Bill Gates Touts GM and Ford, Snubs Tesla, While Praising Electric Pick-Ups

Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates appeared to snub Elon Musk's Tesla this week in a blog post that talked up the promise of electric vehicles (EVs).

The 64-year-old Microsoft co-founder chose not to namecheck one of the world's most popular, and lucrative, EV firms when discussing the need to power vehicles with clean energy, with Musk's carmaker notably absent—at least by direct reference.

Tesla has enjoyed a surge in valuation this year and has a market cap of more than $375 billion. Gates, who has previously criticized Musk, seemingly decided not to include Tesla's new Cybertruck in his line-up of upcoming all-electric pick-up truck options.

"The good news is that we've made lots of progress on electric vehicles. Unlike many of the green alternatives you can go out and buy one right now," Gates wrote.

"The batteries that power them have seen an 85 percent price drop since 2010, so they're getting more affordable to purchase (although they're still more expensive than gas-based options). Plus, increased competition in the market means there are more choices available to customers than ever before, from compact sedans to sleek sports cars. You'll even be able to buy an all-electric pick-up truck soon thanks to legacy companies like GM and Ford and new carmakers like Rivian and Bollinger."

Tesla's own version of an all-electric pickup, known as the Cybertruck, was unveiled in November last year and is expected to enter production within two years.

Of course, the reference to "sleek sports cars" may indeed be a nod to the dominant EV carmaker helmed by Musk, a billionaire with a history of publicly criticizing some of the world's most well-known tech industry figureheads—including Gates.

Most recently, the pair have clashed over Musk's outspoken approach to discussing the novel coronavirus. Musk had slammed government lockdowns that are designed to limit the spread of the pandemic and described any panic around the virus as "dumb."

In an interview with CNBC last month, Gates snubbed Musk's knowledge of vaccines as news broke that Tesla was helping to produce mobile molecule printers for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate being trialed by a German company called CureVac.

In response, Gates said Musk's "positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments," prompting the 49-year-old Tesla boss to hit back in several Twitter posts. "The rumor that Bill Gates & I are lovers is completely untrue," Musk wrote.

It's not the first time the two have clashed over their choice of vehicles. In February, Musk was irked after it surfaced that Gates had bought an electric car made by Porsche over his own EV brand. "My conversations with Gates have been underwhelming tbh," Musk wrote after being asked about the topic by a Twitter user.

In his blog post this week, Gates said the world needs to reach zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years to "prevent the worst effects of climate change," warning its impact could ultimately be worse than COVID-19.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty