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  1. Quotes
  2. Elon Musk

“When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”

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Quotes by Elon Musk

  1. A Prius is not a true hybrid, really. The current Prius is, like, 2 percent electric. It’s a gasoline car with slightly better mileage.
  2. A battery by definition is a collection of cells. So the cell is a little can of chemicals. And the challenge is taking a very high-energy cell, and a large number of them, and combining them safely into a large battery.
  3. A company is a group organized to create a product or service, and it is only as good as its people and how excited they are about creating. I do want to recognize a ton of super-talented people. I just happen to be the face of the companies.
  4. A utility can handle up to 20% of production from solar and that helps the grid because it produces electricity when needed. Solar power peaks in the middle of the day and that’s also when air conditioning is running and businesses are operating, so power production matches usage.
  5. America is the spirit of human exploration distilled.
  6. An asteroid or a supervolcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us.
  7. Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.
  8. As you heat the planet up, it’s just like boiling a pot.
  9. Automotive franchise laws were put in place decades ago to prevent a manufacturer from unfairly opening stores in direct competition with an existing franchise dealer that had already invested time, money and effort to open and promote their business.
  10. Biofuels such as ethanol require enormous amounts of cropland and end up displacing either food crops or natural wilderness, neither of which is good.
  11. Boeing just took $20 billion and 10 years to improve the efficiency of their planes by 10 percent. That’s pretty lame. I have a design in mind for a vertical liftoff supersonic jet that would be a really big improvement.
  12. Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.
  13. Even if producing CO2 was good for the environment, given that we’re going to run out of hydrocarbons, we need to find some sustainable means of operating.
  14. Facebook is quite entrenched and has a network effect. It’s hard to break into a network once it’s formed.
  15. For all the supporters of Tesla over the years, and it’s been several years now and there have been some very tough times, I’d just like to say thank you very much. I deeply appreciate the support, particularly through the darkest times.
  16. From an evolutionary standpoint, human consciousness has not been around very long. A little light just went on after four and a half billion years. How often does that happen? Maybe it is quite rare.
  17. Government isn’t that good at rapid advancement of technology. It tends to be better at funding basic research. To have things take off, you’ve got to have commercial companies do it.
  18. Great companies are built on great products.
  19. Here in the West, people often don’t like listening to their leaders, even if they are right.
  20. I always invest my own money in the companies that I create. I don’t believe in the whole thing of just using other people’s money. I don’t think that’s right. I’m not going to ask other people to invest in something if I’m not prepared to do so myself.
  21. I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.
  22. I do think there is a lot of potential if you have a compelling product and people are willing to pay a premium for that. I think that is what Apple has shown. You can buy a much cheaper cell phone or laptop, but Apple’s product is so much better than the alternative, and people are willing to pay that premium.
  23. I don’t create companies for the sake of creating companies, but to get things done.
  24. I don’t spend my time pontificating about high-concept things; I spend my time solving engineering and manufacturing problems.
  25. I don’t think it’s a good idea to plan to sell a company.
  26. I feel very strongly that SpaceX would not have been able to get started, nor would we have made the progress that we have, without the help of NASA.
  27. I had so many people try to talk me out of starting a rocket company, it was crazy.
  28. I hate writing about personal stuff. I don’t have a Facebook page. I don’t use my Twitter account. I am familiar with both, but I don’t use them.
  29. I just want to retire before I go senile because if I don’t retire before I go senile, then I’ll do more damage than good at that point.
  30. I like the word ‘autopilot’ more than I like the word ‘self-driving.’ ‘Self-driving’ sounds like it’s going to do something you don’t want it to do. ‘Autopilot’ is a good thing to have in planes, and we should have it in cars.
  31. I really do encourage other manufacturers to bring electric cars to market. It’s a good thing, and they need to bring it to market and keep iterating and improving and make better and better electric cars, and that’s what going to result in humanity achieving a sustainable transport future. I wish it was growing faster than it is.
  32. I say something, and then it usually happens. Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens.
  33. I tend to approach things from a physics framework. And physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy.
  34. I think Tesla will most likely develop its own autopilot system for the car, as I think it should be camera-based, not Lidar-based. However, it is also possible that we do something jointly with Google.
  35. I think a lot of the American people feel more than a little disappointed that the high-water mark for human exploration was 1969. The dream of human space travel has almost died for a lot of people.
  36. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.
  37. I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.
  38. I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.
  39. I think life on Earth must be about more than just solving problems… It’s got to be something inspiring, even if it is vicarious.
