CEO Elon Musk continued to criticize Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Sunday over their differing opinions on the feasibility of using electricity to power larger vehicles.
What Happened: “Gates must have had technical understanding at some point in his career, but has now left planet Earth,” Musk wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Gates had previously stated that 18-wheeler trucks were not suitable for electric propulsion, arguing that electricity worked for short distances but not for heavy, long-haul vehicles. This triggered Musk, whose electric vehicle (EV) company unveiled the Tesla Semi, a fully electric semi-truck, in 2017.
“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,” Gates wrote in his blog in August 2020.
While Musk criticized Gates’ opinion for lacking a solid foundation, Gates justified his viewpoint to Musk’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, indicating that he possessed knowledge that Musk did not. Gates also stated that he had numerical data supporting his claim.
Musk, however, claimed that Gates had made his conclusion without considering assumptions on battery Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram) and truck Wh/mile (watt-hours per mile).
Why It Matters: Although the Tesla Semi was expected to be in production in 2019, the first deliveries were only made to PepsiCo in December of last year.
It’s important to note that Bill Gates held a short position on Tesla and Musk declined Gates’ philanthropic proposals in 2022 because of this position.
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