Elon Musk is an interesting public figure. As the CEO of Tesla, he is often in the spotlight talking about the latest developments in electric vehicle technology. He’s just as often out there defending electric cars and his company in general when critics take issue. He’s outspoken, pulls no punches, and has just thrown one directly in Apple’s face.
He’s a cocky guy, so it’s become commonplace to hear him talking like he’s some real-life Tony Stark. He has the money and the ideas for wonderful things like the Hyperloop that make him an intriguing character. His brain might be amazing, but his mouth is forever getting him in trouble.
Musk was recently interviewed by German newspaper Handelsblatt and he had some rather cutting comments about Apple’s efforts on the car front. “They have hired people we’ve fired,” he said, adding, “If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.” Ouch.
Musk makes light of Apple’s recent successes, like the Apple Watch, suggesting that they need to do something to stay relevant. A company can only release so many new versions of the same product, like the iPad, before innovation ceases to be a part of the conversation. He doesn’t think that Apple moving into cars make any sense because it’s far more complex than just finding a supplier to build one like you can for phones or smartwatches.
He doesn’t take issue only with Apple, but takes a few jabs at German automakers, too. He believes they’re holding on to the past rather than moving forward and embracing new technologies, like electric cars. Musk specifically points to the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal as indicative of the problem.
Rather than innovating, VW willfully cheated. The problem is not only that they broke the law, but what it says about the company’s ability to innovate. He believes the choice to break laws rather than coming up with new technologies that work with the laws shows innovation has taken a backseat. That’s a big problem with the pace at which automotive technology is evolving.
While in Germany, Musk also talked with government officials about the future of vehicles in their country. He’d like to see incentives for those who drive electric vehicles which might hasten innovation on that front, but would also make it much easier for Tesla’s European expansion plans. He better hope he never needs the guys at Apple to help him with his efforts.