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Published on June 4th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


Elon’s Top 7 Statements From Friday’s Tesla Motors Press Conference (Quotations)

Tina already had a great post wrapping up some of the key issues Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk discussed in Friday’s press call (in particular, the Zombie Apocalypse and 4th-generation Tesla car design), and I published an announcement about the greatly expanding Tesla Supercharger network before the call (the main focus of the call). But the whole call was full of interesting tidbits and statements from Elon. Plus, I like using exact quotations as much as possible. So, I listened to it again (and again and again and again — driving my wife crazy) in order to pull out the quotations below. Here they are:


1. Boosting The Supercharger Network Size

“We’re making a dramatic increase in the deployment of our Supercharger network…. We’re not just adding, actually, in terms of geography, we’re increasing the density on well traveled routes. So, on well traveled routes, there’ll probably be a supercharger probably every 80 to 100 miles. And in terms of coverage, we’ll be covering most of the major metros by the end of this year, and moreover, you’ll be able to travel all the way from Los Angeles to New York just using the Supercharger network.”

2. Boosting The Superchargers Themselves

“We’re increasing the maximum charge rate from 90 kW to 120 kW…. If you reference this relative to the standard Model S, which has a 60 kWh pack,… a typical case would be a 2/3 recharge in just over 20 minutes. And what that allows somebody to do is to drive for roughly 3 hours, stop for 20 minutes, grab a bite to eat, some coffee, hit the restroom, whatever the case may be — in other words, it allows people to stop for the normal amount of time they’d stop for anywhere on a road trip.”

“Although the max charge rate is increasing by roughly a third, the actual experience that people will have in a lot of cases is gonna be almost twice as good, because, when we first deployed the supercharger capability, the charge rate would taper quite quickly, so it would charge at the max charge rate only for a short period of time, and then it would rapidly taper off. We’ve been able to improve the supercharger technology in the algorithm to the point where that tapering point occurs much later in the state charge.”

45 minutes. “We expect the average charge rate to drop approximately in half.” Tesla expects to have that rolled out to all supercharger stations in about three months. Right now, the company is doing some beta testing on the superfast new chargers.

3. Just Hit The Lightning Bolt To Find The Nearest Supercharger

Elon also noted a cool feature about finding the Superchargers — you don’t really have to. “On the Model S, if you just tap the lighting bolt on the nav screen, it’ll automatically route you to the nearest Supercharger.”

4. Grid Storage At Supercharger Stations

Elon said he was saving this announcement for a later date, but just went ahead and made it during that call since they’d been having so many announcements lately. Here you go: “We actually have grid storage going on at some of our supercharging stations. So we’ve got stationary battery packs that take in energy through the week from the solar panels…. So the solar panels actually charge the battery pack, and then that stationary battery pack charges the Model S’s. So it’s actually capable of going completely off grid. And this is something we expect to probably roll out to all the supercharging stations.”

5. Zombie Apocalypse

And this is where he got into the Zombie Apocalypse talk that Tina highlighted: “I think something that’s sort of very cool is that these stations will even operate if the national grid goes down. So, you know I was joking with someone, even if there’s, you know, the Zombie Apocalypse — seems to be a popular theme these days — even if there’s a Zombie Apocalypse, you’ll still be able to travel throughout the country using the Tesla Supercharging system, because even if the entire grid goes down, it still going to work. I can see the headlines now: ‘Elon Musk Predicts Zombie Apocalypse.’ ” (The last line noted in a fun, TV voice.)

6. Serious Power

Elon noted that the off-grid systems are “1/2 megawatt-hour” systems, and “capable of putting out a full MW if need be.”

7. Next 3 Vehicles.

In reference to the affordable EV that is supposed to come out following the Tesla Model X, which Tina asked about, Elon said: “We’re just at the early design stages of that vehicle…. would be closer in size to an Audi A4 or BMW 3 series, in terms of external dimensions, but then of course, we have a lot more room in the interior and have a front and a rear trunk as the Model S does, and it would be at an order of magnitude greater volume, so you’d have economies of scale, and it’d be a third design iteration, so we’d have more opportunity to design the car to be easier to manufacture. So those are kind of the obvious elements. So we’ll do at least those things. But, I certainly would like to come up with something in addition to that, but so far we don’t have anything firm on that front.” Following another question from Tina on styling, Elon added: “It’ll be in the same family of the Model S, the Model S and the Model X.”

And he added some notes on the Model X, of course noting its falcon wing doors. “And trying to address with an SUV, with an SUV-sort-of-looking vehicle, a market that is normally covered by both minivan and SUV. So we want greater than minivan functionality, and something with the aesthetics of an SUV, and the performance of a sports car. That’s the goal with the Model X.”

“On that 3rd-gen platform, there’d be a smaller version of the Model X, so it’ll have a smaller sedan and a smaller SUV. Those are kind of the obvious moves on that front.”

