Elon Musk: 'If You Don’t Make it at Tesla, You Go Work at Apple'

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc.

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc. Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

He added, “I’m not kidding.”

Though Apple has been poaching engineers from Tesla for its own electric car project, Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists the newly scooped up employees are actually Tesla rejects.

“They have hired people we’ve fired,” he said in a recent interview with the German publication Handelsblatt. “We always jokingly call Apple the ‘Tesla Graveyard.’ If you don’t make it at Tesla, you go work at Apple.”

He added: “I’m not kidding.”

While Musk (backhandedly) praised Apple for entering the automobile market, he remains skeptical of the company’s ability to produce a vehicle.

“[C]ars are very complex compared to phones or smartwatches,” he said. “You can’t just go to a supplier like Foxconn and say: Build me a car. But for Apple, the car is the next logical thing to finally offer a significant innovation. A new pencil or a bigger iPad alone were not relevant enough.”

His remarks parallel those of Palm CEO Ed Colligan, who in 2006 brushed off Apple as a smartphone maker: “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

In that case, Colligan had to eat his words. Perhaps Musk shouldn’t write Apple off too early.