- Elon Musk spoke about banks, self-driving cars, crystal balls, and lithium refineries this week.
- He warned of “stormy weather” ahead and said rate hikes, layoff fears, and bank lending are worries.
- Tesla’s Dojo supercomputer and autonomous tech can supercharge the company’s value, he said.
Elon Musk touched on crystal balls, lithium refineries, self-driving cars, and a potential credit crunch during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.
The Tesla, Twitter, and SpaceX CEO warned of a rough year ahead for the US economy, and explained why rising interest rates, layoff fears, and tighter lending by banks threaten to depress car sales.
Musk also trumpeted Tesla’s Dojo supercomputer platform and self-driving technology as potential game-changers for the company, and predicted gas-powered vehicles will eventually become curiosities, according to a transcript provided by AlphaSense/Sentieo.
Here are Musk’s 10 best quotes, lightly edited for length and clarity:
1. “Stormy weather for about 12 months and then, provided there are no major geopolitical wildcards that show up, that things start getting sunny around spring next year.” (Musk was sharing his outlook for the US economy.)
2. “Man, I wish I had a crystal ball to answer your question. I think we’re in uncertain times. And if somebody got a crystal ball they can lend me, I’d really like to borrow it.”
3. “Every time the Fed raises the interest rates, that’s equivalent to increasing the price of a car. Whenever there is uncertainty in the economy, people will generally postpone big, new capital purchases like a new car. If people are reading about layoffs and whatnot in the press, they might be worried about being laid off. So then they’ll be, naturally, a little more hesitant than they would otherwise be to buy a new car.” (Musk was highlighting two big headwinds for US automakers.)
4. “It’s a bet worth making, but not one you can take to the bank. Although these days, take it to the bank, it’s maybe not as secure as it used to be.” (Musk was discussing Tesla’s Dojo’s supercomputer platform, and nodding to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March.)
5. “Probably banks are not leaning forward in providing loans, I expect, these days.” (Musk was hinting at a possible credit crunch if banks, facing deposit outflows and the prospect of further bank runs, pull back on lending.)
6. “All cars will be EVs. We’ll look back on internal combustion engine vehicles the same way we look back on external combustion engine vehicles like the steam engine. There’s still a few around. They’re kind of quirky and kind of cool collectors’ items. That’s how gasoline cars will be in the future.”
7. “If we’re able to have a fleet of several million vehicles that with a software update can be potentially worth several times their original value … if that happens, and I think it will happen, that will be the biggest asset value increase in history.” (Musk was outlining his vision of eventually rolling out autonomous driving to all Tesla vehicles via a software update, allowing them to serve as robotaxis and generate income.)
8. “The best short-selling argument against Tesla for the longest time was the fact that Tesla did not have an existing fleet. The biggest reason incumbents succeed and newcomers fail in the auto industry is that the incumbents have a large fleet. They’re able to sell new cars at close to zero margin, and then sell spare parts at a very high margin, sort of a razors-and-blades type thing.”
9. “Can other people please do this work? That would be great. We’re begging you. We don’t want to do it. Can someone please? Instead of making a picture-sharing app, try lithium mining and refining, heavy industry, come on.” (Musk was underscoring the unmet need for refined lithium in the EV industry.)
10. “You can’t have too much luck in the rocket business, that’s for sure.”
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