Elon Musk has had a big week. He’s launched the world’s most powerful rocket into space, given investors an update on his electric car company, and charted a course for the future of autonomous vehicles. It’s safe to say the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has been feeling the pressure, and so he’s been letting his weirder side shine through in interviews.
The tech entrepreneur has a habit of referencing pop culture and throwing jokes into his products and on his Twitter feed. He built The Boring Company’s funding model around a scene from ‘80s sci-fi comedy Spaceballs — “merchandising!” — and named his Mars-bound space rocket the “BFR,” which contains the words “big” and “rocket.” Even Tesla’s lineup of cars include the Models S, 3 and X, with the Y coming soon.
But in a week that’s seen the Falcon Heavy rocket lift off and Tesla deliver its fourth quarter 2017 earnings, Musk has seen greater media scrutiny than usual. Here’s seven of his best quotes:
7. After that it’s just going to be out there in space for maybe millions or billions of years. Maybe discovered by some future alien race thinking what the heck, what were these guys doing? Did they worship this car? Why do they have a little car in the car? And that’ll really confuse them.
After launching his red Tesla Roadster into space, Musk told reporters at the SpaceX press conference that he expected some alien visitors may have been confused by the whole endeavor.
It gets weirder: the driver seat contains a dummy wearing a spacesuit, nicknamed “Starman.” The in-car sound system is paying David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on loop. A “Don’t Panic” sign on the dashboard references Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, but it’s incredibly unlikely that aliens will understand how any of these things fit together.
6. It’s still trippin’ me out. I mean I’m trippin’ balls here.
We know from the fact that Musk went on to actually finish his SpaceX post-launch press conference that he was probably not, in fact, tripping balls.
Watch the big moment that made Musk trip balls below:
5. I am reminded of – I think it may have been Churchill’s line about sausage. If you like sausage and respect the law, you should watch neither being made, and to some degree that is true of our production ramp.
Musk may have slightly fudged the quote when talking to investors during Tesla’s fourth quarter 2017 earnings call, but it was close enough. Although commonly attributed to Otto Von Bismark, Quote Investigator found it actually originates from American poet John Godfrey Saxe, who said: “laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.”
In this instance, Musk was referencing the media scrutiny around Tesla Model 3 production. The $35,000 electric car launched in July 2017, but the company has struggled to speed up manufacturing in the way that it predicted. The company fell far short of its 20,000 cars per month target in December, producing only 2,425 Model 3s in the enture quarter. Musk would later explain in the earnings call that it’s easier to predict the end production rate rather than plot the acceleration, meaning he was reluctant to repeat his mistake when discussing Semi truck predictions.
In short, Musk would prefer investors to treat Tesla a bit more like a sausage.
4. You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake. We’d have way better CGI if it was fake.
For anyone concerned that the Falcon Heavy launch was an elaborate fake, Musk reassured the press at the SpaceX post-launch conference that if it was fake, it would look a lot better. Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of atmosphere, background colors look far more vibrant and pop out against the foreground.
3. You don’t actually ship people with the Model S. That would be weird. It’s not like tiny people in the car.
Musk thankfully clarified to investors during Tesla’s earnings call that the company has no plans to ship people with its cars. Instead, the company has a team of people working around the car offering support, and Musk thinks that’s how people should also think about the highly-automated Gigafactory building the cars.
2. A friend of mine suggested, ‘Hey, why don’t you put that Hot Wheels Roadster with a tiny spaceman in the car too?’ Like, ‘that’d be cool. Sure.’ So we did that.
Musk gave the SpaceX post-launch press conference an insight into his rigorous decision-making process.
1. It’s rather odd, I was looking at Falcon Heavy and thinking…is it small?
Before launching the world’s most powerful rocket, Musk suggested he was slightly dismayed by the size. Perhaps he would’ve actually been more satisfied if they did make it in CGI.