SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk said yesterday he would stay with the electric car company as long as he was useful amid investor concerns that buying Twitter would distract him from his job at Tesla.
He also said China’s Covid-19 lockdown measures would not be “a significant issue in the coming weeks” at a time when its Shanghai factory is struggling to ramp up production after a suspension last month.
When asked how long he planned to stay at Tesla, he replied, “As long as I can be of use.”
He was speaking at the FT Future of the Car 2022 conference.
In late April, Musk struck a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion in cash in a deal that raised fears the social media platform could draw Musk’s attention away from Tesla, SpaceX and other companies. other companies.
He recently sold $8.5 billion of his Tesla stock and plans to borrow against Tesla stock to help fund the Twitter deal.
Musk is expected to become Twitter’s temporary CEO after the deal closes, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Musk tweeted in December that he was “considering” quitting his job and becoming a full-time influencer, though it was unclear if he was seriously considering quitting.
He also said last July that he had tried “very hard not to be the CEO of Tesla, but I have to do this or frankly Tesla is going to die.”
Musk also said he doesn’t see “a ton of merit in combining” Tesla, SpaceX and other affiliates under one umbrella, saying they have different goals and shareholder bases.
Reuters reported that Tesla operated its Shanghai factory well below capacity earlier this week, after reopening it in late April after a 22-day shutdown.
“I’ve had conversations with the Chinese government over the past few days and it’s clear the lockdowns are being lifted quickly,” he said.
The automaker’s sales in China had already fallen 98% in April from the previous month, according to data released by the China Passenger Car Association, underscoring the blow from China’s harsh Covid-19 lockdowns.
He said Tesla has no plans to open any more factories in China in the near future, adding that it will expand its Shanghai factory.
He said China was an important market, but expected China to be about 30% of Tesla’s total market in the long term.
When asked if China would step in and block Tesla’s operations in the country due to Musk owning Twitter, the billionaire said, “I haven’t seen any indication of this effect.”
He also said Tesla was willing to buy a mining company if needed.
He expects lithium production constraints in about three years, adding that raw materials are one of the issues in meeting his goal of selling 20 million vehicles by 2030, up from less than 1 million the last year.
He said the goal is “an aspiration” not a “promise”.
Musk thinks the biggest constraints to raw materials are the equipment needed to convert raw materials such as lithium, nickel and iron into battery-grade materials, adding that Tesla is working with suppliers to address the issue.
Musk also said that as the owner of Twitter he would lift Donald Trump’s ban, saying the former US president’s expulsion from the platform was “alienating much of the country”.
Musk’s endorsement of a Trump return to the global messaging platform sparked fears among activists that Musk would “open the floodgates of hate”.
“I would reverse the permanent ban,” the billionaire said at the conference, noting that he doesn’t own Twitter yet, so “it’s not like a thing that will definitely happen.”
Trump has publicly stated that he would not return to Twitter if allowed, opting instead to stick to his own social network, which has failed to gain traction.
Trump was kicked off Twitter and other online platforms after supporters inflamed by his tweets and speech alleging voter fraud attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in a deadly attempt to block Joe Biden from being certified winner of the US presidential election.
“I think that was a mistake because it alienated a lot of the country and ultimately didn’t stop Donald Trump from being heard,” Musk said.
Musk argued that the permanent bans undermine trust in Twitter as a public place online where everyone can be heard. –Reuters, AFP