Most people–including probably you the reader–today are in awe of Elon Musk.
But, a few people like Charlie Munger have an opposite take on Elon Musk! Why would that be? You would be wondering. Right?
So, I would like to encourage the reader to once re-consider his view on Elon Musk. To re-form your judgment, please look at the following dots (in form of quotes).
Dot 1: SpaceX co-founder Jim Cantrell on Musk
“It doesn’t matter if it’s going up against the banking system (Paypal), going up against the entire aerospace industry (SpaceX), or going up against the U.S. auto industry (Tesla). He can’t imagine NOT succeeding..” Source
Dot 2: SpaceX co-founder Jim Cantrell again on Musk
“He is by far the single smartest person that I have ever worked with … period. I can’t estimate his IQ but he is very very intelligent. And not the typical egg head kind of smart. He has a real applied mind. He literally sucks the knowledge and experience out of people that he is around.” Source
Dot 3: Charlie Munger on Musk
“I think Elon Musk is a genius and I don’t use that word lightly. I think he’s also one of the boldest men that ever came down the pike. Put me down as saying I’ve always been afraid of the guy whose IQ is 190 and he thinks it’s 250. I like to think there’s a little of that risk with Elon. He is a certified genius.” Source
Dot 4: Charlie Munger again on Musk
“I think the auto business is very difficult, very competitive, and everybody is going to make wonderful cars. Everybody already has enormous size and wealth. So, I regarded it as a tough business. Elon Musk is a genius, and so if anybody has a chance to do it, he probably is the man.
But we have a saying at Berkshire that when a man with a reputation for genius takes on a business with a reputation for tough operating conditions, it’s the reputation of the business that’s likely to prevail. Without government help, getting electric cars off the ground is really hard. In China, it works a lot better than it does here, because their air is worse.
What Elon Musk really needs is for the whole country to have a disastrous smog attack that kills a lot of people. Short of something terrible like that, I think it’s going to be difficult. He’s a genius, but is going to have to be.” Source
Dot 5: Tesla’s market capitalization
Tesla’s market capitalization is now bigger than General Motors’, making it the largest U.S. based automaker. Source
Electric cars are not going to succeed in US. But are going to be the technology for future in India–mainly for cab aggregators.
In US, oil is cheaper and pollution is not a big problem. Not the case for India.
The relevant issues in India–high cost of ownership of an EV, battery charging infrastructure, limit of distance in one charge–are non-issues once you consider cab aggregation companies as potential big customers of EVs. Cab aggregation companies will tremendously benefit from much lower running costs! And govt. will subsidize EVs heavily to control pollution! (Note: I am connecting a lot of dots here in my mind, which may not be visible to the reader. So, I will write a separate article on this soon.)
So, Charlie is right partially and Musk is right partially too.
Charlie is right that Musk will not succeed in US. Yet Musk is right in betting on EV technology in general. Because, EV is the future for highly populated emerging markets–mainly for cab aggregators!
P.S. Don’t be afraid to take a view. Just remain open to modifying it in the light of new evidence!0