Elon Musk talks to the FT about Twitter, Tesla and Trump | FT

Let me ask you to put yourproduct development hat on. And if you pair Twitter allthe way back, what is it, and what do you think itcan be in 10 years' time? Well, what I've said is thatI think Twitter is currently the best or, looked atanother way, the least bad public square. A forum for theexchange of ideas.

Nationally and internationally. But I think it could bea lot better at that. In order to bebetter at that, it needs to really get rid ofthe bots, and the scams, and spammers, andbasically anyone trying to create sort of fakeinfluence on the site by whereas oneperson or one entity operating a hundredthousand accounts. Or obviously scammersare not good.

And Twitter really needs todo a much better job at that. It also needs to buildtrust, more trust with users. I think the way to do that isby open sourcing the algorithm so everyone can see how thealgorithm works and can suggest improvements and changes. I would literally just put theTwitter algorithm on GitHub and say like, hey, anyone wantto suggest changes to this? Please go ahead. And just you really wanttransparency to build trust.

And then any sort ofadjustments to tweets or any human interventionwith any account on Twitter should be highlightedas a Twitter person took the following action with youraccount or with this tweet so that you're notsort of sitting there in the dark wondering,why did this tweet not get any attention? Or why did this oneget a lot of attention? It's far too random.

And then I think Twitter needsto be much more even-handed. It currently hasa strong left bias because it's basedin San Francisco. I don't think the peoplethere necessarily intend, or at least have someof them don't intend, to have a left bias. It's just from theirperspective, it seems moderate. But they're just comingat it from an environment.

That is very far left. So but then this fails to buildtrust in the rest of the United States and also perhaps inother parts of the world because Twitter needs tobe even-handed and be… I think I saidpublicly, a victory would be that the mostfar right 10 per cent and the most far left 10per cent are equally upset. I don't think thisis a situation where you're going to getnecessarily a lot of praise.

You're just going tobalance the anger. So how do you,because people will automatically associate youwith Tesla and you with Twitter. Is there any risk in your mindthat the actions that you're going to take at Twitter,which you've admitted freely will upset somepeople, potentially lead to a commercialimpact on Tesla? I'm confident that wewill be able to sell.

All the cars we can make. I mean, currently, thelead time for ordering a Tesla is ridiculously low. Our issue is not demand. It is production. But that's at the momentbecause of the global supply chains and the chip shortages. That's less aroundelectric car demand,.

Which we are expecting to goabsolutely through the roof. And you obviously havevery ambitious targets for that at Tesla. Yeah, I mean, even before therewas the supply chain issues, Tesla demandexceeded production. So now, it's demand isexceeding production to a ridiculous degree. We're actually probablygoing to limit or just.

Stop taking orders for anythingbeyond a certain period of time. Because some of thetiming is a year away. So anyway, the frustration thatwe're seeing from customers is being unableto get them a car, not are they willing orinterested in buying a car. So basically, I think zeroabout demand generation and a lot about production, andengineering, and supply chain. I have two more questionson Twitter, if I may,.

Before we turn for the restof the session to Tesla. How confident are youthe deal will happen? And is there a risk, this isall one question, and is there a risk? Because you're putting a lot ofyour personal stake up for this to fund it. Is there a risk thatif it all goes south, you're imperillingyour stake in Tesla, potentially hurting Teslafinancially and maybe even.

SpaceX if it all goes to pot? That's the technical term. Yeah, sure. So I mean, I thinkthere's still a lot of things that need to get donebefore this deal concludes. Obviously, there's not yeteven been a shareholder vote. And Twitter has not yet filedthe proxy for a shareholder vote.

So there are still someoutstanding questions that need to be resolved. And so it is certainlynot a done deal. And just objectively,it's not yet a deal. The best casescenario is that this would be I think perhapsdone in two or three months. Yeah. And the final question,and this is really.

