When CEO Elon Musk reflects on the last decade, he grounds himself in Tesla company goals that were designed to spur the world’s transition to clean energy. Today, he is practical yet optimistic — he sees a future in which energy production moves from reliance on fossil fuels to pragmatic sustainable energy generation. A pervasive and systematic global shift to renewables is a core vision.
“My expectation is not like that the energy production must be pure as the driven snow, but it also cannot be using the world’s dirtiest coal, which it was for a moment there,” Musk said in his role as panelist at The B Word conference, which was focused on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “So, you know, that’s just difficult for Tesla to support in that situation. I do think long-term renewable energy will actually be the cheapest form of energy — it just doesn’t happen overnight.”
Musk explained during the conference panel discussion that energy storage systems, combined with solar and wind, aren’t the only ways to transition bitcoin to cleaner energy. He endorsed drawing upon existing hydropower, geothermal, and nuclear energy sources to reduce the environmental impact of bitcoin mining.
Square Crypto lead commentator Steve Lee asked Musk his advice about what can the energy-intensive bitcoin industry do “to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.” He also interjected, “Could Tesla Energy play a role?”
Musk replied, “Well, I think Tesla can play a role.”
Musk Reflects on the Tesla Journey
Musk’s capacity to excel in tangible innovations, such as batteries, all-electric cars, and rockets, is often in conflict with a risk-averse and heavily-regulated corporate and government environment. Yet he has shown that the US can be a center again for manufacturing at a time when most have moved off seas.
Tesla has installed a number of utility-scale energy storage systems, Musk reminded his bitcoin audience, that have helped utilities with “load-leveling the grid,” including in South Australia and elsewhere. But he noted that battery production was currently constraining production.
In a Twitter exchange with fans after The B Word Conference, Musk wrote that Tesla is still “not quite done” getting to “volume production” of its custom-designed 4680 battery cells.
“In fact, the limiting factor for us right now is cell production,” he noted. “So we need to both internally get our Tesla internal battery cells produced as well as increase supply from suppliers.”
Musk also repeated that, even once Tesla can make its own battery cells, it will still rely on other battery cell makers. Its current cell suppliers include Panasonic, LG, and CATL.
“Generally, when I talk to our suppliers and they say ‘how many cells would you like?’ I say ‘how many cells can you make?’ You know, ’cause sometimes they’re concerned. Is Tesla gonna compete with them on cells? I’m like, ‘No no, if you want to make the cells, be our guest.’ It’s just that we need a crazy number of batteries.”
Stories that Chronicle How Musk Reflects
Two new books — both written with Musk’s cooperation — peer into the mindset that made Musk the entrepreneurial genius of his times.
- Liftoff by Eric Berger reviews the highs and lows of the SpaceX early years.
- Power Play by Tim Higgins traces Tesla’s tumultuous journey from the launch of the 2009 Roadster, onto the Model S luxury sedan, and then to the mass appeal Model 3 — now the world’s best-selling electric car.
A New York Times book review chronicles the 2 books and Musk’s stormy rise to success.
In 2008, the Great Recession had hit the US. This sharp decline in economic activity, caused by the abrupt rise and fall of the US housing market due to mortgage-backed securities speculation and derivatives, hit many sectors. Musk assembled his top execs and admitted that Tesla was in real trouble — ready to run out of money. Millions of dollars of customer deposits for the Roadster had already been expended without deliveries. Replacing the existing CEO with himself, Musk cut 25% of the Tesla workforce, realizing that only 3 weeks of cash remained.
But on his BlackBerry was an image of the Model S luxury sedan that he envisioned as the next auto in the Tesla catalog. He borrowed the necessary funding to keep the company afloat and prodded his investors to match him.
When he received confirmation that the investors would back his idea for the company redirection, Musk was quite emotional. “All of his fortune was now on the line,” Higgins writes. “From the depths of the Great Recession, he’d done something that other US automakers were unable to do: avoid bankruptcy.”
