Elon Musk Says Tesla's About to Do Something Extra Special

By Tom Bemis

The Tesla CEO tells shareholders the move may not be "economically sensible" but is a cool idea anyway.

Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report CEO Elon Musk says the company is about to embark on an experiment to seize an untapped opportunity, even though it may not make much business sense.

Musk made the comments during an extensive question and answer session at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Aug. 4.

The sometimes rowdy audience cheered many of Musk’s announcements and answers, prompting the CEO to say at one point, “This is the best crowd.”

Musk covered a wide variety of topics including plans for the company to finally launch its long-awaited cybertruck and the unlikely circumstances that would lead to him leaving Tesla.

Musk also discussed other opportunities for Tesla, including one that he acknowledged probably doesn't make much business sense but was still worth doing.

Network of Superchargers

As part of Tesla’s master plan, the company has constructed a continentwide network of charging stations for its cars. Similar networks are in place in Europe and China. Relatively early in Tesla’s ascent, the company set up enough chargers near interstate highways to enable drivers to travel from Los Angeles to New York.

The network continues to expand, Musk told shareholders. “We’re deploying superchargers wherever we see the greatest need,” he said. “Sometimes the greatest need is a place that’s difficult to get permits…Getting a permit in Malibu was nuts, like the next level. That took years.”

With thousands of charging stations already in place, Tesla appears to have a golden opportunity to boost margins with something similar to the convenience stores at many if not most gas stations.

Musk said there are indeed plans to add amenities to at least some supercharger locations. But this being Tesla, and Musk, those plans are a little more whimsical and grandiose.

A Futuristic Vision

“We’re going to do a really fun supercharger location in LA.,” Musk said at the meeting. “The general vision is to have something that’s like futuristic, kind of like [a] diner, sort of like, I dunno, Blade Runner meets Grease meets Jetsons."

Musk added that Tesla will “have, like, these big screens at the supercharger location and the screens will be aiming to show, like, the greatest 100 movie clips of all time. So you can have a cheeseburger and charge your car and watch some cool stuff on the screen.”

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The location won’t be restricted. “It’ll be open to others, you know,” Musk said. “You can come to the restaurant even if you don’t own a Tesla. But it’ll be like a little gem.”

The LA location will serve as a test case, according to Musk. “Depending on how that goes, we might roll that out to a few other places,” he said. “But we’ll try to do interesting fun things that are not necessarily economically sensible but they’re cool.”

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