Armin Laschet, leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union, CDU, was laughed at in front of cameras for his comment about the future of automobiles. Mr Laschet made a comment concerning hydrogen technology in cars that was immediately ridiculed by Mr Musk. At the Tesla construction site in Grünheide in Berlin on Friday, Mr Laschet was speaking to Mr Musk about the electric car industry and said: “What is the future of cars?”
Then Mr Laschet began to list alternatives to using electricity to power vehicles, including hydrogen.
However, Mr Musk then waved off that comment and interrupted the politician.
Mr Musk then said: “Electric, of course.
“Hydrogen is a waste of time. Then Musk burst out laughing.”
Mr Laschet’s list of other ways to power vehicles fell flat as Mr Musk continued laughing.
The event promised to make positive images for Mr Laschet’s election campaign.
But, with Mr Musk laughing at the CDU leader in front of cameras, the opportunity seemed to go to waste.
German media has stated Mr Laschet has been dealt a serious blow by the Tesla CEO’s sneering.
The images of Mr Musk laughing at Mr Laschet were then exploited by the politician’s opponents, who immediately questioned the CDU leader’s economic credentials.
Green politician Cem Özdemir tweeted: “The CDU once had economic expertise.
“Today our automotive industry laughs at you when you talk about H2 cars.
“Problem: Germany becomes a laughing stock and threatens to lose touch with digitisation and climate protection!”
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The incident of Mr Laschet being laughed at has now become an internet meme.
On social media, the comments accumulated.
One user wrote: “Laschet is really embarrassing himself again.”
Another said: “If Mark Zuckerberg comes to visit after Musk, Laschet will ask him what he thinks is the future of communication, social media or fax machines.”
But Mr Musk appeared to praise Mr Laschet after the incident.
He said: “He seems to be a great guy.”
The new Tesla plant in Berlin could see 500,000 electric cars built per year.
Mr Musk is also planning a German-based battery factory for Tesla.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.