Tesla CEO In A War Of Words With Apple

Elon Musk called Apple a “Tesla Graveyard” where his fired employees go to work.

The Tesla CEO, in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt, dismissed the notion that Apple hires top engineers away from his company.

“If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple,” he said in the report published Sept. 25. “I’m not kidding.”

Apple reportedly has set a goal of finalizing an electric car by 2019 and has been hiring car experts since the beginning of the year as part of an effort to build an automated-driving team.

When pressed on whether he took Apple’s auto ambitions seriously, Musk took another shot at the company: “Did you ever take a look at the Apple Watch?”

Musk said that although it is “good” for Apple to invest in autos, he cautioned that cars are much more complex to create when compared with the watches and phones Apple builds.

“You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say, ‘Build me a car,’” Musk said. “For Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.”

Apple declined to comment on Musk’s remarks.

Musk also criticized the German government for not doing enough to support the development of electric vehicles.

“For a very large auto market, Germany has the worst incentives for electric vehicles,” he said. “I think the government is listening too closely to what the big German automakers say. If the big German automakers are wrong, then the wrong thing happens.”

He criticized those automakers as being “too old-school” and not adapting to new technology.

“They’re not accepting the future yet,” Musk said. “Germany needs to move to the next level of technology. The country was a pioneer in internal combustion technology. But if you cling to the past, you won’t get to the future. It’s time to start building a fundamentally new generation of cars.”

Musk pointed to the Volkswagen diesel scandal as a sign that the “limit of physics” has been reached on gasoline and diesel.

“In order to make progress, they apparently had to cheat,” he said. “I think if you intentionally mislead governments around the world with software that is designed to only be effective at the test stand, this is a very conscious action.”

Musk said he does not think Tesla will profit from VW’s woes.

“I don’t think anyone really profits from this kind of situation,” he said. “The best thing that could come out of this is a decision to abandon oil-based transportation — and for Volkswagen to make a very serious move toward electro-mobility.”

Musk said his goal of selling 300 cars per week in Germany is still attainable, despite only selling about 700 cars in the country during the first half of the year.

“A few hundred cars per week is a tiny drop in the bucket for the German auto market,” Musk said. “It is our aspiration to sell more than 1,000 cars a month in Germany. Do I think we’ll get there? Yes.”

Musk said he expects Tesla to be profitable in 2016.

“We wouldn’t slow down our growth for the sake of profitability,” he said.

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