Event Recap: Some surprises at Tesla's Shareholder Meeting
No, Tesla won't be launching a motorcycle anytime soon. But, surprisingly, Elon Musk confirmed that a "compact" car could be in the works sometime in the future. Tesla's Shareholder Meeting was, indeed, chock full of surprises this year. One thing that wasn't a surprise — Elon Musk will remain Chairman and the board won't change. With all the hubbub in the press, you'd think this was up for grabs. It wasn't.
Above: A look at the Tesla Model S at a Destination Charger (Image: Tesla)
In any event, here's a handy recap of what mattered most during Tesla's 2018 Shareholder Meeting. Most impressive (in my opinion) was the surprising admissions surrounding Tesla's batteries...
Tesla expects to ship more batteries from the Gigafactory than all other electric vehicles in the world combined. In a rare admission, Musk claimed Tesla's closing in on a $100/kWh price point later this year (contingent upon materials costs). This figure has been often quoted as the breakthrough that would give EVs cost parity with gas-powered internal combustion engine cars. Battery chemistry is also rapidly improving — Musk forecasted 2-3 years for a 30% improvement. And, advances using "lithium anode" tech could lead to a doubling in 6-8 years.
Even with Tesla's slower-than-anticipated start (aka production hell), the Model 3 has already taken the top spot in US marketshare for premium mid-sized sedans — beating the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi. There's also other reasons why German automakers are getting nervous. Model 3 production is improving with a 5,000 car/week run rate "quite likely" by the end of the month as all Model 3 production lines have now demonstrated they can accomplish 500 cars/day. Model 3 test drives at company stores will also start in a few weeks.
Above: Tesla Model 3 is taking over the premium mid-sized sedan category in the US (Image: Tesla)
Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada is about 1/3 complete and takes about two hours to walk through (end-to-end) due to its enormous size. Musk actually wants to offer tours to the public in the future to showcase how "epic" it is — it will be twice as big as the next biggest building on earth. The China Gigafactory is (almost) confirmed for Shanghai and another is coming in Europe but its location is still up in the air. Over time, Musk is aiming for 10-12 Gigafactories worldwide. All future Gigafactories will encompass battery and auto manufacturing in one centralized location moving forward.
Another Model Y teaser image was released (see below) and Musk is hoping for an official unveiling around March of next year. He's looking to go into production on it about two years from now. When asked about non-leather "vegan" options in Tesla's cars, Musk teased that, "Model Y will not have any leather in it, even in the steering wheel… even if it does have a steering wheel.” Hmmm...
Above: Teaser image of Tesla's forthcoming Model Y (Image: Electrek via Tesla)
Tesla-owned Body Shops
Tesla is opening company-owned body shops starting in the top 10 metro areas in the US. With this move, Musk noted that Tesla is expecting significant cost/timeline improvements for body repairs. Tesla will be opening these body shops as an annex to existing service centers and will be pre-stocking parts for more speedy repairs.
Roadster 2.0 and Semi Truck
Musk reminded everyone that the Roadster 2.0 prototype that was previously demonstrated was just the base model. Expect more ludicrous stats — a souped up version will include a "SpaceX option package" which will (likely) go completely plaid. Expect better performance and increased range from the Tesla Semi production version as well. Musk noted that the Semi will be designed to be compatible with all markets worldwide. Prototypes for both were on exhibit at the event (footage below).
Above: Exclusive footage of the new Roadster 2.0 (in white) and Tesla Semi prototypes at the event (Youtube: E for Electric)
Another milestone was announced: Tesla has 1 GWh of energy storage deployed worldwide (with another GWh likely being deployed in less than a year). The rate of stationary storage is growing exponentially with each incremental year likely to be more than all of the preceding year — and this should occur for a number of years moving forward. The solar roof has been quietly rolled out and remains in "validation testing" phase including (of all places) Gene Wilder's house that Musk now owns.
Tesla is closing in on 10,000 Superchargers worldwide (current count: 9,969) and the company's Gen 3 Superchargers are coming towards the end of this year. These Gen 3 Superchargers will be equipped for the "zombie apocalypse" with full solar/battery integration. In other words, they won't need to be connected to the grid. A factor of 3 or 4 improvement could be possible from Gen 3 Superchargers but not applicable to all Teslas — older variants may be limited in terms of charging speed.
Above: Tesla's current Supercharger design alongside a Model S (Image: Tesla)
After a question from Galileo Russell, Elon Musk admitted to over-optimism with his timelines. Yes, Elon is typically late (no surprise here) and he confessed this trend would likely continue. “I'd probably put some sandbag on future dates, that's probably wise... I kind of say when I think it can occur, but then I'm typically optimistic about these things.” He admitted, “I think I do have an issue with time... I have a condition, I don't know.”
Musk thanked Tesla buyers and admitted that what he wanted to relay to them may sound a bit "cheesy" — nevertheless, he got choked up when he said, "At Tesla, we build our cars with love. At a lot of other companies, they're built by marketing or the finance department, and there's no soul. We're not perfect, but we pour our heart and soul into it and we really care."