Part of his visit to the US included a ride in a Tesla for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and his driver was none other than Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. “I don’t think he gets driven fast in a car very often,” Musk told reporters. “I did say: ‘Is it OK if we go fast?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ It was like, OK, boom!” Musk did acknowledge that the cherry red Model S P85D was set to Insane mode during the drive.
Prime Minister Abe was accompanied by two security officers riding in the back seats during the test drive. There is no word on whether they were grinning like fools back there, as Musk showed off the car’s performance for Abe. During the drive, “We talked about what are the challenges with electric vehicles,” Musk told Bloomberg News afterward.
Musk told Abe his company plans to have 30 SuperCharger locations in Tokyo by the end of this year after launching in 2014. The Model S is quite a large car for Japan’s crowded cities. Finding room for charging stations will be a challenge, especially in Tokyo, where land can cost as much as a million dollars a square foot.
Part of Abe’s mission while in the US is to promote Japanese bullet train technology. California wants to complete a high speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and Japanese companies want to be part of that project. The Prime Minister brought along a bullet train simulator to show California governor Jerry Brown what high speed train travel is like.
“My confidence never wavers when it comes to the strength of Japan’s technology and human resources,” Abe said during a speech at Stanford University. “I am convinced Japan’s policy approach to ventures must be fundamentally changed. Both the business people and the companies must absorb the culture of the Silicon Valley from the top of the head to the little toe in the feet.”
To further that process, Abe announced a program to have 200 Japanese companies open offices in Silicon Valley over the next five years. 30 Japanese businessmen will visit the technology hub every year to present business proposals to investors and entrepreneurs.