Elon Musk Responds to Wall Street Criticism of SolarCity Merger on CNBC

Tesla Motors should have enough cash to get through the closure of the SolarCity merger, CEO Elon Musk said this morning during a CNBC interview.

Tesla has been pressured by investors and analysts recently on whether there will be enough synergy between the electric carmaker and solar energy company to justify the merger. Earlier this week, Tesla responded to critics who felt the company’s proposed acquisition of SolarCity was a poor use of cash, CNBC said.

Tesla will raise more cash on the merger if necessary, but there’s been no immediate need, Musk said during the phone interview.

“There is no explicit reason for us to raise money,” Musk told CNBC. “It may be prudent to raise some capital as a buffer, and to de-risk the business, but we have not decided when that might be.”

The TV interview started with Musk acknowledging advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services for today recommending that investors in Tesla and SolarCity approve of their merger later this month. ISS does see the merger as a necessary step to meet Tesla’s goal of being an “integrated sustainable energy company,” the firm said.

Musk several days ago at a reveal event of Tesla'Solar City's innovative solar roof tile.

Musk several days ago at a reveal event of Tesla’Solar City’s innovative solar roof tile.

Musk was questioned about new solar roof panels customized for homes that he introduced a week ago in Los Angeles. Using a backlot at Universal Studios Hollywood, Musk had stood in front of a movie screen showing a wide range of typical rooftops that the new solar power product can offer homeowners. The new panel can emulate rooftops using clay tiles on a Spanish-style house, shingles on a colonial, or other settings, he said during the presentation.

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During the CNBC interview, Musk said there were initially four solar versions for different types of roofs, but there will be more choices in the future. The benefits of going this route will be bringing energy costs down, it will tie into the look of the roof, and it will be long lasting. He made reference to stained glass windows still standing in European churches that are hundreds of years old.

These new SolarCity panels tied seamlessly into roofs will mean some day that a “normal” roof typically seen now on houses with solar panels will be considered odd.

“Why would you get anything else?” Musk said about the option of buying the new SolarCity panels when they become available next year.

Tesla demonstrated a model home with solar room, and Tesla car and charging products.

Tesla demonstrated a model home with solar room, and Tesla car and charging products.

When questioned about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot system, Musk compared the fatality during the June crash in Florida to three incidents where the Tesla Model S battery packs caught fire about three years ago. During that period, there were about 200,000 car fires in the U.S. and thousands of fatalities in gasoline-engine vehicles that weren’t scrutinized in the media, Musk said.

As for the Autopilot name, Musk said it had been chosen by Tesla in reference to autopilot systems used in aircrafts. Autopilot provides a similar function in Tesla models – to aid the pilot, or driver, and enhance safety, he said.

Wearing his SpaceX chief’s hat, Musk discussed investigation findings on the Falcon 9 explosion that took place September 1. The SpaceX team is satisfied with resolving the problems, and Musk expects to see the next launch sometime in December.

The most anticipated product yet to come – 2018 Model 3. Around 400,000 reservation holders have a place in line for the projected $35,000 and up car with 215 or more miles range.

The most anticipated product yet to come – 2018 Model 3. Around 400,000 reservation holders have a place in line for the projected $35,000 and up car with 215 or more miles range.

Musk was asked to share his perspective on self-driving trucks that will be coming to roads soon. He thinks it will be a few years before they show up. Truck and bus drivers will have the opportunity to change their job functions over from driving to being fleet managers or fleet operators, he said.

They can make sure the trucks are operating properly and safely, and can take over a vehicle with remote control if needed. It’s going to be a more interesting job than driving, Musk said.