I didn't want a lift in his little car anyway. I had better things to do, and everybody knew that electric cars just wouldn't catch on. The only thing that would catch on was the battery - on fire, that is.
So I was reluctant to be driven by Elon Musk in his prototype Tesla in 2009.
I was at a conference in San Diego in southern California, an annual gathering of people with very big brains alongside people with very big bank balances.
The brains were looking for money to fund their brilliant ideas, and the bank balances were looking for brilliant ideas with which to enlarge themselves even more - why stop at just one billion?
Elon Musk had already made a fortune after founding an online bank which was bought by PayPal. He was at the time far short of his current status as the world's richest man - he now has $US202,100,000,000 (that's $US202.1 billion) to his name - but even then he was still rich beyond dreams.
To a chippy journo, he was just another one of the countless Silicon Valley hyper-rich.
Five years earlier, he had invested a few million in a barely known company called Tesla. It had the wacky idea of making electric cars. Mr Musk brought a prototype to the conference and I, as the only journalist there, was the target of the PR push.
Did I want a drive? Not really. Oh OK, if you insist - but it'll have to be in the lunch break. Make it quick.
I was grumpy, so I decided to be difficult. I put to him all the doubts and difficulties.
As he drove, I gave him my ill-formed thoughts with great authority - fires in batteries was the problem of the time; recharging; no more speed (or range) than a golf buggy. I may even have said that a silent car was a danger to pedestrians.
And the clincher: I opined that the price would be so high that the car would be beyond the reach of the mass market.
At the end of our drive, I voiced my doubts again and headed away from this no-hoper. That was the end of that - just another weird idea going nowhere (silently).
He was, by the way, a terrible interviewee for a radio reporter - all umms and errs (like Richard Branson). If you are a business genius and make money like it's raining from the skies, you don't need eloquence.
The other day, I saw a super-elegant Tesla gliding around Canberra and realised just how wrong I had been. The moral is that you shouldn't take too much notice of the opinions of journalists.
We can be very good at reporting facts and arguments, but if we get above ourselves our opinions aren't worth much more than anybody else's.
If you want to know who's going to win an election, a chat with the chap at the pie shop will tell you as much as any grand political column. Finance reporters failed to spot the hurricane even when it hit in 2008.
I'm sure the shipping reporter in the bar of the Titanic would have ordered another drink ("Ice sir?" "Yes, please. One lump!").
But if we do actually head off global warming, I will salute Elon Musk (and I will salute him a long time before I salute the children bunking off school in protest at climate change).
The heroes of the green movement are no doubt the student activists who block roads - St Greta, too - but Elon Musk is a doer rather than a shouter.
And he is a doer in the great tradition of American capitalism.
Battery technology has improved by leaps and bounds because of a raft of companies in the US, South Korea and Japan, all building on basic research done in taxpayer-funded laboratories.
It is a classic and wonderful example of a mixed economy. The free-enterprise buccaneers would have you believe it's all down to them, but the truth is that they build on the basic research work in laboratories funded by us, the taxpayers.
And, of course, the taxation they pay should reflect our efforts in contributing to their wealth.
It's a double act: government and companies. Us and Elon. If only I, a know-all, know-nothing journalist, had seen it.
Capitalism is adorning our roads with the marvellous vehicles of the future. It would be nice if some were designed in Australia.
- Steve Evans is a Canberra Times reporter.