As the mass-market Tesla Model 3 electric car launches today, intrepid entrepreneur Elon Musk has his eye on even loftier innovations
Since becoming a multimillionaire in his late twenties, when he sold his start-up Zip2, South Africa-born entrepreneur Elon Musk has co-founded the company that became PayPal, steered electric vehicles into the mainstream at the helm of Tesla, shone as chairman of energy provider SolarCity, and entered the realm of space travel at SpaceX. He’s also accumulated around $11.1bn (£7.7bn) in the process. With the production prototype of the Tesla Model 3 set to be unveiled today [31 March] – and a new book about his life also on the way – the entrepreneur himself is looking forward, and up, to greater achievements…
Life on Mars
Musk has suggested the Red Planet “would be a good place to retire”. He founded SpaceX in 2002 to help make humans into inhabitants of other worlds, and last year reiterated the importance of colonising Mars as a defence against possible Armageddon: “You back up your hard drive – maybe we should back up life, too?”
Musk’s ‘Hyperloop’ idea – a magnet-powered vacuum cylinder offering supersonic transport between cities – would redefine the term “getting the Tube” forever. Travelling through a partial vacuum at 760mph, its capsules would offer speeds three times greater than the current fastest bullet trains, reducing a journey from LA to San Francisco to just 30 minutes.
Back in December, Beijing issued a severe air pollution warning which saw traffic restrictions enforced and factory work halted. Musk’s response: “China has an enormous land area, much of which is hardly occupied at all. You can easily power all of China with solar [energy].”
Given his track record, few eyebrows were raised at a recent award ceremony in Texas when Musk hinted at his plans to revolutionise aeroplane technology forever. “I’ve been thinking about the vertical take-off and landing electric jet a bit more,” he mused.