Musk reflected on his feelings at that moment in time. “It felt like I had been taken out to the firing squad, and been blindfolded,” he admitted. “Then they fired the guns, which went click. No bullets came out. And then they let you free. Sure, it feels great. But you’re pretty [expletive] nervous.”
What Musk Knows Matters
What makes Elon Musk different than his competitors? He has a deep knowledge of the physics, thermodynamics, and technology underlying his products. Thus, he knows what boundaries he can push. “In meetings, Musk might ask his engineers to do something that, on the face of it, seemed absurd,” Berger writes. “When they protested that it was impossible, Musk would respond with a question designed to open their minds to the problem, and potential solutions. He would ask, ‘What would it take?’”
In an incredibly honest exchange at the bitcoin conference, Musk opened up to the audience.
“I would say I’ve had some pretty tough life experiences,” Musk revealed, “and Tesla’s probably responsible for two-thirds of all personal and professional pain combined, to give you a sense of perspective there.”
But in the same week, one of Musk’s fans attempted to assuage Musk’s admitted turmoil. The account user — named the “Pope of Muskanity” — featured a clip from the popular video game Super Mario Bros. in a tweet. The character Mario had to wade past a variety of tough challenges and obstacles to win the game. The accompanying tweet noted, “How hard it is for Elon Musk to avoid controversies.”
The user tagged the Tesla CEO, who decided to react. “Although to be fair, I dig my own grave a lot.” He included some laughing emojis in his response.
The “Pope of Muskanity” continued the conversation, adding a tweet that contemplated the ideal of freedom. “Freedom of speech and freedom of thought are only actually positives if you act and think like you’re expected to, Master Elon! PS: Don’t worry, we faithful appreciate your candor.”
🤣🤣 although to be fair, I dig my own grave a lot
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
We’ve all watched Elon Musk navigate a spectrum of emotions in his public role as Tesla CEO –ranging from high anxiety to jubilant glee. He admits to his own foibles, such as the “significant mistakes” the company made in its Solar Roof project, which has had delays and cost overruns. He stated that the Cybertruck might flop, but said he doesn’t care, as he loves its unusual trapezoid-like design.
He’s often filtered, sometimes quick to react, and always eager to promote Tesla. Elon Musk reflects and previews, explains and exclaims, but he is always an inspiration for us who hope to live in a sustainable world one day. As Musk reflects on his rise to prominence, he offers us instruction about the ways that we, too, must self-assess yet move on with the will to transcend forks in the proverbial road.
Elon Musk says Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’
Elon Musk reveals that Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’ – indicating that it could be one of the first versions of the electric pickup truck.
Tesla is on the verge of delivering the first Cybertruck.
Despite the automaker having produced likely hundreds of trucks and being about to start deliveries, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the electric pickup truck.
Tesla first unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019 and announced specs and pricing at the time, but the automaker is known to update its vehicles significantly from prototype to production. On top of it, the auto market has changed a lot since then, and that is expected to completely change the prices that Tesla announced for the Cybertruck.
Those expected changes have led to speculation about which Cybertruck models are going to be available, when, and at what prices.
We have recently seen evidence that at least some of Tesla’s Cybertruck release candidates are dual-motor powertrain trucks, which is leading people to believe that it might likely be the first
Now CEO Elon Musk is now adding some information into the mix by saying on X that he recently drove a “performance Cybertruck”:
I just drove the performance Cybertruck today and it kicks ass next-level.
This means that Tesla currently has a “performance” version of the Cybertruck, which could mean it could be amongst the first versions to come to market.
Tesla has previously announced a tri-motor version of the Cybertruck with the following specs:
- Tri Motor AWD with 500+ miles of range, 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, top speed of 130 mph, and starting price of $69,900
That could certainly qualify as a “performance version”, but there have also been rumors of Tesla offering a potential quad-motor version of the Cybertruck, which could have even higher performance.
