Elon Musk: Bill Gates “Has No Clue” About Electric Trucks

A week before Tesla's Batter Day, Musk is pulling no punches

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on a recent visit to Germany
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on a recent visit to Germany.
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Bill Gates has proved himself an authority on a variety of subjects, from computers to philanthropy to fecal fragrances. In August on his blog Gates Notes, the Microsoft founder offered his insights on another hot-button issue: the future of transportation during the climate crisis.

Gates’s blog touches on electrification, alternative fuels and how solutions for the world’s poorest people may look different than for people in the U.S. While he opts for an optimistic tone throughout the piece, his seemingly innocuous comments on electric trucks have led Tesla CEO Elon Musk to comment on Twitter that Gates “has no clue” what he’s talking about, as Bloomberg reported.

How did we go from blog post to Twitter shaming? In the blog, Gates writes that electric vehicles work great “for personal cars and even medium-duty vehicles, like city buses and garbage trucks,” but that “we need a different solution for heavy, long-haul vehicles.”

But a long-haul EV is exactly what Musk has been promoting and developing for years. The Semi project, according to the Tesla website, is forecasting their transport vehicle will get up to 500 miles of range and incorporate the company’s Autopilot driver-assistance technology.

It’s been a couple weeks since Gates made his thoughts about the future of trucking clear, but Musk’s delayed retort — prompted by a Twitter user asking, “What’s your opinion about Bill Gates’ declarations referred to electric trucks?” — comes a week before Tesla’s long-awaited Battery Day. Musk is promising that the event, scheduled for September 22, will feature “many exciting things,” potentially including the announcement of an EV battery that lasts a million a miles. But maybe the announcements will include an update on the Semi initiative, in which case it would behoove Musk to go on the attack against Gates’s downplaying of his technology.

Or Musk’s tweet could be the result of something even more pedestrian: spite.

In Gates’s blog, he writes, “You’ll even be able to buy an all-electric pick-up truck soon thanks to legacy companies like GM and Ford and new carmakers like Rivian and Bollinger.” A mention of the Tesla Cybertruck, on the other hand, is nowhere to be found. 

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