Tesla's Elon Musk has no plans to build his controversial Hyperloop transportation system, which promised New York to LA travel in just 45 minutes, instead seeing the proposed high-speed project as an "open source" design he hopes others will pick up. Musk made headlines last month when he teased details of the Hyperloop - described as "a cross between a Concorde, a rail gun, and an air hockey table" - but, asked whether Tesla investors could expect a return on the system during the company's financial results call yesterday, admitted that he is too busy with the electric car company and SpaceX to build it himself.
In fact, Musk admitted, even mentioning his Hyperloop proposal in the first place may have been a bad idea. The original intention, he said, was to get an initial concept out into the public eye and then hope others would iterate on top of it, "kind of like an open source design".
"I think I kind of shot myself if I ever mentioning Hyperloop, because obviously I have to focus on core Tesla business and SpaceX business and that's more than enough, but I did commit to publishing a design and provide quite a detailed design I think on Monday and then invite critical feedback and see if the people can find ways to improve it and then you can just be out there as kind of like an open source design that maybe you can keep improving and I don't have any plan to execute, because I must remain focused on SpaceX and Tesla. If nothing happens for a few years, with that I mean maybe it could make sense to make the halfway path with Tesla involvement, but I would say is you shouldn't be speculative" Elon Musk
Exact details of the Hyperloop system Musk envisages haven't been made public yet, with the Tesla founder promising more information on Monday, August 12. However, the basic concept would involve running long, sealed tubes across the US, which would be pumped free of air and then have six-seater capsules run through.
That process, Musk says, would involve the sort of magnetic levitation technology already used in Japanese bullet-trains, but thanks to the vacuum environment traveling at considerably faster speeds. In fact, up to 4,000 mph has been suggested, though for the passengers the experience would supposedly be no different from a ride in a fast car.
The proposal needn't be limited to the US, either. A trip from New York to Beijing could be completed in a two hour Hyperloop journey, it's claimed, assuming the infrastructure was in place.
Tesla surprised investors with generally favorable Q2 financial results, after the EV company had warned that the quarter might look less positive than Q1 thanks to a decline in ZEV credit income. In fact, stronger sales of the Model S and an increase in margin helped offset that credit sale decline, and Tesla is planning a $150m capital expenditure project for the second half of 2013 that will see both R&D on the Model X crossover increase, and the company's production facility grow onto a newly-acquired 31 acre plot of land.