Tesla's Elon Musk Bets $1 Million (for Charity) that Model S Will be Ready on Time


The Model S electric sedan, schedule for a late 2012 release. Photo: Tesla Motors

It'll be there in late 2012, I swear!

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX and the chairman of SolarCity, has made a $1 million bet with auto journalist Dan Neil (well, Neil is only betting $1,000, so it's an asymmetric bet). The dispute is about the timing of the Model S electric sedan's production and commercialisation. Read on for more details.


Elon Musk in Detroit in front of an electric Tesla Roadster. Photo: Michael Graham Richard

From Green Car Reports, here are the requirement for the bet to be won by Elon Musk:

(1) Series production models of the Tesla Model S have to be delivered to paying customers before the end of 2012. (It was originally 2011, but Neil concedes that Tesla said it wouldn't make that date fairly early, and has since stuck to its 2012 date.)

(2) The Model S has to have seven passenger seats, certified as such by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and earn a 4- or 5-star safety rating from the NHTSA.

(3) It has to have a battery pack that allows en-route swapping at a highway roadside station, similar to the Better Place battery swapping scheme.

(4) Model S prices must remain at the levels Tesla and Musk announced: $57,400 for the version with 160 miles of range, $67,400 for the 230-mile version, and $77,400 (was $87,400, corrected) for the top-of-the-line 300-mile version (which will comprise the bulk of early production). All prices are before any Federal or other incentives.

If Tesla misses any one of those targets, Neil says, he wins the bet and Musk must donate $1 million to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

But if Tesla does what it said it will, Neil loses, and--being a journalist, not a multimillionaire entrepreneur--he will donate $1,000 to the same group.

Since all the money is going to charity, I'm hoping that Tesla misses its target, if only by a few months. But the size of the bet does show the level of confidence that Elon must have in Tesla's production of the new electric sedan. After all, Elon is very rich because of the businesses he owns, but as was recently in the papers for other more personal reasons, he is rather cash poor (in other words, almost all of his money is in illiquid investments), so $1m would hurt.


Photo: Michael Graham Richard


Photo: Michael Graham Richard

Via Green Car Reports

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