MOUNTAIN VIEW--Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk assured shareholders Tuesday that he will stay on as CEO of the electric-car maker for at least four or five years, through volume production of Tesla's next vehicle, a mass market car that will sell for roughly $35,000.
"No one is a CEO forever," Musk said at Tesla's annual shareholders meeting, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. "Eventually they carry you out."
Musk, 42, is also CEO of rocket maker SpaceX, based outside Los Angeles, and has spoken previously about the challenges of simultaneously running two fast-growing companies in different cities.
"It is quite difficult to be CEO at two companies," he said.
Tesla's third-generation car, commonly referred to as the Gen 3, is dependent on Tesla's "gigafactory" for battery production being built, which Musk says will drive down the cost of the car's power system. In February, Tesla announced that Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are finalists for landing the massive manufacturing facility; California is considered a long shot.
On Tuesday, Musk said Tesla could begin construction at two or even three sites in different states before ultimately choosing the final location by the end of the year. And he left open the possibility that more than one factory might be needed.
Musk also said that Tesla has made progress on autonomous driving.
"In one year we will have a car that drives on autopilot from freeway onramp to freeway offramp," he said.
Tesla shareholder meetings are fascinating affairs, drawing investors from around the globe. An 11-year-old boy from Burlingame told Musk he invested in Tesla as his first stock and asked if he could have a tour of the factory.
"Absolutely," Musk said.
Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706. Follow her at Twitter.com/danahull.