The toupe'd elephantin the room, are you planning to letDonald Trump back on? Well, I think there's ageneral question of, should Twitter have permanent bans? And I've talked withJack Dorsey about this and he and I are ofthe same mind, which is that permanent bans shouldbe extremely rare and really reserved for people wherethey're trying to, for accounts.

That are bots, or spam, scamaccounts, where there's just no legitimacy tothe account at all. I do think that it was notcorrect to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake. Because it alienated a largepart of the country and did not ultimately result in DonaldTrump not having a voice. He is now going tobe on Truth Social as well a large part of sort ofthe right in the United States. And so I think thiscould end up being.

Frankly worse than having asingle forum where everyone can debate. So I guess the answeris that I would reverse the permanent ban. Obviously, I don'town Twitter yet. So this is not like a thingthat will definitely happen. Because what if Idon't own Twitter? But my opinion,and Jack Dorsey, I want to be clearshares this opinion,.

Is that we should nothave permanent bans. Now that doesn'tmean that somebody gets to say whateverthey want to say. If they say something thatis illegal, or otherwise just destructive to theworld, then there should be perhaps a timeout,a temporary suspension, or that particular tweetshould be made invisible, or have very limited traction. But I think permabans justfundamentally undermine.

Trust in Twitter as atown square where everyone can voice their opinion. I think it was amorally bad decision, to be clear, andfoolish in the extreme. Even after he egged on the crowdwho went to the US Capitol, some of them carrying nooses. You still think it wasa mistake to remove him? I think that if there aretweets that are wrong, and bad,.

Those should be eitherdeleted or made invisible. And a suspension, a temporarysuspension, is appropriate. But not a permanent ban. So if the deal completes,he might potentially come back on but withthe understanding that if he doessomething similar again, he'll be back in the sin pin?.

He has publicly statedthat he will not be coming back to Twitterand that he will only be on Truth Social. And this is the pointthat I'm trying to make, which is perhapsnot getting across, is that banningTrump from Twitter didn't end Trump's voice. It will amplify itamong the right. And this is why it is morallywrong and flat out stupid.

OK, thank you. Let's turn to Tesla again. I'd like to ask you aboutyour ambitions for the future. You've said you wantthe company to be able to make 20 millioncars a year by 2030, which would make it the same sizeas Toyota and Volkswagen combined today. Give us a sense, what doesthe business look like by 2030.

To make 20 million cars? Plants, footprints, models. Yes, well this is not a forumfor announcing new products, new Tesla products. The 20 million by 2030 is anaspiration, not a promise. And the reason for aimingfor something like that.

Is there are approximatelytwo billion cars and trucks in the world. And for us to really make adent in sustainable energy and electrification, I thinkwe need to replace at least one per cent of the fleet peryear to really be meaningful. And that's where the 20million units comes from is, let's try toreplace one per cent of the global fleetof two billion cars and trucks per year.

And that's our aspiration. It's not a promise. It's an aspiration. I think we've got a goodchance of getting there. And people will see based onthe products that we unveil, will be able tojudge for themselves whether that goalis realistic or not. We have an incredibleteam at Tesla. And executing very well.

And our annual growthrates are faster than any large manufactured productin the history of earth. I think the next fastest wasthe growth of the Model T. And we're fasterthan the Model T. So if that growthrate continues, then obviously, we will reachabout 20 million vehicles a year. But we may stumble andnot reach that goal.

And I'd say roughly, it'sroughly equally difficult to have gotten to this point aswill be to get to 20 million. And what's thebiggest uncertainty with getting to 2030? Is it manufacturing ramping? Is it the raw materials? Is it something else? There are some rawmaterial constraints.

That we see comingin lithium production probably in about three yearsand in cathode production. The cathode, the twomain cathode choices are nickel and iron phosphate. Obviously, iron isextremely plentiful. But Earth is 32 per centiron by composition. So a little bit oftrivia, if someone says, what is Earth made of,the single biggest element that Earth is made of is iron.

