Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he'd be open to merger talks with a rival. 'We'd certainly have that conversation.'

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he'd be open to merger talks with a rival. 'We'd certainly have that conversation.'
Elon Musk.Aly Song/Reuters
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday that he would be open to discussing a merger with a rival automaker.
  • "We'd certainly have that conversation," he told Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider parent company Axel Springer.
  • But Tesla wouldn't launch a "hostile takeover," he said.
  • Tesla faced hostility from its rivals when he started out, Musk said. "They used a lot of adjectives ... I don't think that any of them were positive."
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If one of Tesla's rivals suggested a merger, its CEO Elon Musk would be open to the discussion, he said Tuesday.

But the electric vehicle firm wouldn't launch a hostile takeover, he told Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer, Business Insider's parent company.

When asked whether it's a "serious option" for Tesla to potentially buy one of its rivals, Musk said: "I think we're definitely not going to launch a hostile takeover."

Döpfner followed this by asking whether Musk would pursue a friendly takeover.

"If someone said, 'hey, we think it would be a good idea to merge with Tesla,' we'd certainly have that conversation," Musk replied.

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"But we don't want it to be a hostile takeover situation," he added.

Tesla's biggest electric vehicle rivals are mostly traditional car companies such as General Motors and Nissan.

Tesla received investment from Toyota and Mercedes parent Daimler early on — but it has largely gone its own way since, raising money by selling equity, including a $5 billion capital raise announced in September.

It has also nabbed a spot on the S&P 500 index.

Read more: Winning the electric car race is just the beginning of Elon Musk's plan for Tesla

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In the interview, Musk said that in the past he has faced hostility from rival car makers.

When Tesla first launched, "they used a lot of adjectives," he said. "I don't think that any of them were positive."

After the company first unveiled its Roadster sports car in 2007, "they just said 'well you're basically a bunch of fools,'" Musk said.

Legacy automakers told him that the idea of starting a car company was "crazy" and warned him that he would lose all his money.

"I was like 'I think I'll probably lose all my money, I agree,'" he told Döpfner.

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"I thought maybe we had a 10% chance of success."

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