In an interview for "60 Minutes" from CBS, the The chief executive of Tesla and Silicon Valley billionaire was asked about the competition from General Motors (GM), which announced last month that sacking thousands of workers as the centennial company shifts focus to electric vehicles and self- direction.
Musk looked unconcerned.
"If someone comes and makes an electric car better than the Tesla, and it's a lot better than ours that we can not sell our cars and crash, I still think it's a good thing for the world," Musk told Leslie Stahl. interview. The clips were shared online before their full broadcast on Sunday.
"Tesla's goal is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles and sustainable transportation," he said. "We are trying to help the environment, we think it is the most serious problem that humanity faces."
Making EVs Sensuous
Musk founded Tesla in 2003, after making millions by selling Paypal to eBay. Their goal was to take on the car giants and convince consumers that all-electric vehicles can be safe, reliable and sexy.
By most accounts, he did it. Tesla has built up a loyal fan base for his luxury electric vehicles, and the company is working to reach the mass market. His newest car, Model 3, is the closest, but with prices starting at $ 35,000.
Tesla has sold nearly 500,000 cars worldwide, representing about 20% of all-electric vehicles on the road today, according to a recent estimate from Navigant Research.
Legacy car manufacturers are now making parts for the EV market. Nissan introduced the all-electric Leaf at the end of 2010. And GM debuted the Chevy Bolt EV two years ago.
The Tesla (TSLA) outperformed these vehicles in the United States, but some experts wonder if Tesla's realm is at risk.
Volkswagen said recently that it will dump $ 50 billion into an "offensive" electric vehicle with plans to sell millions of fully electric cars in the next few years. The company will sell luxury sports vehicles under the Audi and Porsche brands, and may open mass-market cars that hurt Tesla in price, said Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess. The company plans to do so by improving its mass production experience.
Tesla's way forward
Increasing production volume proved to be difficult for Tesla as it debuted model 3. The company suffered months of delays because of problems in assembly lines.
Fixing itself cost millions of Tesla and required off-beat solutions that confused some investors.
"It was life or death," Musk told Stahl. "Those who bet against the company were right in all conventional standards that would fail. But they simply did not count on this unconventional situation of creating an assembly line in a parking lot in a tent."
Tesla proved that some critics made a mistake with their latest earnings report in October. The company posted net income of $ 312 million, by far the largest ever and the first quarterly profit since 2016.
But about $ 9 billion in debt will be owed to the company in the next few years, Goldman Sachs said in September. And Musk told investors recently that Tesla does not plan to raise more money to finance its future, while introducing new vehicle models and opening factories in Shanghai and Europe.
"We certainly could raise money, but I do not think we need to," Musk said in October. "And I think it's best not to discipline."
In his 60 Minutes interview, Musk also unveiled the possibility that Tesla could expand its presence in the United States. He said Tesla "would be interested" in taking over part of the factory space that GM said it would abandon during the restructuring.
The company's current assembly site in Fremont, California, also has a history with GM. The plant was operated jointly by GM and Toyota before Tesla took over in 2010.