When we created Tesla we wanted to show that you could make a really compelling electric car. That you could make an electric car that was really better than a petrol car and I think with the Model S we've been able to achieve that it. It's been rated by some of the most critical reviewers in the world as among the best and by some the best car in the world.
Over 11 years, wow, that's a lot of challenges. The biggest challenge that Tesla faced was not going bankrupt in 2008, with the global financial crisis. Ya know, General Motors and Chrysler went bankrupt and we narrowly avoided bankruptcy thanks to a dedicated group of employees and investors. That was probably our most difficult moment. In the creation of this car in particular, I suppose the most challenging thing was to create a super safe car that had great performance and yet had great range as well. The car's got a 265 mile range, despite being a luxury sedan with transmatic capability.
I think Tesla gets a lot of attention, positive and negative. I guess it's a bit of live by the sword, die by the sword. Everything we do seems to be amplified. There was the whole sorta fire thing, which, even though the Model S has an incidence of fire which is five times less than the automotive industry, in fact, I think it's maybe the least fire-prone car on the market, last year it got more press than the other 500,000 gasoline car fires combined. Even though we've never had an injury - I mean, touch wood - we've never had a serious permanent injury in any of our cars, ever. Nobody's died. Nobody's had a permanent injury in any of our cars, ever. Ya know, I think there's still some perception that our car is somehow not safe. Even though it's actually the safest car on the road.
[Question about incumbents taking swipes.] Some of them do take swipes, yeah. I suppose that's natural for competitors. I think the truth wins out in the end, particularly these days with the Internet. People are able to search and compare, and with five minutes of research you can get to the truth very quickly.
I really care about Tesla and about the Model S and everything, so it's hard to be dispassionate about that. It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears from a lot of people and, you know, I think particularly if the criticism isn't accurate. It's sort of like, the Model S, it's like your child. Let's say your child goes into a competition and loses, but not on the merits, then you'd be pretty angry about that. Or if somebody disparages your child in a way that's false. There are honest criticisms to be had, certainly, but it's difficult to take false criticism of something you care about.
"Governments around the world certainly make a lot of noise about caring about the environment but the results are not very good." Particularly in automotive. Much less than 1% of new cars made every year are electric. This year there'll be 90-something million cars made, so round it off, say 100 million new cars made a year, there's about two billion cars in the global fleet. Even if all new cars went to electric this year, it would take 20 years to replace the global fleet. Much less than 1% of new cars made this year are electric. Clearly, we need stronger action.
I think all governments need to do more. American government, and UK government. I know they keep sort of talking about it. Really, the action needs to be ratcheted up until we see solid movement toward electric cars. How about at least 1% of cars being made are electric? That seems like a very low bar.
[Question about cost.] Well, this particular configuration - they start at 50,000 pounds, this has probably got lots of options and thing. The goal of Tesla is to create mass market electric cars but we can only get there one step at a time. We started off with the Roadster, our sports car, that was even more expensive and at very low volume. Now we're at step two, which you could argue is more of a mid-price, mid-volume car, but we need to sell this car in order to make the money for the high volume affordable car in the future. Ya know, we can't think of any other way to get there. It's about three years away we think.
People like cars, clearly. That's their chosen method of getting around. So, we have to adapt to what people want to do. That's not to the exclusion of something like the Hyperloop or mass transit, but it's complementary certainly. So, we've got to make electric cars I think.
[Question about SpaceX.] SpaceX was about a year earlier. With SpaceX, the goal is to accelerate the development of rocket technology. If you think about the fact that humanity was able to go to the moon in 1969, and now can sort of barely get to low Earth orbit, that's a huge decline in capability. What we'd like to do with SpaceX is to try to turn that around, and rapidly improve rocket technology to the point where, maybe ultimately, we can have a city on Mars, and be a multi-planet species. I'm not saying SpaceX is going to do all that, but we're going to try to advance rocket technology as much as we can in that direction.
Right now we're launching quite a lot of satellites into orbit for various commercial customers. NASA's our single biggest customer, and they're about a quarter of our launches. We've done missions to and from the space station with cargo, including live cargo in some cases. Our next mission to the space station will include 40 mice - so, 'the mousetronauts' - and it has the ability to maintain life support systems and everything. We'll be launching astronauts in about two years and keep going on from there.
Well I think what were doing at SpaceX is certainly in collaboration with NASA. NASA's been a big supporter, and I'm not sure we could've really gotten where we are today without NASA. But in general, commercial technology companies are better at advancing technology than governments. Particularly once it gets out of the fundamental research phase. And that's sort of what SpaceX hopes to be - to really drive the technology development a lot faster than it would occur otherwise, if it was just sort of a big government endeavor.
Well, there's not many asteroids between here and Mars that are of any size. After the Moon, you're either going to go to a very small asteroid, or Mars. The big asteroids are between Mars and Jupiter. [Is there a rough date for the Mars landing?] About 11 or 12 years.
[Question about privatization of Space] Do you mean Mars? Well, I think in order to create a self-sustaining city on Mars, you've gotta make it as affordable as possible to go there. Otherwise you won't get enough people. So I think you've got to get the cost of moving to Mars, roughly equivalent to a middle class home, and then there'll be enough people who want to sell their house and move to Mars. That's sort of the key threshold for it to become a self-sustaining.. 'colony' if you will. Kind of like the English colonies in the Americas - which started out with a lot of sort of, basically, rich people and the British government sponsoring people to go over, but eventually, you know, anyone could go over.
We're pretty different from Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic is sort of more oriented more towards entertainment, you know, in having a quick-fun ride. SpaceX is sort of more, Martian colonization, whereas Virgin Galactic, at least in its initial efforts is sort of trying to give you kind of five minutes of weightlessness. So it's a different thing.
[Question about Tony Stark.] Not really, no. No, I mean, I think of myself as an engineer really. Try to create new technology that's important, but fun and cool at the same time.