Elon Musk took to the airwaves to talk about all things Tesla Motors today (video at bottom of story), and despite the company announcing a "surprise" 4th quarter sales result of about 6,900 all electric Model S sales - about 1,000 higher than previous guidance, the interview with CNBC focused mainly around a couple tweets the CEO put out on Tuesday on the NHTSA's use of the word "recall":

The CNBC interview by Phil LeBeau naturally leads an inquiry into Mr. Musk's public objections to the NHSTA's use of the word "recall" (that story and NHTSA's documents here):

"The word recall is vestigial because in the past the only way to update the software in a car was for the car to be brought into the dealership to get surface and then have to get plugged in and updated.  But all of the Tesla vehicles have an over the air update like your cell phone or laptop.  Effectively it is a bit of a...I mean, it doesn't makes to call it a recall in this situation, it is an over the air  update.  It is just not a word that makes sense in the 21st century for the Model S." 

The Tesla CEO notes that the NHSTA should call more accurately call it for what it is, "a remedy or something other than a recall." Mr. Musk does still allow for the word to be used when appropriate:

"I think there are cases where a recall, of course, is necessary when there's a mechanical problem with the car and that requires the car to be brought in, but that's simply not the case here."

And given that Elon and the NHTSA do have some history of publically disagreeing, Mr. Musk does take a moment to clarify why he chose to make a big deal out of the word "recall."

"I wouldn't sort of characterize this as, you know, as being at odds with NHTSA in any significant way. We just wanted to make sure we clarified to customers that they don't need to bring their car in."

Other highlights in the interview:

  • Recap of Q4 results - 6,900 cars sold
  • Tesla Model S - safest car in the world
  • Tesla Motors - only automaker to have no deaths or no serious injuries in their cars
  • Best selling car in Norway for two months in the 4th quarter
  • Revenue beat of 20% in Q4 incoming
  • Target of 800 Model S cars produced per week by end of 2014
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