He’s CEO of America’s fastest-growing automaker and CEO of the firm which is single-handedly commercialising space flight. He’s also known as someone who likes to drop big hints to the media about future projects, and demonstrates a unique ability to get involved with some pretty crazy things, from cameo film appearances to playing himself on the Simpsons.
Handing over the first Tesla Model S cars in Japan pic.twitter.com/58fzUJBjVs
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 8, 2014
As a consequence, it’s no surprise that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s recent trip to Japan to officially mark the start of Tesla Model S deliveries not only saw him drop some massive hints about a future partnership with Toyota on electric vehicles, but also take part in one of those notorious Japanese game shows which seem to make very little sense to anyone who lives outside of Japan.
Model S, meet Japan
The launch first. At a suitably high-tech launch event, Musk personally handed over keys to some of Tesla’s initial Model S owners. With standing room only, those present at the Aoyama Store in Tokyo were told by Musk that should Japan want to, it could power the entire country on solar power alone rather than relying on Nuclear power stations.
“I’m a big proponent of solar. I think the combination of solar and electric cars can actually work extremely well for a country like Japan,” he said. “There’a actually enough sun on Japan to completely power Japan with just solar. Many times over.”
Continuing, Musk told those present that Japan, like other major economies in the world, needed to transition towards electric cars in order to become truly sustainable into the future, offering a counter voice to the current Japanese administration’s fascination with hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — led in part by Japanese automaker Toyota.
But the shock news from Musk’s trip to Japan is that Toyota and Tesla may start working together again on a new electric car project.
Toyesla, part 2
Known for its suspicion of electric cars, Toyota ended production of its RAV4 EV earlier this year. Purely made to satisfy California’s Zero Emission mandates, the RAV4 EV was built by Toyota with a Tesla-engineered drivetrain and battery pack. Earlier this year when Toyota ended its RAV4 EV production, both Tesla and Toyota made it clear the electric car relationship was coming to an end, despite Toyota retaining a 2.4 percent stake in the Californian automaker.
Yet at this week’s Japanese Model S launch, Musk hinted that the Tesla/Toyota partnership may be rekindled in a few years’ time in the form of a plug-in vehicle project which was significantly larger than their last collaboration.
“If you look out maybe two or three years from now, I would not be surprised if there was a significant deal with Toyota and Tesla,” he said.
After executing his duties as Tesla CEO and offering some new news to keep fans and investors excited, Musk finished his time in Japan in a way that only high-flying rock star CEOs can muster: a guest appearance on a Japanese game show.
Apparently filmed at the Tesla store in Tokyo, Musk later tweeted that he’d taken part in the show, but had no idea what the show was about.
That said, he appears to have had fun.
Just did crazy Japanese game show called 逆転の法則. I have no idea what happened, but it was awesome pic.twitter.com/oRQlbCH3de
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2014
Once we’ve figured out the show — and what Musk was doing on it — we’ll let you know.
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