Elon Musk is unafraid to speak his mind. Whether he's talking about other players in the electric vehicle space or sub-par reporting from The New York Times, this is a man with few filters. To further illustrate this point we need look no further than yesterday's address to an enthusiast crowd at a Tesla service center in Germany.
Speaking about the need for speed in getting out the word about the viability of electric cars and the importance of sustainable transport, Musk said people need to see that EVs are the next step, instead of just thinking we can burn hydrocarbons until they're all gone. And don't get him started on people who convince themselves that fuel cells are a solution. "Oh god, a fuel cell is so bullsh*t", Musk said, before going on a short tangent illustrating his reasons.
"Oh god, a fuel cell is so bullsh*t. Hydrogen is suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars." - Elon Musk
After commenting that the only reason some automakers are pursuing hydrogen technology is for marketing purposes, that lithium batteries are superior mass and volume-wise for a given range, and that fuel cells are too expensive, Musk capped it all off with the safety issue. "Hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas. you know, it's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars," he said.
Of course, the Tesla CEO wasn't in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland just to rag on hydrogen fuel cells. In fact, in light of recent low sales figures in that country, this visit was important to show the company's commitment to that market and in this respect Musk did not disappoint, letting loose a number of cats from the idiomatic bag.
With sales ambitions stretching to 200-300 cars per week by the end of 2014, Musk announced that he was sending over his top engineering team to develop an Autobahn-tuning package that would then be freely offered to existing and future Model S owners. He did not mention exactly what this would entail, but did say it would offer improved high-speed handling. We hope it might also allow for repeated high-speed accelerations without artificial power limiting, as can happen now.
Musk also announced an Autobahn-tuning package.
With higher speeds comes reduced range, so Musk assured the audience that the German Supercharger network, now breaking ground on the first six installations, would be fully installed by the end of 2014. Consisting of between 40 and 50 stations, these stations will allow the entire German population to be within reach of a quick-charge and not have to drive more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) to get to the next. The power from the electron pumps would also be increased to 135 kW – up from today's 120 kW – with further increases in output expected in the future. Other infrastructure improvements include a large investment in Tesla service center locations. The stated goal, by the end of next year, is to have 80 percent of the population within 100 km (62 miles) of a service facility. More details should be released Thursday.
To hear Musk make these pronouncements (and more), scroll below for a video of the proceedings. Feel free to skip ahead to the 16:10-minute mark, though, unless you have excellent German comprehension skills and would like to listen to a summary by a distinguished gentleman seated beside a fine looking bottle of virgin oak whiskey. And if you just want to get to the fuel cell BS line, it comes at around 29:17. Cheers!