The second biggest elementthat Earth is made of is oxygen, which is about30 per cent of Earth mass. So clearly, iron isnot in short supply. The phosphate is slightlymore of a challenge, but still quite common. So I do not see any fundamentalscaling constraints. And lithium isalso quite common. So lithium ispractically everywhere.

So this is not a questionof a shortage of as though it's some rare element. It's really just that thelithium mining, and especially the refining capacity, and thatof taking iron and phosphorus and turning it into batterygrade iron phosphate, or nickel and turning it intobattery grade nickel is, it's really the equipment. I think the singlebiggest constraint would be the equipment necessaryto convert the ore into battery.

Grade materials. Yes. I think you're sort of puttingtoo much emphasis on those 20 million vehicles by2030 as though this is some grand promise, somehill upon which we will die. It is simply an aspiration. And we may achieve it. We may not.

Our goal is to accelerate theadvent of sustainable energy. And so that's why we wantto make a lot of cars, and also a lot ofstationary battery packs. Because the three pillars ofa sustainable energy future are electric transport,stationary battery packs, and solar and wind,and geothermal, and hydro, basicallysustainable energy sources. But solar and windparticularly are intermittent. And so you needstationary battery.

Packs to store the energywhen the sun doesn't shine. Do you think Tesla hassucceeded in its goal then? Or do you think there'sstill much more to do? I think we've notsucceeded in the goal. If you consider the goal to begetting the automotive industry to move strongly towardselectric vehicles, I think that part of thegoal we have succeeded in. And that was explicitlypart of our goal.

Is to get the industry movingtowards electric vehicles. Because they were doingnothing in that direction when we started. And for the longest time, theywere dismissing the concept of electric vehicles. And then Tesla started takingmarket share away from them. And that changed their mind. How long do you think you'relikely to stay at Tesla?.

As long as I can be useful. And what else is there in termsof potential future projects that piques your interest? You're obviously going tobe quite involved in Twitter if the deal goes through. But you've got Tesla, you'vegot SpaceX, you've got Boring, you've got Neuralink. As you're looking aroundthinking you potentially have capacity,what else is there.

In terms of the kindof, I don't know, betterment of thehuman condition or improving Earththat you feel you might want to turn yourattention to in the future? Well, I'm trying totake the set of actions that I think most likely makethe future good and hopefully not pave the road to hellwith good intentions. So I think Tesla is aboutaccelerating sustainable.

Energy. Because we're obviously asustainable energy future on Earth for us to be good. Then SpaceX is about extendinglife beyond Earth so that we may become amulti-planetary species and with Starlink, providinginternet coverage to the least served in the world. What do you think the nextgoals are then for SpaceX? And do you have a datein mind for when you.

Think they will get to Mars? I think we should be ableto maybe I don't know, get Starship to Mars oncrude in three to five years. And then I think ifthat's successful, then we may be able to senda crewed mission to Mars before the end of the decade. Can I bring us downto Earth gently and ask you about Chinain relation to Tesla?.

Where do you… Sure. How important isthe market for you? Do you think Chinacontributes most of your growth in the future? No, I think China is obviously,a very significant market, that it's probably 25 per centto 30 per cent of our market long-term.

The rest of the worldis probably 3/4 of it. Do you see, I promised Ididn't have any more Twitter questions. But this is sort ofa Twitter question. Do you see any riskat all that China uses your ownershipof Twitter potentially to interfere or block Tesla'soperations in the country? Because obviously Chinahas banned Twitter.

I've seen no indicationto that effect. OK. How close would yousay you are personally to the Chinese government? Because when you set upthe factory in Shanghai, the rules were rewrittenaround joint ventures to allow you to do that.

Well, yeah. I was certainly asked manytimes by the government of China to do a factory in China. I said, well, we're notgoing to do one which is 51 per cent locally-owned. And so if they're willingto change the rules, not just for us,but for everyone, then we would move forward. And so they did.

