After ruling out any recall of the Tesla Model S sedan following three recent fires, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk pulled out a Titanic analogy Tuesday to describe the attention the media has given to the incidents. And he stood by the Model S safety record.
“Let’s say instead of the Titanic sinking, it smashed through the first iceberg, that second iceberg, and all the passengers disembarked safely and the newspaper headline was ‘Small Kitchen Fire on the Titanic,’” he told the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin during a DealBook conference in New York City on Tuesday afternoon.
WATCH: Elon Musk in action... on his way to build his electric supersonic jet, perhaps? https://t.co/w0uKJuQOtv
â€” marcus baram (@mbaram) November 12, 2013
Musk was describing what happened in the Model S accident in Merida, Mexico, on Oct. 16, in which the car smashed into a wall and skidded on its battery pack before colliding with a median. That fire came two weeks after a Model S hit debris on a highway in Kent, Wash., and caught on fire. Last week a similar incident occurred in Smyrna, Tenn. In all cases the drivers walked away from the accidents and the fires were extinguished.
Musk is on the defensive following what he said has been “extremely unreasonable” scrutiny of the accidents. He points, like many of his supporters, to the numbers that show 250 to 300 fatalities and up to 1,500 injuries related to car fires that occur regularly with scant, if any, media coverage.
“There’s not going to be a recall,” he said, answering rumors that were shuttling around Twitter on Tuesday about a possible recall to bolster the battery pack’s plates. “If there was something that affected safety, we would immediately do a recall.”
Here are some other comments Musk made in the first in-depth interview the CEO has granted since the company filed a disappointing third quarter on Nov. 5:
ON TELSA’S METERORIC STOCK PRICE RISE
“I think the high stock price was somewhat distracting . . . the valuation now is to put a lot of faith in future execution.”
ON MEDIA REPORTS OF GEORGE CLOONEY’S NEGATIVE REMARKS ABOUT THE 2008 TESLA ROADSTER
“The Clooney comment was a needless comment needlessly reported . . . That was five years ago. It’s not really news. I’m not sure why it was even reported. It's like saying my iPhone 1 in 2001 had a bug."
ON INSINUATIONS THAT DEMAND FOR THE MODEL S HAS REACHED ITS PEAK IN THE U.S.
“We’re constrained in the short term with production . . . In the future, all vehicles will be electric, with the sole exception of rockets."
After saying the Boeing 747 is his favorite aircraft, he added: “It is an interesting opportunity to make a supersonic vertical-takeoff jet . . . an electric aircraft.”
ON AUTONOMOUS DRIVNG
The approach that Tesla is taking to driverless cars, Musk said, is "active safety, active cruise control, automatic passing . . . gradually improving active safety to having the car drive itself in almost every scenario . . . It has to be much safer than any person driving a car. It will happen. For it to be truly autonomous, you have to take care of these corner cases. That will be a while, at least more than 10 years, maybe 20 years.”