Musk unfazed by “battery breakthroughs”

TeslaMondo Dieter Zetsche as Darth Vader

David the Great and Dieter the Merely Good

Many thanks to a TSLA shareholder named David, who didn’t try to fluff his own feathers at the shareholder meeting Tuesday, but instead asked two very meaty Gigafactory questions, paraphrased here by TeslaMondo. Musk’s answers are verbatim.

Q. What about the threat of a surprise battery breakthrough from a mad scientist somewhere?

A. “There are potential breakthroughs out there, but we have yet to see one — to see even a single example in our lab — of a cell working at the laboratory level, that is better than the one that we have or the ones that we expect to come out with. And so, my response always, when I hear about, um, electro-chemical breakthroughs, is, ‘Please send us a sample cell.’ That usually, well that always, has resulted in nothing coming.”

Q. How quickly could the Gigafactory be re-tooled for new battery composition if needed?

A. “It would be fairly straightforward for us to change the anode or cathode composition. In fact, we expect to evolve the anode and cathode. It’s not merely, ‘What if that happens.’ We expect that to happen.”

Musk’s answers are very reassuring when you remember that in late April, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, also known as “Dr. Z,” told the WSJ he would not invest in the Gigafactory because Tesla’s technology might become stale. He said, “A question is, when do you realistically see the next-generation batteries?” So thank you, David, for extracting these new statements from Musk. They make Zetsche’s rationale for skipping the factory investment look flimsy indeed. But as we’ve pointed out before, Zetsche is sacrosanct. Tesla might have folded if it weren’t for an 11th-hour contract with Zetsche when he headed Daimler/Chrysler, and Daimler still has a four percent stake in TSLA. So while Zetsche’s recent lack of faith is disturbing, belittling him is tantamount to belittling Vader. It’s bad for your windpipe. And besides, he’s yo’ daddy.

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