  40. I think long term you can see Tesla establishing factories in Europe, in other parts of the U.S. and in Asia.
  41. I think most of the important stuff on the Internet has been built. There will be continued innovation, for sure, but the great problems of the Internet have essentially been solved.
  42. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.
  43. I think the high-tech industry is used to developing new things very quickly. It’s the Silicon Valley way of doing business: You either move very quickly and you work hard to improve your product technology, or you get destroyed by some other company.
  44. I think there are more politicians in favor of electric cars than against. There are still some that are against, and I think the reasoning for that varies depending on the person, but in some cases, they just don’t believe in climate change – they think oil will last forever.
  45. I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.
  46. I think we have a duty to maintain the light of consciousness to make sure it continues into the future.
  47. I think you should always bear in mind that entropy is not on your side.
  48. I usually describe myself as an engineer; that’s basically what I’ve been doing since I was a kid.
  49. I was born in Africa. I came to California because it’s really where new technologies can be brought to fruition, and I don’t see a viable competitor.
  50. I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.
  51. I would like to fly in space. Absolutely. That would be cool. I used to just do personally risky things, but now I’ve got kids and responsibilities, so I can’t be my own test pilot. That wouldn’t be a good idea. But I definitely want to fly as soon as it’s a sensible thing to do.
  52. I wouldn’t say I have a lack of fear. In fact, I’d like my fear emotion to be less because it’s very distracting and fries my nervous system.
  53. I’d like to dial it back 5% or 10% and try to have a vacation that’s not just e-mail with a view.
  54. I’m a Silicon Valley guy. I just think people from Silicon Valley can do anything.
  55. I’m anti-tax, but I’m pro-carbon tax.
  56. I’m glad to see that BMW is bringing an electric car to market. That’s cool.
  57. I’m interested in things that change the world or that affect the future and wondrous, new technology where you see it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, how did that even happen? How is that possible?’
  58. I’m personally a moderate and a registered independent, so I’m not strongly Democratic or strongly Republican.
  59. I’m reasonably optimistic about the future, especially the future of the United States – for the century, at least.
  60. I’m trying to construct a world that maximises the probability that SpaceX continues its mission without me.
  61. I’ve actually made a prediction that within 30 years a majority of new cars made in the United States will be electric. And I don’t mean hybrid, I mean fully electric.
  62. I’ve actually not read any books on time management.
  63. I’ve been to Disneyland, like, 10 times. I’m getting really tired of Disneyland.
  64. If anyone has a vested interest in space solar power, it would have to be me.
  65. If anyone thinks they’d rather be in a different part of history, they’re probably not a very good student of history. Life sucked in the old days. People knew very little, and you were likely to die at a young age of some horrible disease. You’d probably have no teeth by now. It would be particularly awful if you were a woman.
  66. If humanity doesn’t land on Mars in my lifetime, I would be very disappointed.
  67. If something’s important enough, you should try. Even if you – the probable outcome is failure.
  68. If we could do high-speed rail in California just half a notch above what they’ve done on the Shanghai line in China, and if we had a straight path from L.A. to San Francisco, as well as the milk run, at least that would be progress.
  69. If we drive down the cost of transportation in space, we can do great things.
  70. If we’re going to have any chance of sending stuff to other star systems, we need to be laser-focused on becoming a multi-planet civilisation.
  71. If you don’t have sustainable energy, you have unsustainable energy. The fundamental value of a company like Tesla is the degree to which it accelerates the advent of sustainable energy faster than it would otherwise occur.
  72. If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.
  73. If you go back a few hundred years, what we take for granted today would seem like magic – being able to talk to people over long distances, to transmit images, flying, accessing vast amounts of data like an oracle. These are all things that would have been considered magic a few hundred years ago.
  74. If you had to buy a new plane every time you flew somewhere, it would be incredibly expensive.
  75. If you look at our current technology level, something strange has to happen to civilisations, and I mean strange in a bad way. And it could be that there are a whole lot of dead, one-planet civilisations.
  76. If you look at space companies, they’ve failed either because they’ve had a technical solution where success was not a possible outcome, they were unable to attract a critical mass of talent, or they just ran out of money. The finish line is usually a lot further away than you think.
  77. If you think back to the beginning of cell phones, laptops or really any new technology, it’s always expensive.
  78. If you want to grow a giant redwood, you need to make sure the seeds are ok, nurture the sapling, and work out what might potentially stop it from growing all the way along. Anything that breaks it at any point stops that growth.
  79. If you’re trying to create a company, it’s like baking a cake. You have to have all the ingredients in the right proportion.
  80. In order for us to have a future that’s exciting and inspiring, it has to be one where we’re a space-bearing civilization.