And I think it's beenvery successful so far. And the government'svery happy about it. And so I don't know. Things are proceedingfairly well. How many other plantsare you expecting to open in Chinain the near future? Well, we're not expecting toopen any additional plants in China in the near future.

We will be expandingour Shanghai factory. But our focus onproduction is going to be on the two new factoriesthat we've recently completed in Berlin and in Austin, Texas. How hard is it asa problem to solve? Because you've made predictionsin the past about autonomy and some of those haven't cometo fruition at the same time. Has your understanding ofthe problem of autonomy changed over the last few years?.

Well, yes. I'd say that self-driving is oneof those things where there are a lot of false dawns or whereyou think you're getting there, but then you end up asymptoting,your progress is initially linear, and thenlooks logarithmic, and sort of tapers off becauseyou're in a local maximum that you did not realise you were in. And at this point, I thinkwe are no longer trapped.

In a local maximum. And obviously, I could be wrong. But I think weare actually quite close to achieving self-drivingat a safety level that is better than human. And it appears, my best guess,is that we will get there this year. But we're reallynot far from it. And like I said, the bestway to assess this is to be.

In our beta programme, or lookat the videos of those who are in the beta programme, andlook at the progress that has occurred. And if the progress is dramatic. And I'm confidentwe will not merely get to the safetylevel of a human, we'll get far in excess ofthe safety level of a human. So I think ultimately,probably a factor of 10 safer than a human as measuredby the probability of injury.

Given where you're tryingto get to with this, the factor above human driving,the potential lives that could be saved withthat, I need to ask you about some of the accidents andfatalities that have happened with vehicles previously. The people who died,do you consider that that was a price worthpaying to get to the level where we want to be to savemore human lives in the future? Well, it is importantto note that,.

And we have never said ever thatthe Tesla autopilot does not require attention. We have always made thatextremely clear repeatedly. You can't even turn iton without acknowledging that it requires supervision. We remind you of that every timeyou turn it on to ad nauseum. So this was not a caseof setting expectations that the car can simplydrive itself in the past and then not meetingthose expectations.

That is completely untrue. Now it is also thecase however, and I knew this would be truefrom the beginning, that people don't,the people whose lives are saved withautopilot or autonomy don't know that theirlives were saved. And so if you aregoing to say deaths, annual automotivedeaths every year is around a millionpeople per year.

Die from automotive accidents,maybe 10 million per year are severely injured. And so with autonomy,the cars driving, it's assisted driving right now. But it will be fullyautonomous in the future. Like I said, those who didn'trealise they would have crashed, or hit a pedestrian, orcyclist, they don't know that. But, so basically,even if you let's.

Say save 90 percent of the people that would otherwise havedied, the remaining 10 per cent who did diewill still sue you. Now but I think it is, inthe grand scheme of things, what is the morallyright decision? And I am a strongbeliever in the enduring, the reality of good overthe perception of good. And I have utter contemptfor those who simply.

Who prefer the perception ofgood over the reality of it. And so we're justgoing to take the heat. But if we believe thatthe probability of injury is reduced, and we arevery confident of that, and but we also knowthat we're going to be sued despitedoing the right thing, we will do the rightthing and get sued. What is Tesla's approach tosmaller and more affordable end of the market?.

You're going to gosmaller than the Model 3. But could you getinto a scooter, micromobility, something else? Scooters are very dangerous. I would not recommendanyone drive a scooter. If there was ever an argumentbetween a scooter and a car, the scooter will lose. Would you ever considerlicencing your platform to other OEMs?.

Presumably, thatwould help switch the industry towards electricmobility in your opinion. Well, we've alreadyopen-sourced all our patents. Anyone can use ourpatents for free. So great. We only patent things inorder to prevent others from creating this minefield ofpatents that inhibit progress with electric vehicles. But several years ago, Icame to the conclusion,.

We're never goingto really prosecute anyone for using our patents. So let's just say you can useany Tesla patents for free. So I think hopefully,that's helpful to others. But I think theregular car industry, the traditional carmakerswill solve electrification. It's not fundamentallydifficult at this point to make electric cars.

