Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is watching the competition closely — including electric cars from existing manufacturers, and of course, potentially Apple. But he said at Vox Media's Code Conference that he doesn't view Google as a potential competitor.
More clearly, he views that companies that might choose to work with Google as direct competitors to Tesla Motors. "Google's done a great job of showing the potential of autonomous transport, but they're not a car company."
Apple, however, is another matter. There has been a lot of speculation as to whether Apple will produce its own car. Musk was a bit coy on stage, but of course he has more information than most out there — so if he's taking Apple seriously as a competitor, there's a good chance the idea is at least being tossed around.
"Apple, yeah, that'll be more direct," he said.
Musk thinks Apple may have missed an opportunity to aggressively compete with Tesla Motors.
But at the very least, he thinks Apple may have missed an opportunity to get a car out the door that could be aggressively competitive with Tesla Motors. Apple is notoriously secretive about its special projects, but at the very least, it doesn't seem apparent that the company is at all close to even getting close to the process of scaling up production for a car.
"I think they should have embarked on this project sooner," Musk said. "I don't know... They don't share with me the details. I don't think they'll be volume production sooner than 2020. It's a missed opportunity. There's a dozen car companies of significance in the world, the most any company has is approximately 10% market share."
A significant part of that uphill battle comes down to building the manufacturing capability, as well as establishing a strong supply chain. "The sheer scale of automotive manufacturing, it's hard to appreciate until you see the plants," Musk said. That being said, creating and maintaining a strong supply chain has always been one of Apple's strengths — though the rest of the whole process is likely an unknown to the company.
In terms of whether Apple will successfully build a car, Musk was frank: "I hope it works out."
This article by Matthew Lynley originally ran on TechCrunch, a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.