Tesla Dumb At Making Cars, Says Elon Musk (Podcast)

Photo Credit: jdlasica / Foter.com / CC BY-NC
I think the most hilarious (and humble) thing Elon said during Tesla’s 2013 Quarter 2 Financial Results Q&A was that Tesla is “dumb” at making cars. If anyone else said it, it’d warrant a whole swarm of Tesla enthusiasts (including many of the top auto journalists in the world) attacking said person, but it was Elon Musk himself.

To put it into perspective, Elon was answering a question regarding why Tesla’s gross margin had improved in Q2 compared to Q1. He said that, basically, “In the 4th quarter of last year, we were extremely dumb at making cars. In the 1st quarter, we were, maybe, still pretty dumb. (laugh) And [we were] slightly dumb in the 2nd quarter. And, hopefully by the 4th quarter, we will at least not be dumb…. This is not some super, you know, how do we get so super good, it’s like, how do we stop being so stupid. (laugh)” [A recording of this section is at the bottom of the post.] So, it’s nice to see that Elon is also laughing at his own Tesla as well as BMW’s i3.

Pretty interesting. And funny. But there’s more to it than even that. It shows a few important things:

  1. Tesla has a lot of room for improvement. Elon sees that and is moving the company forward (as are a lot of other people at Tesla).
  2. Elon has high expectations and targets. (Everyone knew that.)
  3. Elon is not afraid to laugh at his company’s inabilities, and to call his company stupid to the media and shareholders. I think that’s pretty damn awesome. It’s a sign of confidence, of course, but it’s also a clear sign of openness and honesty. Very refreshing in this day and age. Kudos and thanks to Elon for that.
  4. It shows, I think, that we can expect even much better performance from Tesla in the future, a message which may have been Elon’s underlying aim in that self-deprecation.

Go ahead and listen to the recording and let us know if anything else sticks out to you:

Elon Musk: “we were extremely dumb at making cars”

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