The thing that I think theymay be interested in licencing is Tesla autopilotfull self-driving. And I think that wouldsave a lot of lives. But I think we still have wherewe have to prove ourselves for, I don't know, maybeanother year or so. And then, perhaps therewill be some other carmakers who may wish to licenceTesla autopilot. And we'd be very open to that.

Thank you. Of all the other EVstart-ups, which one has impressed you the most? Well, I think the company makingthe most progress besides Tesla is actually VW, whichis not a start-up, but could be viewed insome ways as a start-up from an electricvehicle standpoint. So VW is doing the most onthe electric vehicle front.

I think there will be some verystrong companies coming out of China. There's just a lot of supertalented, hardworking people in China that are, we stronglybelieve in manufacturing. And they won't just beburning the midnight oil. They'll be burningthe 3:00 AM oil. So they won't even leavethe factory type of thing. Whereas in America,people are trying to avoid going to work at all.

You've been critical oflockdowns in the past, particularly when ithappened in the US. Shanghai is currentlylocked down. Most of the westernworld is able to carry on functioning at themoment because of vaccines. But China is going towardsa zero-Covid approach. What do you make of theChinese government's actions? Well, I've hadsome conversations.

With the Chinesegovernment in recent days. And it's clearthat the lockdowns are being lifted rapidly. So I would not expect thisto be a significant issue in the coming weeks. In the past, where I wassort of upset with lockdowns is where those lockdownsdifferentially affected Tesla but not others.

So in the case of Californiaand the Bay Area counties specifically, every othercar factory in North America was allowed tostart, but not Tesla, even though there wasno basis for that. It was simply because wewere located in Alameda County in California. And but they had no rationale. It was arbitrary, andunfair, and that's the reason for why we're quiteupset about kind of Tesla being.

Singled out as the only carcompany in America that wasn't allowed to start even thoughI think our healthcare practises are probablybetter than anyone else. Do you think you'llever wrap all your various operations, Tesla,SpaceX, et cetera, under one umbrella group? Or do you want to keep themseparate for the time being? I think there's sortof separate objectives with differentshareholder bases.

And I think, I don't see a tonneof merit in combining them. At times, thereare people where we have some very talentedpeople who actually are willing to join, butthey want to do things both at SpaceX and Tesla. So for example, we've got oneof the best advanced materials teams in the world. It might be the best, but it'scertainly one of the best.

And a lot of people in thatteam were willing to join, but only if they could workon both rockets and cars. And so it was like, great. Let's do that. And so we can sort of share someof the ideas between rockets and cars, which areobviously not competitive. They're differentcompetitive segments. So if you say like,if somebody is a really incredibletechnologist, innovator,.

Engineer, they want towork on interesting things. So the more interesting, sure. Money is, they couldget money from, anyone would hire themfor a lot of money. So then it's not a money thing. It's really just, howinteresting are the projects? And so there are justa few cases where we can recruit some of thesmartest engineers, scientists, technologists in the world.

But they want to work onboth rockets and cars. And there's a fewcases like that. What do you think isthe next big innovation in personal transportation? Well, I think tunnelsare underrated. Underappreciated. Tunnels will never let you down. Or will they?.

No, but here's thequestion on tunnels. So if you look at,say, for instance, Robert Moses in New Yorkbuilt loads of highways. They were supposedto solve congestion. And all they did wasled to more congestion. How do you avoid tunnelsdoing exactly the same, but just being veryexpensive in the process? I have to say thisnotion of induced demand.

Is one of the singledumbest notions I have ever heardin my entire life. If adding roads justincreases traffic, why don't we delete themand decrease traffic? And I think you'd have anuproar if you did that. The real problem isthat we have not, if you take, saycongested cities, which really almost all largecities are congested,.

