This is an interview between Elon Musk and Marques Brownlee so enjoy.
Sup guys MKBHD here and just got back from sunny California, where we spent some time with possibly the busiest man alive, Elon Musk. But he was super generous with his time. And we did this sort of a sit down chat at the Tesla factory and then also did a sort of a factory tour which will be a separate video coming soon, but ton of things we could have talked about since we were at Tesla at that time.
Basically, our topics ranged from talking about Tesla products to our love for Tesla to tech and the future or wrapped into one. So this is that chat thanks for watching enjoy alright. First of all, thanks for taking the time sitting down, I’m on your very busy schedule. I’M sure good see you yeah.
This is a. This is a really interesting place to be we’re kind of in, like a bird’s eye view of seeing a couple couple different things happening behind us in the factory. These occasionally move which is yeah. Does it those are empty door carriers so that they would have carried the doors to cars to get assembled and then they’re on their way back to pick up some more doors nice? So I think most people know you as the boss, the face of Tesla.
The decision maker for those who, just for some context, what is your, how do you spend time at Tesla? What do you do? Yeah, it’s a good question. I think probably a lot of people generalize, I’m like basically in the factory in design or engineering meetings or production, so that’s like 80 90 percent of the time. I think sometimes people think I spent a lot of time in Twitter yeah and I would get why they would think that yeah, that’s crazy, but actually it’s like that’s like almost nothing.
Most of my time, you spent at least the last several months, especially going around the factory and then working on, say the paint shop, the body shop, where we weld up the body, the final assembly we put all the parts together and, and then, if I’m not Here I’m either I’m at the Giga Factory in Nevada, okay, so p100, the owner undefeated in stop light races a while now rich over here in audio model, three Priya pre-order, okay, waiting for his and branded behind the camera, also waiting for model three.
Okay. What person are you waiting for long-range, long-range and and what color that is it? That is a good cover, okay, cool. So my question is: how, aside from making great products, how do you get people excited about Tesla there’s a lot of people I know, and that I talked to who are just intrigued and interested and excited about Tesla’s accompany the thing that really focus on at Tesla Is like really put all the money into an attention into trying to make the product as compelling as possible, so because I think that the really the way to sell any product is through word of mouth. So if somebody gets the car they really like it, they and actually the key, is like to have a product that people love and and journal people, if that a party or toward friends, whatever you’ll talk about the things that you love.
But if you just like something, it’s okay, you’re, not gon na care that much. But if you’ve reactions from the highs and the lows, I’m gon na you’re gon na talk, you know and and and then that’ll generate, turns word of mouth and that’s basically how our sales have grown like we aren’t we’re, not spending money on advertising or endorsements or And so anywhere like fives our car, they just bought it because they they like the car – and you know it’s like it’s genuine and no discounts like I actually even pay full retail price. For my own cars, okay, yeah and yeah. They were really focused on trying to make the car is more affordable.
It’S just really really tough like in order to make the cars affordable. You really, you need high volume, see the economies of scale and because the other car companies make a lot more cars than we do. They got way better economies of scale. So as we gradually able to build up and do do more cars higher volume, then we can bold them force progressively like less money and then make make the cars available to wide wide range people.
But it’s super obviously like the car industry is like a super. This is like super competitive. It was like one of the it’s like insanely competitive. I read a really interesting, or I think I heard it actually from an earnings call about something.
Interesting, you said is one of the top five most frequent trade ins for model. Three is it Prius right yeah which starts at you, know 20-something thousand dollars, and they obviously have massive economies of scale. Do you think there’s a room I mean Tesla has model three Model S and Road stirring up. Is there room for possibly an even less expensive quality electric car experience? Yeah? Absolutely.
I think I think, in order for us to get to like let’s say ultimately getting like a twenty five thousand dollar car and that that’s that’s something we could we could do, but it’s probably if we really work really hard. I think maybe we could do that in three years. We’Re come with time and scale or just yeah. It’S a bit of both yeah cuz, like the the key to making things affordable is, is like designing it’s like design and technology improvements as well as scale.
So if you think of like save phones like the very earliest, like the earliest cell phones, like an extra man, I’m probably dating myself here but like the original Wall Street yeah, guys like walking down the beach he’s, got like the psychology is he’s carrying on. Like a briefcase hanger massive, like massive massive phone yeah and like all, I could do – is phone yep, yep and like had like thirty minutes of battery life and that kind of thing now at that time, in the absence of technology improvement, it’s like no amount of Money, no amount of scale could have made that phone for de-ball that’s be a lot of engineering iterations, a lot of design iterations and we’re probably out on the thirtieth version of a cell phone or and and with each successive design. Iteration, you can add more capability. You can design you can integrate more things.
