Is Elon Musk the Disruptor the Car Industry Needs?

Tesla-watchers slam Musk for his SEC comments on "60 Minutes."

Elon Musk made plain his feelings toward the Securities and Exchange Commission during a “60 Minutes” interview with CBS that aired on Sunday, Dec. 9: “I do not respect the SEC,” Musk said.

The embattled CEO’s disparaging words refer to a settlement made with the commission earlier this year. Under the settlement, Musk was ordered to pay a $20 million fine after tweeting that he had the funds to take Tesla private. Musk’s company, Tesla, was ordered to pay an additional $20 million. See what all was revealed by Musk in the interview and what he said about the company’s future.

Elon Musk Looking Back on 2018

In a previous New York Times interview, Musk called this past year “the most … painful year of my career.” Admittedly, Musk didn’t make things easy on himself. In August, he tweeted that he had the funds to take Tesla private, sowing chaos among company shareholders and launching an SEC investigation. He was criticized for smoking pot with media personality Joe Rogan in September. To top it off, he accused a diver who helped to rescue children from a cave in Thailand of being a pedophile.

“I am somewhat impulsive,” Musk said in the “60 Minutes” interview. “And I didn’t really want to try to adhere to some CEO template.”

Musk also stated during the interview that he’s not a pot smoker. “I do not smoke pot, as anyone who watched that podcast could tell,” he said. “I have no idea how to smoke pot. Or anything. I don’t know to smoke anything, honestly.”

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO also offered insights into his Twitter habits. Part of the SEC settlement stated that Tesla’s board would monitor Musk’s tweeting. However, when Lesley Stahl asked him if anyone actually oversees his tweets, Musk replied, “No.”

“The only tweets that would have to be, say, reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock,” he added.

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Commentators have questioned Musk’s decision-making again in light of the interview. Wall Street-watcher and CNBC personality Jim Cramer said Musk thinks he is above the law. “This man plays by no rules,” he said. “He’s his own worst enemy. I don’t understand why anyone would do this.”

Elon Musk’s Plans for a Comeback

The interview characterized Musk as “a fighter,” noting that he fought back against Tesla’s bankruptcy by boosting production of the Model 3 vehicle. The Model 3 currently dominates the luxury car market, covering an estimated 28 percent of all small to midsize luxury car sales in the U.S., according to CleanTechnica.

“It was life or death,” Musk said of the production push. “We were losing $50, sometimes $100 million a week. Running out of money.”

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Musk credited the company’s recent success to his team creating a third assembly line in the Tesla parking lot, boosting output by 50 percent.

Although Tesla is still billions of dollars in debt, Musk appears to remain optimistic about the company’s future. The interview mentions that Tesla is expanding its workforce, and Musk himself is paying attention to rival General Motors shuttering its own factories while laying off thousands of its own employees. He did comment that he could possibly be interested in buying a GM factory if the company is selling them.

Click through to read about how Elon Musk plans to take on Uber and Lyft next.

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