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Elon Musk: In 20 years, most cars will be electric

SAN FRANCISCO–In 20 years, a majority of newcars will be electric and the world’s single largest source of energy will be solar power, Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said today.

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference here, the 40-year-old billionaire co-founder of PayPal shared his vision of the future, and also gave the room full of would-be entrepreneurs some sobering advice about what they should expect when trying to get companies off the ground.

Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk (seen here on the left in 2007) says that in 20 years, the majority of new cars will be electric.
(Credit: Stefanie Olsen/CNET)

“Expect it to be difficult,” Musk said. “A friend phrased it well: ‘Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.'”

Those are no doubt harrowing words, but in speaking them in the closing talk at Disrupt it would seem Musk wasn’t trying to discourage those in the room from seeking their own innovations. Rather, he wanted entrepreneurs to have a decent sense of what’s in store.

Musk has in recent years tackled two major efforts: making exciting electric cars, and building a profitable private space industry. And though his perspective may be colored by his own experiences, he said he feels the two biggest problems humankind must solve to have a bright future are clear.

“I think the biggest problem humanity faces in the 21st century,” Musk said, “is sustainable energy, terrestrially” and achieving life beyond Earth.

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