You have a fundamentaldimensional problem. You have, say, thesetall buildings, or multi-level buildings, whereyou've got people living in 3D. And then you want to take themin and out of those buildings on a 2D road network. How would you possiblyexpect that to work? So and especially if theyweren't all arrive and depart at roughly the same time. This is just a recipefor traffic, obviously.

So now if you go 3D, which yougo 3D up, or you go 3D down, now you have you'rematching the dimensionality of the buildings. The buildings are 3D. And if the road network,or you could potentially have flying cars,is 3D, then you will completely alleviatethe traffic problem. So think of tunnels not asa single layer of tunnels, but as many layers asyou want, as whatever.

Layer count is necessary to droptraffic to negligible levels. I think it's soobvious this will work. It boggles my mind that peoplewouldn't think it would work. And we've already, we have aproof of concept of this in Las Vegas with a tunnel goingfrom the convention centre to the strip. And that will soon beconnecting all of the hotels and the airport in Las Vegas. And people will just tryit out for themselves.

It's working reallywell already in Vegas. And there was some scepticismamong the county and the city as to whether itwould be effective. And I think the test tunneljust barely succeeded in a vote with the local government inClark County and Las Vegas. But once they saw the initialtest tunnel and rode in it themselves, we got a unanimousvote in favour of expanding it to the whole city. So that shouldtell you something.

Could you ever potentially goin the other direction three dimensionally and lookat VTOLs and potentially flying vehicles? Well, I like the idea of VTOLs. But we already have VTOLsin the form of a helicopter. So but the problem withgoing 3D in the air is that you now have thingsthat make a lot of noise that, and the wind forcethat they generate.

When taking off orlanding is very high. I mean, if you just saylike, look at a little drone. And say, now imagineif that thing was big. What a racket it would make. And how much wind forcewould it generate? And now they're going all overthe place like a giant beehive of super noisy bees. I don't think thisis what people want.

In most of cities,helicopters are actually banned except foremergency purposes because of this reason. So then there's alsothe weather dependency. So if there are high winds,or heavy snow, rain, sleet, now you can't fly. So now you're shut downand can't go anywhere. Then there's the probabilityof something falling on your head ismuch higher if there.

Are all these VTOLsflying all over the city. I mean, I think people's comfortlevel would be quite reduced should someone have perhaps notproperly serviced their flying car and drops awheel on your head. That I think would bediscomforting to most people. And also, having themfly over your backyard, and having strangersstare at you all day is probably alsojust comforting. So I think these areall reasons why I have.

I think VTOLs will not succeed. I deliberately avoidedcalling them flying cars because most of themdon't drive on the road. Is there something goingon that makes you worry about the future of Tesla? Or do you think the companyis now completely secure? No. I think the future ofTesla is extremely strong.

So Tesla has no debt. It has a lot of cash. And there's a sort ofa short-term hiccup with the Covidrestrictions in Shanghai. But to the best of myknowledge, the future of Tesla is incredibly bright. And I think we will throw off atremendous amount of free cash flow. Do you think with yourcash and obviously.

Your market cap at themoment you would ever consider buyinganother carmaker, whether an establishedOEM, or a new business? Well, I think it'shighly unlikely. No. You've obviously done anumber of mining deals trying to secure raw materials. Do you think you could ever goa step further and actually buy.

A mining company in the future? It's not out of the question. We will addresswhatever the limitations are on accelerating the world'stransition to sustainable energy. It's not that we wishto buy mining companies. But if that's the only wayto accelerate the transition, then we will do that.

But there are noarbitrary limitations on what's needed toaccelerate sustainable energy. We'll just tacklewhatever set of things are needed to acceleratesustainable energy. And doing mining, and refining,or buying a mining company, provided, we thinkwe can do, we can change that mining company'strajectory significantly are possibilities. Thank you so much for givingus so much of your time.

Ladies and gentlemen, pleaseshow your appreciation for Elon Musk. Thank you.Elon Musk talks to the FT about Twitter, Tesla and Trump | FT

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