You figure out better ways to produce it, so it actually gets better and cheaper. But it’s like it’s like a natural progression of any new technology that it takes multiple versions and large volume in order to make it affordable. Is there anything in the near future of Tesla that you’re really excited about yeah? It’S a lot of things actually, who really like we’ve got definitely we’re more product ideas. Then we have resources to execute we’re just talking about this with my team, just like hey guys, would you know which we focus on and now in the past, we’ve only done one car at a time and but, as you know, as you’re going to the future, We’Re gon na, like basically figure out how to walk and chew, gum.
It’S like okay, how do we do two products at the same time, but still have enough resources that both products are great right and so we’re gon na? You know we’re gon na try to do you know two products. One of them for sure’s is like the model y. You know cuts or compact SUV, comparable price point to the model. 3 then there’s the semi, the pickup truck and the and the next-gen roadster yeah.
Like addiction Royce is kind of like desert. We got a box like yeah, yeah yeah, it’s it’s super, exciting mm-hmm, but it’s like – and I think, there’s definitely some value to doing it – to show that an electric car can be faster than a gasoline car in every way. Yes, I think there’s like because the soul, that’s sort of like a halo effect of the gas nice force cause because, like in terms of top speed, they’re still have the best top speed. Ya know that halo effect that I was gon na.
Basically, every metric possible seems like really ambitious, like there’s a lot of things that people people like me, kind of, except that, like I love my electric car, but I I know it’s not gon na put down lap times 30 laps in just because there’s yes. So the rejection, exactly we got to work on that yeah I was actually I was just talking to the team was like you know. I think we got some Headroom there yeah. Oh, we can talk about track mode, yeah, sure yeah, because I had a very short experience of track.
Yeah yeah, so I love so obviously, roadster is gon na be yeah that that halo car and if we’re confident, is gon na be an amazing car. I hope it’s that car to beat essentially yeah but then bring in track mode down to model 3, brings that fun experience to a lot of more people that exactly yeah. So it’s kind of, like you know like like we’re, like basically a bunch of nerds here. So obviously we gave it away yeah but like, like the you know, so we’re tracking Lord.
When I open up a lot of settings, it’s like you can adjust settings and it’s got like an expert user mode and, and you can sort of adjust traction control adjust like battery temperature. You know break to like you, can basically a configure a bunch of things and will tell you like hey. You know if you do this, it’s a bit risky, like you, gon na wear at your breaks a little sooner. It’S like you might blow a circuit.
You know like like, but like it’ll, be clear. Like you know, this is the risk that you’re taking yeah it’s kinda like. If you have a graphics card in computer, you can like go in there and you can change the settings and you can like overclock things. Yeah and like ok, but you know so that’s gon na – be all that will be in track mode and you’re gon na see that and meso there, yes, cold yeah be cool like try, different things and wait.
Um yeah I’ll be fun a little more on roadster, because I had a car. I made a video about it just after the event. I was sad. I couldn’t be there, but I’m a day, 1 deposit, because I was that excited ok uh, but I was wondering after you made that announcement one you said.
I think I quote plenty of space. What does that mean? Oh, you mean like like, like it, won’t be cramped inside, like you’re like basically, if you’re, if you’re a tall, dude you’ll be able to sit in there. I’ll tell you it’s six four and a half. Ok, so I feel like if you’re comfortable in there a lot of people will be yeah and then, like my brother, is six for comfortable in it.
Yeah yeah, okay, alright and France is like six three. I don’t know every tool and my other question was the side mirrors. There’S been a theme in in the past, with prototypes and cars that we’ve seen before they come out, they don’t have mirrors regulatory, they have to have mirrors. Is there an advantage to actually having mirrors or is there is a just aerodynamic or is there more to it? That’S what it’s it’s.
Actually, surprisingly, the mers, particularly at high speeds, can have quite a big effect on the drag of a car they’re like little air brakes, basically like typical car side mirrors a reduce a highway arranged by around 5 % yeah. That’S it’s pretty intense. So you see in a wind tunnel like you can see, you know when you suck those sort of smoke trails in the wind tunnel. You can see just how much yeah they’re like they’re, just like air brakes, ooh beard now actually one kind of like a teardrop shape.
So it’s like it’s. It doesn’t end in like a bluff right cuz. It creates a low-pressure zone behind the the MIRR and so you’d have like how it kind of most like a cone behind the mirror or blend it with the body or something like that. Okay, so it’s like they’re, actually, surprisingly, draggy now a manufacturer is required to have side view mirrors, but I believe that a the owner is not like your, I think.
Okay, you can modify things like at least in the US. You can. If you, the owner, can modify things the rule is about manufacturing, not driving. Very much about manufacturers are very tightly constrained.
