Chevy aimed a shot across Tesla's bow with the Chevy Bolt a family-sized concept car unveiled at the first press conference of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. But Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk doesn't seem worried.
At the , Musk dropped bombshells about the Bolt vs. Model 3 competition, his views on hydrogen fuel cells, and even predictions about his own future as CEO of the electric carmaker.
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Does the Chevy Bolt, promised to cost $30,000 and boast 200 miles of range, present a challenge to Tesla's $35,000 Model 3? Not from where Musk's standing.
Musk points out that Chevy's claimed $30,000 price tag assumes the $7500 federal tax incentive for zero-emissions cars, putting the vehicle's true price at $37,500. The Model 3, Musk insists, will come in at $35,000 before any incentives, meaning buyers will only be on the hook for $27,500. And that's before any additional state-based incentives.
Of course, this is all just talk right now. Chevy promises the Bolt will arrive as a 2017 model, but all we've seen so far is a single concept car. However, that's one more tangible example than Tesla has created–the Model 3 is just a thought at this point, and the electric carmaker has already delayed its long-promised Model X crossover twice–though Musk revealed last night that the entire first-year run of the Model X is sold out. Anyone hoping to cross-shop a Model 3 with a Chevy Bolt has plenty of time to save up.
The next topic of his scorn was the concept of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like the Honda FCV Concept unveiled at the show this week. "I just think that they're extremely silly," . "They're very difficult to solve and extremely inefficient [. . . ] It's terrible. Why would you do that? It makes no sense. You can't tell when it's leaking. It's extremely flammable. If you're going to choose an energy, it's a dumb one to pick."
Other big promises? Musk says Tesla will be "first to market" with autonomous driving features, though he believes automakers will have to prove self-driving systems are ten times safer than humans before they'll hit public roads.
In order to expand capacity, Musk says the Tesla will need to establish assembly plants in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. East Coast. Could such a factory end up in Detroit? "Maybe if they let me sell cars here," Musk deadpanned.
Musk was referring to laws in Michigan, Arizona, New Jersey, and Texas, which prohibit the direct-to-consumer auto sales model Tesla currently uses. , Musk hinted that Tesla could move to the traditional franchise dealership model the automaker has so far eschewed—so long as those dealerships give customers "an awesome experience." He also promised that the tiny electric car company would be cranking out "a few million cars" by 2025, putting it eye-level with BMW in terms of production and far surpassing the company's 2014 production tally of just 33,000 units.
For most folks, it's impossible to think of Tesla Motors without Musk at the helm. The billionaire says he intends to stay with the company for life, staying on as CEO at least through the introduction of the Model 3. However, he said if the Nevada Gigafactory fails to drive down battery costs, "I should definitely be fired."