Elon Musk admits Tesla was misled by speculators who ordered the luxury electric car but failed to complete the purchase, leading to car parks full of unsold stock.
Speaking at the Boao Forum in China's Hainan province, Musk said speculators "misled" him by placing orders for the car when it was first announced in China, only to cancel their orders and lose out on a small deposit, after the vehicles had been produced and shipped to the country.
High-end cars are often pre-ordered by resellers who either sell their place in the queue, or sell the car soon after delivery for a hefty profit. But a lack of service stations and Superchargers in China led to many cancellations and now Tesla has a reported 2,300 cars clogging up dealership forecourts and off-site car parks.
"China is the only place on Earth where we have excess inventory," Musk said. "We are essentially selling cars that speculators ordered but we were unable to deliver," reports Chinese news site Xinhuanet.
According to data from equity research firm JL Warren Capital, 260 Tesla Model S cars were licensed in China in February, a 45% decline over the previous month. Despite the dip and masses of unsold stock, Musk remains confident of future success for Tesla in China. "We have a strong long-term commitment to China, and we tend to establish both local production and local engineering in China."
Batting away criticism that Tesla's bespoke Supercharger network was rolling out across China too slowly, resulting in so-called 'range anxiety' among owners concerned about running out of charge, Musk said: "It is clear we that we need to think of China in a very long-term way. We need to steadily boost the confidence of the Chinese customers."
Despite previously stating newer versions of the Model S will receive autonomous driving features through a software update in the coming weeks, Musk remains opposed to more sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence. "We will see dramatic increases in the manifestations of AI [in the next decade]," Musk said. "I think we should be quite concerned that [deep-thinking AI] has the potential to be an existential threat...that's why in nuclear power, the overwhelming amount of engineering and research is into safety. That should also be true with AI."
Curing cancer and going to Mars
More positively, Musk made the bold prediction that, in the next 10 years, "most forms of cancer [will] be completely cured...based on the companies that I know that are developing extremely good cancer cures and that are in late state of human trials."
Although not personally involved in the medical industry, Musk also said he believes Alzheimer's disease will be "substantially addressed" within 10 years. In that timeframe he also predicts humanity will make its first manned trip to Mars - something his reusable rocket company SpaceX could play a major role in.