Tesla offers a new ‘master plan’ but few big revelations

Model X  Tesla
(Photo: Twitter)
Tesla said on Wednesday that it would build a factory in Mexico to manufacture an electric vehicle that would be significantly more affordable than any of the cars it sells now. But the company disappointed investors who were expecting it to make big announcements about new products and strategies.اضافة اعلان

Shareholders and analysts had expected Tesla to reveal information that would clarify how the company would retain its crown as the world’s dominant maker of electric vehicles in the face of energetic competition from established carmakers and relatively younger Chinese manufacturers.

Instead, company executives offered a seminar on its manufacturing processes, supply chain organization, and software. The message was that Tesla is eons ahead of other automakers in technology and efficiency, on track to someday produce 20 million vehicles a year, twice as many as Toyota does now. Tesla provided few of the financial bullet points or strategic initiatives that are often found in investor presentations.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, portrayed Tesla as a company on a mission to eliminate global dependence on fossil fuels, a theme he has often highlighted.
“I really want today to be not only about investors who own Tesla stock but anyone who is an investor in Earth.”
“I really want today to be not only about investors who own Tesla stock but anyone who is an investor in Earth,” Musk said early in the event at the company’s factory in Austin, Texas. “Earth can move to a sustainable economy and will do so in your lifetime,” he said before ceding the stage to other executives who offered wonky presentations on topics like electrode manufacturing, Tesla's energy storage business, and how the company will build electric motors that do not require rare minerals.

“We didn’t hear as much about market conditions in electric vehicles as we did about ‘Here are some very grand goals we have for sustainable energy,’” said Tammy Madsen, a professor at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University.

The new factoryMusk waited until the end of the event, which lasted more than three hours, to confirm reports that Tesla would build a factory, its fifth car plant, in Monterrey, Mexico. He indicated that Tesla would build a more affordable model there, but he declined to offer any details about the vehicle’s design or performance.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico said on Tuesday that the company had decided to build the plant.

Another model?Tesla’s presentation on Wednesday seemed more like a recruiting event for engineers than an investor presentation, said Vincent Pluvinage, the CEO of OneD Battery Sciences, a battery technology company.

“It was all about efficiency, getting more for less,” Pluvinage said. “I don’t think he cares about investors,” he added, referring to Musk.

There had been speculation that Musk would unveil plans for a Tesla vehicle that would be less expensive than the Model 3, which starts at $43,000 in the US.

Musk spoke of a $25,000 car in 2020, but he later seemed to quash the idea. Whether the car would be so affordable when it goes on sale is another question. Musk and Tesla had said the Model 3 would cost $35,000 before it went on sale in 2017, but few were sold at that price. Since then, the car’s price steadily climbed before Tesla lowered it a bit in January.

The competition, revving upAnalysts and investors have expressed concern that Tesla has been too slow to introduce new vehicles and respond to carmakers like Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Ford Motor that have brought out a wide variety of new electric models, many much cheaper or very different from Tesla’s four models: the S, X, 3 and Y. General Motors plans to begin selling three new electric vehicles this year, including an electric version of the Chevrolet Equinox crossover that will start at around $30,000.
“We didn’t hear as much about market conditions in electric vehicles as we did about ‘Here are some very grand goals we have for sustainable energy’.”
The event on Wednesday was seen as a response to investors who have complained that Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last year diverted his attention and left him less focused on his car company.

But the presentation did not appear to have impressed investors. Tesla’s share price, which is often volatile, was down about 5 percent in extended trading on Wednesday evening.

In China, automaker BYD has surpassed Tesla in electric vehicle sales, challenging the notion that Tesla is poised to dominate the auto industry as battery-powered cars increasingly supplant gasoline models. BYD is making a big push into Germany and other European countries, threatening to undermine Tesla’s dominance there.

When asked about China, Musk handed the question off to Tom Zhu, who oversaw construction of Tesla’s factory in Shanghai and now oversees all of the company’s factories. As long as Tesla offers good products at reasonable prices, “you won’t have to worry about demand”, Zhu said. “I’m not too concerned about China”.

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