla and SpaceX. "The debate in 2008 was whether I was going to let Tesla die or [not]. It was a very tough point. Because if I split my resources between Tesla and SpaceX, then there was a chance that both would die. Both were in very difficult positions in 2008." Musk also said the Tesla headache was originally supposed to be a modest project, but ended up costing about $150 million. "I think the initial business plan was, like, $25 or $30 million to try to bring a car to market using...a derivative of the [Lotus] Elise chassis and some powertrain technology that had been developed by AC Propulsion. As it turned out, the AC Propulsion technology didn’t work, so we had to redo all that." The Tesla CEO said the next challenge for the all-electric automaker would be to develop a $30,000 sedan, about the size of a BMW 3 Series, or an Audi A4. Plans for that car are still some years off. Musk also commented on Henrik Fisker, a man with whom he has had a very public spat. "I don’t think very highly of Henrik Fisker… The fundamental problem with Henrik Fisker he is a designer or stylist…he thinks the reason we don’t have electric cars is for lack of styling… But just making something look like an electric car does not make it an electric car." You can read the interview in its entirety on Automobilemag.com Source: Automobile Magazine