By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- Is there anything that Elon Musk enjoys more than shaming his haters? Here he is at Wednesday's D11 conference, reveling in running one of the few remaining electric car startups, one with stock that just passed the $100 mark, enjoying calling out all those who said it couldn't be done. "Before we were able to get the roadster out, they'd say you couldn't possibly make the car work. When we did, they said: Well, nobody's going to buy it. And people did. Then, when we announced the Model S, so many people called bullshit on that it was ridiculous. We were able to bring it to market, they said we wouldn't be able to produce at volume, we did that, and then they said we would never be profitable, and we did that in Q1. So I'm hopeful that people will observe that there is a trend here." After a pause, the audience cackles and applauds.
Musk went on to consider bending space to allow for faster-than-light travel, Mars settlements, and a rapid transit system called a Hyperloop that is three or four times faster than a bullet train, would never crash, and is immune to weather. No small dreams for this guy. But perhaps the biggest news was the announcement of a rapid expansion of Tesla's Supercharge stations. Soon -- within two-years, he said -- Tesla owners will be able to drive cross-country using Supercharge, filling up a 200-plus mile battery in a little under an hour.
I've written about Tesla (TSLA) and the importance of a rapid-charging network before, mostly to say that, as exciting as the Supercharger is, it's really mostly a marketing tool, a way to alleviate the biggest issue surrounding electric car ownership, which is range anxiety. Musk's announcement feels like a direct rebuke. The company is building a national network! But a national network is overstating things. The ability to drive cross-country in an electric vehicle that's as fast and fun to drive as the Model S is certainly neat. How many people will? Not many, is my guess (though: sign me up!). As several owners of electric vehicle charging companies told me , the Supercharger is a bit of Musk magic: a great add-on to help sell more cars and a way to move the industry forward but by no means a comprehensive piece of EV infrastructure. That, unfortunately, will take time. More time, most likely, than the $30,000 EV Musk promises in three years. By the time all our cities and places in between have enough charging stations to make EV ownership no question at all, Musk will have moved on. To Mars, maybe.
Tesla's founder has suffered setbacks in trying to expand sales of his innovative electric vehicles across the U.S. Don't expect him to stop any time soon.
By Doron Levin
FORTUNE -- The always combative Elon Musk lost a round in his latest bid to sidestep the dealer-franchise system for selling vehicles. He may be down, but he's not out.
Musk, founder and chief executive officer of Tesla (TSLA), was rebuffed last week MOREApr 30, 2013 9:45 AM ET
A 700-mile California road trip in the electric Tesla Model S
By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- The car is fast and smooth: zero to 60 mph in four seconds with none of the rumble of internal combustion. It demands to be driven at high speed, on hilly, winding roads. We tried to oblige. This was a problem.
The plan -- to drive the all-electric Tesla Model S from Los Angeles MOREFeb 6, 2013 5:00 AM ET
Other than in the capital-raising department, Tesla has not succeeded yet.
I think it was the windmills that finally got to me.
I've been merely a passive observer of the Tesla (TSLA) phenomenon. I read Michael Copeland's outstanding cover story in Fortune two years ago. I saw my first Tesla, a fiery red Roadster, only a couple weeks ago. I've never met with the company or heard its pitch.
Then on Tuesday, MOREAdam Lashinsky, Sr. Editor at Large - Jul 1, 2010 8:17 AM ET
By Michael V. Copeland
Maybe Tesla chairman Elon Musk flipped through the "R.I.P. Good Times" slide deck that Sequoia Capital showed its startup CEOs last week about the tough road ahead. Whether he did or didn't, Musk pulled a few pages from it, as he announced Wednesday on the Tesla blog that not only would there be layoffs at the electric car startup, he would be taking over as CEO from MOREMichael V. Copeland, Senior Writer - Oct 15, 2008 6:30 PM ET
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