Tesla is expected to announce all the details of the Cybertruck at a delivery event, which could come within the next few weeks.
This 100 MPH ‘street legal’ 2-seater electric race car from China looks pretty legit
Most of the fun and funky vehicles I manage to dredge up for the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week are big on weirdness but short on power. This time that seems to be reversed, as this electric race car is more wild than weird and comes with some seriously impressive performance.
This isn’t some slow crawling electric battle tank or ice-cream truck shaped like a VW bus. Those are more typical of this series on odd Chinese EVs, but this time we’re going all-in for extreme performance.
That means you’d better be ready to buckle in for speeds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph)! And based on some of these product photos, I wouldn’t mind buckling into the passenger seat for the first few rides.
Powering this little racer’s rear wheels is a 10 kW (13.5 hp) electric motor, which might not sound that powerful, but remember just how potent the low end torque from an electric motor is for rocketing off the line.
And since the entire vehicle only weighs 650 kg (1,433 lb), not to mention an extra 45 kg (100 lb) of cover girl model, there just isn’t that much mass here to be accelerated.
Plus the Chinese tend to rate motors with continuous power, not peak power. So there’s probably more kilowatts under the hood than we’re expecting. There’s no information on what kind of controller is powering that motor, but I’d wager that the peak power could be closer to 20 kW (27 hp).
There’s also a surprisingly large battery in this little racer, to the tune of 14.4 kWh. It’s a 96V pack built from LG lithium-ion cells and would give several American electric motorcycles a run for their money.
According to the vendor, it should be enough for 150 km (96 miles) of range per charge, though there’s no mention if that’s on a city street track or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speaking of city streets, the company says that the vehicle is ECE certified and “can be legally driven on European streets”. I guess we’ll just have to take their word on that, unless someone wants to buy one of these and try it out themselves.
There’s no word on DOT-certification and so it’s likely not street legal in the US. But that might not stop someone from going full-‘Murica doing donuts in the local Krogers parking lot with their bald eagle riding shotgun.
If you want to get some skin in the game (eagle not included), it’s going to cost you a cool US $28,000. Or at least that would be the first payment. There’s no telling how much you’d have to fork over afterwards for ocean freight, import charges, taxes, and other add-on charges along the way.
But for anyone hoping to try their luck with the local European cops, it’s at least comforting to see that these vehicles seem to actually be in real production.
The vendor shared several images of what look like a sea of frames alongside several partially assembled race cars.
I’m not recommending anyone actually try to buy one of these from Alibaba. In fact, I’d probably recommend the opposite. Let’s just treat this as a fun window-shopping exercise.
But for the person who inevitably ignores my warnings (as many of my readers have been known to do) and plunks down some serious cash for one of these, let me know if and when it arrives. I will be there in a second to go for a ride with you!
This EV fast charging station tells you when its power is at its cheapest and greenest
This DC fast charging station tells EV drivers when renewable energy is at its peak in the grid – and thus when charging prices are cheapest.
The “Better Energy Charge” station in Sønderborg, Denmark, is owned by renewable energy company Better Energy. (It sits next to the company’s R&D solar park.)
What makes this charging station unique is its dynamic pricing model. It differs from traditional fixed pricing schemes because it incentivizes EV drivers with lower charging prices when renewable energy is at its peak on the grid.
The charging price, which is available the day before, follows the Danish energy spot prices. Similar to a gas station’s pricing signs, the EV charging station’s price board is visible from the road. (Why don’t all EV charging stations do this?)
“We want to encourage people to charge their cars when there is a lot of renewable electricity in the grid by making it cheaper when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing,” said Peter Munck Søe-Jensen, EVP of power solutions at Better Energy.
The Danish company feels its model helps drivers plan in advance to charge their EVs when energy is at its cheapest. And by charging EVs when solar and wind energy production is high, consumers can also increase the probability that it’s renewable, not fossil fuel-powered, energy.
What do you think of this model? Have you seen anything similar? Let us know in the comments below.
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