Tesla Gives Progress Report From Norway

Tesla has been credited by former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz as provoking GM to build the Chevy Volt, and from a town-hall event this week in Norway, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says he hopes for more of the same.

Not necessarily to build a Volt, mind you, as Musk has called less than pure EVs “amphibians,” but he and CTO JB Straubel said while Tesla’s 30,000-unit annual volume comprises “less than 0.1 percent” of global automotive production, Tesla will have an outsized influence.

“I think the biggest effect that Tesla will have will be to spur the other manufacturers to create create compelling electric cars … to go electric sooner than they otherwise would,” said Musk as quoted in a Forbes’ article yesterday. “We hope the big car companies do copy Tesla. When you consider what is the fundamental good Tesla will achieve, it’s getting the rest of the car industry to move toward sustainable transport faster. I don’t know why they’re taking so long.”

Other notable statements include Tesla has many goals going on all at once, but it is mindful not to try and play too big of a juggling act.

“The biggest challenge for Tesla is trying to figure out focus,” said Musk, “We’re a small company … If we want to add something to the plate, then something else has got to come off. The most critical thing is ensuring we make super-reliable electric cars that can go wherever people want. That’s what we’re focused on.”

What are some of those goals? Most of these you may have already heard of, including the “Gen 3” sedan which Musk at this point says looks like 2017 will be its year.

Also, he did not confirm when Tesla’s “Giga Factory” would be completed, but said its production volume of 30 giga-watt-hours per year will exceed that of Taiwan, China and Korea in 2012 – enough for 400,000 vehicles – and Musk said they are thinking bigger than that.

“I can certainly see the potential for Tesla to be making millions of electric cars,” he said of its future.

Musk and Straubel also said they’ll produce a white paper demonstrating that EVs are not so energy intensive to produce – as a counterpoint to critics – and the aim is to prove EVs compete well with gas cars.

“The energy payback driving the Model S happens quite quick,” Straubel said. “How many miles do you have to drive it? … Less than 10,000.”

Tesla also plans its “autopilot” feature in the works will not be fully autonomous so a driver could go to sleep in a moving car, but it will be a computerized system that does most functions –and these will be able to be over-ridden by the driver.

As for infrastructure, Musk said battery swapping is about ready to deploy in California, and plans of course for Superchargers are still well underway.

“The goal we want to reach: you never have to worry about it ever. We’ll get that as fast as we can,” said Straubel adding: “It’s not something where we plan to finish it [anytime soon.] It’s going to keep getting better and better over time. We’ll keep investing in it… for as long as it makes sense.”

Forbes said it is worth noting that while a federal investigation continues, no Tesla cars have caught fire in the past three months despite around 6,000 new Tesla adding to the total.