  81. In order to have your voice be heard in Washington, you have to make some little contribution.
  82. In the case of Apple, they did originally do production internally, but then along came unbelievably good outsourced manufacturing from companies like Foxconn. We don’t have that in the rocket business. There’s no Foxconn in the rocket business.
  83. In the early days of aviation, there was a great deal of experimentation and a high death rate.
  84. It is definitely true that the fundamental enabling technology for electric cars is lithium-ion as a cell chemistry technology. In the absence of that, I don’t think it’s possible to make an electric car that is competitive with a gasoline car.
  85. It is theoretically possible to warp spacetime itself, so you’re not actually moving faster than the speed of light, but it’s actually space that’s moving.
  86. It would take six months to get to Mars if you go there slowly, with optimal energy cost. Then it would take eighteen months for the planets to realign. Then it would take six months to get back, though I can see getting the travel time down to three months pretty quickly if America has the will.
  87. It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.
  88. It’s important that we attempt to extend life beyond Earth now. It is the first time in the four billion-year history of Earth that it’s been possible, and that window could be open for a long time – hopefully it is – or it could be open for a short time. We should err on the side of caution and do something now.
  89. It’s not as though we can keep burning coal in our power plants. Coal is a finite resource, too. We must find alternatives, and it’s a better idea to find alternatives sooner then wait until we run out of coal, and in the meantime, put God knows how many trillions of tons of CO2 that used to be buried underground into the atmosphere.
  90. It’s obviously tricky to convert cellulose to a useful biofuel. I think actually the most efficient way to use cellulose is to burn it in a co-generation power plant. That will yield the most energy and that is something you can do today.
  91. Land on Mars, a round-trip ticket – half a million dollars. It can be done.
  92. Life is too short for long-term grudges.
  93. Mars is the only place in the solar system where it’s possible for life to become multi-planetarian.
  94. My background educationally is physics and economics, and I grew up in sort of an engineering environment – my father is an electromechanical engineer. And so there were lots of engineery things around me.
  95. My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars.
  96. My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars – this is very important – so you don’t have to carry the return fuel when you go there.
  97. Nobody wants to buy a $60,000 electric Civic. But people will pay $90,000 for an electric sports car.
  98. Obviously Tesla is about helping solve the consumption of energy in a sustainable manner, but you need the production of energy in a sustainable manner.
  99. Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence.
  100. Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.
  101. People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.
  102. People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.
  103. Physics is really figuring out how to discover new things that are counterintuitive, like quantum mechanics. It’s really counterintuitive.
  104. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.
  105. Rockets are cool. There’s no getting around that.
  106. Self-driving cars are the natural extension of active safety and obviously something we should do.
  107. Selling an electric sports car creates an opportunity to fundamentally change the way America drives.
  108. Silicon Valley has evolved a critical mass of engineers and venture capitalists and all the support structure – the law firms, the real estate, all that – that are all actually geared toward being accepting of startups.
  109. Silicon Valley has some of the smartest engineers and technology business people in the world.
  110. So we originally expected to make about 35 gigawatt hours at the cell level and about 50 gigawatt hours at the module or pack level. Now we are expecting to do about 150 gigawatt hours in the same volumetric space as the original design.
  111. Some companies out there quote a start of production that is substantially in advance of when customers get their cars.
  112. Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.
  113. SpaceX has the potential of saving the U.S. government $1 billion a year. We are opposed to creating an entrenched monopoly with no realistic means for anyone to compete.
  114. SpaceX is only 12 years old now. Between now and 2040, the company’s lifespan will have tripled. If we have linear improvement in technology, as opposed to logarithmic, then we should have a significant base on Mars, perhaps with thousands or tens of thousands of people.
  115. Stationary storage will be as big as the car business long term. The growth rate will probably be several times what it is for the car business.
  116. Tesla is becoming a real car company.
  117. Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution.
  118. The U.S. automotive industry has been selling cars the same way for over 100 years, and there are many laws in place to govern exactly how that is to be accomplished.
  119. The United States is definitely ahead in culture of innovation. If someone wants to accomplish great things, there is no better place than the U.S.
  120. The factory is the machine that builds the machine.
  121. The fuel cell is just a fundamentally inferior way of delivering electrical energy to an electric motor than batteries.
  122. The future of humanity is going to bifurcate in two directions: Either it’s going to become multiplanetary, or it’s going to remain confined to one planet and eventually there’s going to be an extinction event.
  123. The goal of Tesla is to accelerate sustainable energy, so we’re going to take a step back and think about what’s most likely to achieve that goal.
