Entrepreneurs

Elon Musk: Tesla's work 'supersedes political parties, race, creed, religion'

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils large utility scale home batteries at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California.
David McNew | AFP | Getty Images
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils large utility scale home batteries at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne, California.

The political divide between Democrats and Republicans in the United States has become particularly divisive ahead of the midterm elections Tuesday.

However, according to Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the work he is doing with Tesla and its role in advancing sustainable transportation is more important than politics — or just about anything else.

It's "very important for the future of the world," Musk told Recode's Kara Swisher in an interview Wednesday at Tesla's Palo Alto, California headquarters. "It's very important for all life on Earth.

"This supersedes political parties, race, creed, religion, it doesn't matter. If we do not solve the environment, we're all damned," Musk said.

It is for that reason that Musk and his team have put forth an "excruciating effort," he said, often working over a hundred hours a week in order to ramp up production of Tesla's Model 3 vehicle, which had fallen behind.

"The other option would have been, Tesla dies," Musk told Swisher.

"Tesla cannot die. Tesla is incredibly important for the future of sustainable transport and energy generation. The fundamental purpose, the fundamental good that Tesla provides, is accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy production."

Electric vehicles reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change. In October, the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report saying that limiting global warming "would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."

According to Musk, without Tesla there would still be a transition to sustainable energy, but it would take much longer. "History will judge this, obviously, but I would say on the order of 10 years, maybe 20 years," he said. "This could be all the difference in the world."

Now, Tesla is "doing pretty well," said Musk, despite its Model 3 production issues.

"Tesla's not staring death in the face. We're in, I think, a pretty good position," Musk said. "Up until around September, we were really faced with ... 'We're gonna die,' constantly. I feel like we're no longer in the staring-death-in-the-face situation."

Musk himself previously stepped into the political arena when he joined three advisory councils on business, manufacturing jobs and infrastructure for President Donald Trump in December 2016. Musk withdrew from the councils in June 2017, however, when Trump backed out of the Paris climate accord, a 2015 agree among various world leaders to fight climate change. ("I did my absolute best," Musk told Swisher of the councils.)

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