Okay, I was actually one things that makes it very hard to to make a car that looks good and has a good performance and aerodynamics area, because it’s like you got, you got all these constraints and there’s so many rules. You need to follow. So it’s very challenging to make a car look good. My other question about roadster the specs are insane their ludicrous.
Some might say yeah. So there’s plat, you only thing beyond ludicrous is plat so 0-60 in 1.9 seconds, but more importantly, I was interested in is the two hundred kilowatt hour battery and the six hundred plus mile range is: are these numbers assuming an improvement in available technology by 2020 or Are they something you can achieve now, but don’t have the manufacturing capacity to or is it somewhere in between yeah? So I think it like. Basically, it’s like to model s3, 100 packs yeah, but but you’re really just doubling the the internals that beset the cells inside.
So there’s like a lot of stuff, that’s related to the pack and the packaging and safety and all that sort of stuff that is not related to the cell. So you can double the number of modules inside and and will at with, but it would still be like maybe an 80 % increase in the volume of the the packs like the floor would get or four or five inches higher if it was concurrent technology. So but but we would, we think we probably get another – maybe 20 percent 10 at least 10, maybe 20 percent improvement, because we’ll use the thing about like an expensive cars, we can use the the state-of-the-art the most advanced equipment like it’s gon na, like with with Computers, like they’ve, come out with a new like graphics card or CPU. It’S like initially it’s expensive and so, but then over time that that price drops down.
Everyone, like wonder, is it like? Do you have like automation? Dfp boasts like we’re. Both you know, it’s like a cyborg, but like integrated Sidewalk thing, yes, like one of the biggest constraints for us is, is like being able to hire enough people. That’S I was gon na ask cilia and there’s a lot of young man parking. There’S a lot of parking here yeah you have a lot of robots and a lot of people in the factory.
What do people do that? Robots can’t do and obviously there’s a lot that robots can do as far as lifting and moving things, but as far as precision, maybe those things they can do that humans can’t do you have a ratio off the top of your head? Maybe, as far as people versus machines yeah, it’s very smashley depending upon what part of the production process right.
So so some parts of it are like 80 to 90 percent automated and then some parts of it are like only 10 to 20 percent or one of those one of those parts that humans do better than humans are really good at adaptation and and rapid evolution And like doing like a little like finicky, things like like that, like for General Assembly, like one of the mistakes we made, that was like pretty pretty big mistake was trying to automate journal assembly, which is where you put the parts together. You know it’s like some of the things it’s like like trying to connect a hose, but it’s like sort of dangling around I see and and and then you got like the robots like got ta find the hose grab it like then connected to another hose at That plant, it’s like really hard yeah, like a person, you just go out there done gotcha yeah. That makes a lot of sense, yeah and it’s like when you see it.
It’S like wow, it’s super super obvious, and then we try to have robots. Do this, like we robots like grabbing the wrong thing, and let’s take it over here and I’m like? Oh, the the hose was here when the robot thought it was here as mad like tries to grab air and then like smashes into the car. Like you don’t want that we yeah it’s the cars tragedy of errors like pushing you could say like this thing needs to connect to that thing, and and then, however, they they arrive person to figure it out the robot we drove up like yeah and then, as Far as Tesla’s overall master plan is what it was originally called, so you start with the low volume high price roadster. Then you move on Model S higher volume, lower price to model 3.
As far as I know, that’s where the master plan ended yeah. That was like plot one yeah. Everyone waited model X in there, which you know it was that wasn’t that was like. That was definitely an exercise in hubris.
The month now the X is an amazing car and it’s like it, but it’s like we kind of got carried away with the art. I hear it’s very difficult to make yeah we got carried away with the character with art and technology. It’S like it. Obviously, what you want great art, you want great technology, but we did get a little distracted from our mission, which is to like advance the cause of electric vehicles and, and it probably delayed us a little bit with the model 3 as well.
So I guess my last question in here would be just as far as the Tesla master plan part one coming to an end. Is it now just a matter of steering a ship towards new opportunities? You see, there’s not a lot of companies making a $ 35,000 electric car and a quarter million dollar supercar and a semi-truck and doing them all really well right. Do you guys see yourself just keeping a tight ship and picking your your choices here and there yeah? That’S why we, what I’m saying like we it’s it’s a it’s, a tough strategic hole between focus and like me, wanting to do a bunch of different models like we.
I think we want to try doing two at the same time like we’re only ever done one at the same time before do two and then and then, if we get got that you’re good with that, then we could just try doing three at a time like A lot of the other manufacturers they’ll do like you, know twelve at a time yeah, if they’re way bigger than us, wait awesome she the best of luck with it and thanks for taking the time to sit down yeah thanks.
Thank you very cool, appreciate it.