It’s been a hell of a week for Tesla CEO Elon Musk: federal investigations, allegations of drug trafficking, and a tearful interview with the biggest newspaper in the world. So why not cap the week with an interview with popular You Tuber and avowed Tesla fan (and Model S owner) Marques Brownlee to talk Model 3 production, technology, science, and basically everything not having to do with this off-the-rails news cycle.
The interview, which MKBHD promoted as “the most important video probably ever on my channel,” took place August 15th, a week after Musk’s fateful “funding secured” tweet about taking Tesla private. But that tweet, which has since spawned a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, never comes up in the course of the 17-minute video. This conversation isn’t for the investors or the analysts or the journalists, but rather for Tesla’s sizable fanbase, the ones who stick with him through thick and thin. (MKBHD says there will be a part two that includes a tour of Tesla’s Fremont factory.)
Toward the beginning of the 17-minute interview, Musk said he hoped to scale production at Tesla and lower their design and technology costs enough to be able to offer a truly mass-market electric vehicle, perhaps priced as low as $25,000. “That’s something we could do,” he said. “If we work really hard i think maybe we could do that in three years.”
That’s noteworthy since selling an affordable electric car as been the end goal of Tesla’s “Master Plan” all along, and one that has also proven elusive. Right now, Tesla is only producing and selling the pricier all-wheel drive, performance, and longer-range Model 3s. It has targeted the end of 2018 to begin production on the entry-level, $35,000 version. Musk has said the company needs to sell the costlier models so Tesla doesn’t “die.”
In the interview, Musk also expressed a desire to improve production to the point where Tesla can make two cars at once. Currently on the back burner are the crossover Model Y, a Tesla pickup truck, the Semi tractor trailer, and the next generation of the Roadster. The company has only recently begun to make money on the Model 3. “We’ve really gotta figure out how to make two new vehicles at the same time,” he said.
The interview was published at the end of what was one of Tesla’s worst weeks in years, where its share price dropped almost $60 in the chaos following Musk’s surprise plan to take the company private. It also came out just about 24 hours after the New York Times published an interview with Musk where the Tesla CEO detailed how the last year has been “excruciating” for him.
The Times interview set off a storm of responses from industry analysts, and there are reports that Tesla’s board of directors are trying to find a chief operating officer to support Musk at the car company. But Musk does what Musk does, and sitting down with MKBHD to geek out about “track mode” and aerodynamic drag of sideview mirrors, while his position as CEO seems to hang in the balance, seems kind of like the only way for a week like this to end.