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • J_JamesM

    I’m excited for the Tesla mk. lll. The Leaf is sluggish, has low range and takes a long time to charge. The Volt is fun to drive, has good range, but if I’m going to buy something that expensive that plugs in, I’d at least like the satisfaction of leaving gas stations and engine mechanics behind, y’know? And, of course, the Spark EV takes an incredibly short 20 minutes to charge to 80%, is the cheapest of the bunch, has an absolutely OBSCENE amount of torque(more than a Ferrari 458 Italia!), but unfortunately, that doesn’t change either its appalling appearance nor its tight quarters.

    So Tesla it is, then. 200 miles is very, very good, and I’m sure it’ll be nice and spacious inside, not to mention very sporty and fun to drive. Though I can’t say I relish the thought of stopping at one of those supercharger stations with that Freudian monstrosity of an obelisk looming overhead…!

  • justatinker


    It’s that hint about ‘something else’ for Tesla’s Gen III cars that piqued my ears. It’s obviously a technological advancement or direction for Gen III over Model S he’s talking about here.

    My best guess for that technology would be ‘in wheel motors’. This is where the standard wheel hub is replaced with an electric motor. Tires could still be replaced in the usual way so owners wouldn’t notice any difference changing them on the side of a road.

    There’s a lot of advantages to this strategy. The motors themselves would be easy to swap out as well. Match that with an easily replaceable battery pack and you end up with a car where all the high speed, high wear components could be replaced or upgraded in minutes. All the other moving parts of the car are low speed, low wear; doors & hatches, steering mechanism, a few buttons & switches, windshield motors & various pumps. Not only should the ‘ground frame’ (a cars version of ‘air frame’) last a long time, but, like the model S, new battery & motor technology could allow the car’s performance & range improve over time.

    Another advantage is that the owner could chose between two wheel drive, front or rear, or four wheel drive. The car may be sold as a two wheel drive that the owner could upgrade to four wheel drive later. Even with two motors, the car would have an unprecedented ‘engine out’ capability that would let you get to a service center under your own power. Even easier, carry a spare motor and replace it yourself like you would a flat tire. Four wheel drive versions would only lose a little performance with a single motor out.

    Moving the motors out to the wheel hubs also gives that much more room in the car for passengers & cargo, which is all of it!

    I really can’t think of any other way to reduce price radically on the Model S. Gen III be a little smaller, easier to make & improved economies of scale just aren’t quite enough to do the job, I think.


    • justathinker

      Wow, you’re really sold to your idea, aren’t you? Hate to throw a spanner into your wheels, but you might want to google “unsprung mass”.

      • Bob_Wallace

        If you were to google unsprung mass here’s what you would find…

        “A stock 2007 Ford Focus was compared with an identical vehicle modified with 66 lb (30 kg) of ballast fitted to each wheel. The weight was distributed between rotating and nonrotating unsprung masses as to broadly replicate Protean Electric’s PD18 (18-in diameter) wheel-hub-motor unit. The project plan included three phases of analysis and testing.

        Phase 1 focused on modeling of different modifications, including suspension spring, bushing, and damper rates, and different tires and pressures, and their effects on the IWM-equipped vehicle. It was determined that simply fitting a standard Focus ST suspension (an upgrade on the stock base car) would be a good practical solution.

        In phase 2, the stock vehicle was modified with the Focus ST suspension. This setup included revisions to the front and rear spring rates, dampers, and the rear antiroll bar. In phase 3, the Focus with the modified ST suspension was retested. The process included a subjective vehicle assessment, objective ride and handling tests, on-road shake measurements, and two-post shaker rig measurements.

        The studies concluded, and the presenters argue, that while the vehicle carrying the greater unsprung mass at each wheel did display perceptible differences compared with the stock vehicle, those differences were minor and can be mitigated using “normal engineering processes within a product development cycle.”

        By fitting the upgraded ST-level suspension to the car replicating one equipped with Protean PD18 in-wheel motors, the vehicle’s handling and on-center tracking were improved back to reference. Overall, the effort conducted by Protean Electric, Lotus Engineering, and Dunamos may help convince skeptics that the addition of 30 kg of unsprung mass per corner will not adversely impact overall vehicle dynamics and can be addressed fairly easily with cost-effective countermeasures.”

        You also find that Michelin has built an inhub motor system which uses electric motors in place of shocks and deals very nicely with putting extra weight in the wheels.

  • Ross

    Sounds like the next Tesla sedan/saloon is essentially a “Junior executive” car if they’re benching it against the A4/BMW-3 seriers. We’ll have to wait some more for the Tesla’s car for the people although the Nissan Leaf is a good contender for that.

    • Zachary Shahan

      100% agree.

  • George Strong

    Nice quote cull Zachary! Let’s see another article with quotes from today’s annual Tesla Motors shareholder meeting.

    • Zachary Shahan

      unfortunately, i was in the hospital all last week. missed that. :(

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