  124. The lessons of history would suggest that civilisations move in cycles. You can track that back quite far – the Babylonians, the Sumerians, followed by the Egyptians, the Romans, China. We’re obviously in a very upward cycle right now, and hopefully that remains the case. But it may not.
  125. The odds of me coming into the rocket business, not knowing anything about rockets, not having ever built anything, I mean, I would have to be insane if I thought the odds were in my favor.
  126. The pace of progress on Mars depends upon the pace of progress of SpaceX.
  127. The path to the CEO’s office should not be through the CFO’s office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design.
  128. The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You’re encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly, it allows you to keep people who aren’t that smart, who aren’t that creative.
  129. The reality is gas prices should be much more expensive then they are because we’re not incorporating the true damage to the environment and the hidden costs of mining oil and transporting it to the U.S. Whenever you have an unpriced externality, you have a bit of a market failure, to the degree that eternality remains unpriced.
  130. The reason we should do a carbon tax is because it’s the right thing to do. It’s economics 101, elementary stuff.
  131. The revolutionary breakthrough will come with rockets that are fully and rapidly reusable. We will never conquer Mars unless we do that. It’ll be too expensive. The American colonies would never have been pioneered if the ships that crossed the ocean hadn’t been reusable.
  132. The rumours of the demise of the U.S. manufacturing industry are greatly exaggerated.
  133. The space shuttle was often used as an example of why you shouldn’t even attempt to make something reusable. But one failed experiment does not invalidate the greater goal. If that was the case, we’d never have had the light bulb.
  134. The value of beauty and inspiration is very much underrated, no question. But I want to be clear: I’m not trying to be anyone’s savior. I’m just trying to think about the future and not be sad.
  135. There are really two things that have to occur in order for a new technology to be affordable to the mass market. One is you need economies of scale. The other is you need to iterate on the design. You need to go through a few versions.
  136. There are some important differences between me and Tony Stark, like I have five kids, so I spend more time going to Disneyland than parties.
  137. There have only been about a half dozen genuinely important events in the four-billion-year saga of life on Earth: single-celled life, multicelled life, differentiation into plants and animals, movement of animals from water to land, and the advent of mammals and consciousness.
  138. There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future? If the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multi-planet species, I find that incredibly depressing.
  139. There’s a silly notion that failure’s not an option at NASA. Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.
  140. There’s nothing – I’ve bought everything I want. I don’t like yachts or anything; you know, I’m not a yacht person, and I’ve got pretty much the nicest plane I’d want to have.
  141. To make an embarrassing admission, I like video games. That’s what got me into software engineering when I was a kid. I wanted to make money so I could buy a better computer to play better video games – nothing like saving the world.
  142. Trying to read our DNA is like trying to understand software code – with only 90% of the code riddled with errors. It’s very difficult in that case to understand and predict what that software code is going to do.
  143. We could definitely make a flying car – but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is, how do you make a flying car that’s super safe and quiet? Because if it’s a howler, you’re going to make people very unhappy.
  144. We polled Tesla owners, do you want autopilot disabled or not. Not one person wanted it disabled. That’s pretty telling.
  145. We’re running the most dangerous experiment in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere… can handle before there is an environmental catastrophe.
  146. What I’m trying to do is, is to make a significant difference in space flight. And help make space flight accessible to almost anyone.
  147. What most people know but don’t realize they know is that the world is almost entirely solar-powered already. If the sun wasn’t there, we’d be a frozen ice ball at three degrees Kelvin, and the sun powers the entire system of precipitation. The whole ecosystem is solar-powered.
  148. When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.
  149. When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world.
  150. When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.
  151. Winning ‘Motor Trend’ Car of the year is probably the closest thing to winning the Oscar or Emmy of the car industry.
  152. With DNA, you have to be able to tell which genes are turned on or off. Current DNA sequencing cannot do that. The next generation of DNA sequencing needs to be able to do this. If somebody invents this, then we can start to very precisely identify cures for diseases.
  153. Yeah, well I think anyone who likes fast cars will love the Tesla. And it has fantastic handling by the way. I mean this car will crush a Porsche on the track, just crush it. So if you like fast cars, you’ll love this car. And then oh, by the way, it happens to be electric and it’s twice the efficiency of a Prius.
  154. You could warm Mars up, over time, with greenhouse gases.
  155. You need to be in the position where it is the cost of the fuel that actually matters and not the cost of building the rocket in the first place.
  156. You need to live in a dome initially, but over time you could terraform Mars to look like Earth and eventually walk around outside without anything on… So it’s a fixer-upper of a planet.