Bet With Auto Writer Dan Neil May Lead Tesla CEO to Donate $1 Million to Charity

A wager between two prominent figures in the auto industry may lead to a $1 million donation to international medical charity Doctors Without Borders, according to Detroit Free Press. The parties involved in the bet: Tesla CEO and multimillionaire Elon Musk and renowned automotive journalist Dan Neil of the Wall Street Journal. Formed through a series of oral and email exchanges, the bet reportedly revolves around Tesla meeting its production and pricing goals for the highly-anticipated Model S electric sedan.

As giants in their respective fields – Musk, an EV entrepreneur; and Neil, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning automotive scribe – a bet between the two heavyweights was bound to draw attention at some point. Detroit Free Press reports that Neil wagered that Tesla could not stick to the proposed schedule for the launch of its Model S, and also wouldn’t be able to offer the electric car at the claimed price. If Musk does manage to deliver the Model on time and at the previously announced price, the bet would require Neil to cough up $1000. If Tesla can’t meet its goals, the amount of cash on the line for Musk would be $1 million.

Though hands were never shaken on the matter, it seems the bet is still on, with perhaps a few modifications to the original stakes. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Musk said, “I will put the car out and give $1 million to Doctors Without Borders.” Confident that he can meet his company’s goals and still afford to give generously to charity, Musk continued, “I don’t really need a bet to give money away. I have a foundation that gives away money every year. I think Doctors Without Borders is a good cause, so sure, I will do this. Dan should chip in $1000, too.”

“I’m still game if Elon is,” said Neil to Detroit Free Press, regarding the wager. Neither of the two betters seems particularly worried about losing, but Musk is especially determined to meet his goals, going so far as to invite 3000 customers to see prototypes of the Model S at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, Calif. The event is intended to give customers a feel for what the Model S can do, and will allow them to sample the car’s acceleration, handling, and fit and finish. Musk says the prototypes will be virtually indistinguishable from their production counterparts, utilizing the same stamped aluminum body parts. Musk also maintains that Tesla is on track for the Model S’ mid-2012 delivery target.

Regardless of who wins and who has to pay up, in the end, the money should go toward a good cause. But with such lofty goals set for the Model S, including an anticipated starting price of $57,400 – minus a $7500 federal tax credit – for an electric luxury sedan that gets upwards of 160 miles per charge, we can see how Neil could bet money against Tesla’s plans.

Source: Detroit Free Press

By Alex Nishimoto