Tesla’s Musk miffed over fellow billionaire’s takedown of electric trucks

Elon Musk is not happy with Bill Gates.

Three weeks after the Microsoft (MFST) co-founder raised questions in a blog post about the viability of electric trucks, the Tesla (TSLA) CEO said he thinks Gates “has no clue.”

In a tweet posted Saturday, Musk, the world’s fourth-richest man, expressed his feelings about the man two rungs up that ladder dissing electric vehicles.

Startups playing defense

Musk’s retort comes as another electric truck startup, Nikola, also is defending its honor.

Last week Hindenburg Research, a company that makes money betting against companies with high stock prices, published a lengthy report accusing Nikola (NKLA) founder Trevor Milton of “intricate fraud.”

“We have gathered extensive evidence — including recorded phone calls, text messages, private emails and behind-the-scenes photographs,” Hindenburg said. “We have never seen this level of deception at a public company, especially of this size.”

In response the electric truck startup said as part of its own lengthy statement that “these allegations by the short seller are false and misleading and designed to manipulate the market to profit from a manufactured decline in Nikola’s stock price.”

A shoutout to Tesla competitors

In the Gates blog post, “How do we move around in a zero-carbon world?” the tech pioneer and philanthropist expressed doubt about the potential for EVs as long-haul vehicles. 

“Batteries are big and heavy,” Gates wrote, and “even with big breakthroughs in battery technology, electric vehicles will probably never be a practical solution for things like 18-wheelers, cargo ships, and passenger jets.” 

“Electricity works when you need to cover short distances, but we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles.”

That solution would be  “cheap, alternative fuels,” said Gates, particularly biofuels.

The biofuels endorsement was no doubt welcomed by renewable natural gas advocates, who  have expressed concern about a perceived unfair bias toward electric vehicles.

Gates did give a shoutout to GM and Ford as well as startups Rivian and Bollinger for pushing all-electric pickup truck technology forward. 

Telsa was noticeably absent from the list. 

Tesla truck timeline, delays

In July, Tesla announced it would build its newest Gigafactory near Austin, Texas. The 2,000-acre site will be used to build the electric vehicle company’s Cybertruck, the Tesla Semi, and the Model 3 and Model Y for the eastern half of North America.

Ater repeatedly delaying production of the Semi, Musk in July again said production would likely get underway in 2021.

Tesla posted a $104 million profit in the second quarter of 2020, riding a boom in regulatory credit revenue and a higher-than-expected number of vehicle sales despite manufacturing setbacks tied to the coronavirus shutdowns.

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