Intriguing discussions of lawsuits, five-year goals, and Tesla’s Autopilot system dominated the third installment of Musk’s exclusive interview with Autonews.
Firstly, the Tesla CEO disclosed some shocking details regarding its recent lawsuit against Rivian, an American electric vehicle manufacturer. Musk claims that without a doubt, Rivian was poaching employees in a bid to get hold of intellectual property from Tesla.
Details of the lawsuit have been made public and state that former Tesla employees unlawfully shared highly classified information with Rivian after leaving Musk’s company. Tesla’s complaint states, “Misappropriating Tesla’s competitively useful confidential information when leaving Tesla for a new employer is obviously wrong and risky.”
It is alleged that the ex-employees intentionally copied sensitive information to portable drives and personal laptops and revealed the contents to Rivian. Tesla’s founder, categorically said, “It’s not cool to steal our IP, and for people to violate their confidentiality agreements…that kind of thing. They’re doing bad things, so we sued them.”
Through investigations being carried out, one former employee, Tami Pascale, has confessed to being guilty of the charges brought forward in the lawsuit. Previously employed at Tesla as Senior Staffing Manager, Tami divulged taking “at least ten confidential and proprietary documents from Tesla’s network, which would allow Rivian to poach Tesla’s highest-performing talent and promising employment prospects.” She also conceded in providing Rivian with information on Tesla’s prospective employees.
Although Elon Musk opened Tesla’s patents for use by other manufacturing companies to accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy for transport, he was not taking the theft of current and future personnel information lightly. Ultimately, this unethical sharing of information led Musk to take legal action.
On a lighter side, the 49-year-old entrepreneur spoke candidly about his future goals for Tesla, “I think we want to have reached volume production in all the products that have been announced, and maybe a few that haven’t, and have the company be operating in a very solid way that is robust, that even if I were to die, the company would still do really well for a long time."
Short term goals included getting new Tesla gigafactories up and running in Germany and Texas, and launching the controversial Cybertruck model. Musk added, “I don’t know, maybe we will be lucky enough to get Cybertruck into production towards the end of next year…” That’s in line with recent comments made by the EV manufacturer who wants to see production going ahead by late 2021.
With a longer-term view, Elon Musk is also aiming to set production at about 20 million electric vehicles annually. And, when quizzed about his future active role in managing operations, Musk added, “I think for some number of years in the future I will continue to run the company in a way that I think will enable us to make great products that people love, and provide those products all around the world and just kind of complete the roadmap that we’ve laid out, for many years.”
When asked if he thinks about succession, Musk quipped, "Yeah. I mean, not a lot, but at some point, obviously nobody lives forever, and somebody will need to take over Tesla at some point. But, I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about getting things done.”
The interview also touched on the ruling by a German court last month that the Autopilot system was misleading because a Tesla Model 3 driver had an accident while adjusting the windshield wipers.
When Elon was asked what his reaction to the ruling was, he threw in some humor with his reply saying, “Well, they should probably rename the Autobahn as well”.