interview > eberhard > eberhard 13
Eberhard 13 (2:30)
Topic(s): Car Culture / Electric & Hybrid / Foreign Oil
© WGBH Educational Foundation
Please watch the clip first. If you plan to use it, review the Rules of Use, then click on the download button.
This clip is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Well, I mean, there's a lot of things we need to
change about the way people think. Obviously, we set out making a very high
performance car as our first car to change the way people think about electric
cars. They aren't goofy little, you know, what I call "punishment
cars", they aren't glorified golf carts, they are something that is
desirable and fun and when you see a Tesla roadster, you see that that is not a
golf cart, not at all. I might add that it actually does fit a full size touring
golf bag in the back, but it is not a golf cart.
But I think that there has been a change in the way
people think about cars that isn't driven by Tesla Motors, but it's
driven by the world. I remember when the Prius came out, for example. There
were articles written saying that the Prius cost as much more money than the
equivalent gasoline-powered car and that the difference in gas mileage is that
and therefore the Prius will pay for itself in 50 years or whatever it is. And
I think that that's the way that people thought about electric cars and
other technology cars at least since the 1970s oil crisis.
And that has changed and that's changed noticeably
in the last four or five years. And the change is because of two things:
first people have broadly recognized that we have to do something about global
climate change. It was in the president's State of the Union speech this
year, even, and everybody realizes that somebody has to—excuse me—everybody
realizes that somebody has to do something about that and that means themselves
and their own personal choices matter.
And the other major factor is the inescapable connection
between our problems in the Middle East and our addiction to oil. We depend on
too much oil not just from countries in the Middle East but also, let's
toss in Venezuela and even Nigeria, where the people don't particularly
like us and the supply of oil is not stable. We need to do something about that
and I think that broadly, consumers are aware of this.
So when people go out and buy a highly efficient car,
even a hybrid or whatever today, they're not doing it now to save a few
dollars, they aren't doing that now. They're buying it because they
are making a statement that they are doing the right thing from whatever their
perspective of the right thing is they are doing the right thing. And for that
I highly applaud them. And I think that makes the electric car market today a
very, very different thing than it has ever been in the past because we are no
longer quite so subject to fluctuations in oil price. If OPEC decides to drop
the price of oil significantly and gasoline drops a bit, it will impact us
some, but it's not the same thing as people will remember, and people
realize that our national security and the environment of the planet depends on
the choices we make with our cars.