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Elon Musk has indicated that he would not mind Tesla going bankrupt if it means a rival company builds a better car, according to a board member of the firm.
“I disagree every time Elon says I’m not against Tesla going bankrupt if someone comes up with a better car,” Hiromichi Mizuno, chief investment officer at Japan’s Public Pension Investment Fund, told CNBC’s Dan Murphy at the World Government Summit . Tuesday.
“I think that’s his philosophy and Tesla’s philosophy,” said Mizuno, who was elected to the company’s board of directors in April 2020.
Tesla did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Musk previously said the automaker could have gone bankrupt several times in its nearly 20-year history. In November 2020, Musk said the company was “about a month away” from bankruptcy ahead of production of the Model 3 car, from mid-2017 to mid-2019.
In a separate interview with the Tesla Owners Club, Musk said keeping the company from bankruptcy was his “vast majority” as the firm faced production disruptions due to the Chinese lockdown. He also noted that automakers in general “desperately want to go bankrupt.”
In addition to numerous other ventures, including space exploration company SpaceX, Musk bought Twitter last year and is making sweeping strategic changes, from massive layoffs to an aggressive pursuit of profitability. Investors are wondering if Musk is being distracted at a time when Tesla faces increased competition, macroeconomic uncertainty and regulatory scrutiny.
Reflecting on Musk’s growing workload, Mizuno joked that he wasn’t sure if the mysterious billionaire was “human or alien.”
Still, Mizuno backed Musk and suggested he admired the tech mogul’s tenacity. “He seems to have incredible bandwidth over his work.”
He’s not the only Tesla fan to support the firm’s CEO. David Wallerstein, head of eXploration at Tencent, said last month that he still expects Tesla to “continue to blow us away with what they’re doing with technology” despite Musk’s distraction. The Chinese tech giant has owned 5% of Tesla since 2017.
While Tesla has made progress toward production and sales in the hundreds of thousands — the company delivered 1.31 million vehicles last year — more than 80% of industry sales still come from vehicles that aren’t all-electric, Mizuno added. .