Chaotic and contentious. That’s how Elon Musk’s earnings call with stock analysts Wednesday is being described in the media.
Musk dissed a couple of stock analysts during the call, deeming their questions about the company’s capital requirements and Model 3 orders to be “dry,” “boring,” and “boneheaded.” He cut off the inquisitors in favor of softer questions not as immediate to the company’s current financial difficulties.
Aside from the first-quarter earnings report and Musk’s analyst attacks, he did offer some thoughts on matters ranging from robots to lawsuits to future products that got lost in all the hubbub. Following are some of his more notable remarks.
On simplicity, and the surprising intelligence of assembly line workers:
“We are seeing ways to achieve improved volume with dramatically less [spending] by simplifying production line, by really engaging all of our associates, no matter how junior, in improving the way that parts are made. It’s amazing how everybody’s got good ideas; you just need to solicit those ideas and implement them.”
On humans, robots and the difference between them:
“We’ve also found that there are some things that are very well suited to manual operation and some things that are very well suited to automated operation, and the two should not be confused.”
On the “Flufferbot,” a robot used in Tesla’s assembly line to apply fluffy insulation to battery packs:
“The Flufferbot … was really an incredibly difficult machine to make work. Machines are not good at picking up pieces of fluff. Human hands are way better at doing that. And so, we had a super complicated machine using a vision system to try to put a piece of fluff on the battery pack.”
On Porsche’s plan to introduce a 350-kilowatt electric car charger, faster than Tesla’s Superchargers:
“Whichever company has the highest rate of innovation — unless that company is actively killed by its competitors in some way that’s nefarious, or shoots itself in the foot — it will at some point exceed those competitors.”
On Nikola Motors’ lawsuit against Tesla, in which the electric truck maker accuses Tesla of stealing its aerodynamic, energy-saving design:
“Laughable … they’re suing us because the way the trucks look, which is absurd. Nobody’s buying a semi truck because of the way it looks.”
On number of orders for the Tesla Semi, the electric big rig that’s not yet in production:
“About 2,000? … I mean, we haven’t really tried to sell the semi. It’s not like there’s like an ongoing sales effort, so sales — orders for semis are like opportunistic, really companies approaching us. Yeah, it’s not something we really think about much. Our focus is on the Model 3.”
On a request for more frequent updates on Model 3 production rates:
An investor “should not be focused on short-term things, you should be focused on long-term things.”
On future products:
“We have, like, way more cool things than we know what to do.”