Timeline: Elon Musk's 'difficult and painful' 2018

The Tesla founder confessed that the past year was ‘excruciating’ in an emotional interview that led to stocks falling sharply. Here’s a look back on his 2018

27 January

Elon Musk’s Boring Company launches a $500 flamethrower. Critics say it is more like a gun-shaped blowtorch than a flamethrower.

6 February

SpaceX, Musk’s upstart rocket company, fires a midnight cherry Tesla Roadster out of Earth’s orbit while playing David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

The following day, Tesla announces a $675m quarterly loss, sending stock tumbling on fears the company could run out of cash.

3 March

A Model X crashes into a freeway divider, killing the driver and catching fire. Tesla says the driver “wasn’t paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings”.

27 March

Moody’s downgrades Tesla’s credit rating to negative from stable, citing “significant shortfall” in the Model 3 production rate and a tight financial situation.

Tesla recalls 123,000 Model S cars over a “corroding bolt” issue. Stock drops to $266.

1 April

Musk tweets: “We are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.” It was a joke – sort of. Two days later, Musk tweets: “I’m back to sleeping at factory. Car biz is hell …”

About a year ago, I asked Doug to manage both engineering & production. He agreed that Tesla needed eng & prod better aligned, so we don’t design cars that are crazy hard to build. Right now, tho, better to divide & conquer, so I’m back to sleeping at factory. Car biz is hell …

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2018

16 April

Musk admits his vision of robots cranking out thousands of Model 3 cars a week in Fremont may have been too ambitious. “Yes, excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake,” he said. “To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

3 May

Musk slams analysts on an earnings call. Asked to detail Tesla’s cash position, Musk tells Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi: “Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”

Tesla stock drops more than 5% in after-hours trading.

15 July

Vern Unsworth, a British cave diver helping with the rescue of a Thai football team and their coach stuck in a cave, says he is considering legal action after Musk accuses him of being a “pedo” in a now-deleted tweet. Musk apologises.

7 August

Musk tweets: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” Tesla shares rise 11%. US regulators start investigating as Tesla is hit by two class-action lawsuits. Musk later defends his action and clarifies that he has been talking to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund about financing.

13 AugustAzealia Banks claims she has been hanging out at Musk’s house while his girlfriend, the musician Grimes, comforts him for being “too stupid to know not to go on Twitter while on acid”. Musk denies ever having met the rapper.

16 August

Musk gives an emotional interview to the New York Times in which he acknowledges he is “fraying”, needs Ambien to sleep and has some friends who are “really concerned” about his health.


Edward Helmore

The GuardianTramp

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