Posted on June 12, 2019 by Matt Pressman
Sometimes it's hard to get an accurate read on Tesla from today's headlines. Why? There's an ongoing smear campaign. Who's diverting your attention away from this remarkable American success story? There's some alligators lurking in the FUD. Even Elon acknowledged, “It’s the most crazy disinformation campaign I’ve ever seen.”
Above: Tesla's Model 3 (Instagram: pichutesla)
Nevertheless, truth surfaced last night when Tesla held their yearly shareholder meeting. Musk delivered the company's "state of the union" for 2019. What were the takeaways? Don't focus on the frivolous fodder. Yes, Tesla will make vegan steering wheels. No, Elon isn't 007 (even though he's got a submarine car). Perhaps he is a Bond villain. In any event, here's what you really need to know...
"I want to be clear: there is not a demand problem," Musk announced. In fact, he said Tesla's got "a decent shot at a record quarter on every level." He noted that the Model 3 is outselling all of its premium sedan competitors, similarly priced models from Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus — combined. And, the market it's pulling from is actually far bigger than many initially thought. The Model 3 actually has 63% of its trade-ins coming from non-premium cars.
Above: Tesla isn't just pulling in buyers from German luxury makes, it's taking away sales from the mainstream car market (Source: Tesla)
The reveal of Tesla's pickup truck is slated (hopefully) for later this summer. Musk noted that Tesla's pickup truck will be "more functional" than a Ford F150 with better performance than a Porsche 911. “I think it’s the coolest car I’ve ever seen,” Musk said. The truck will look “cyberpunk” like it’s come from a “sci-fi movie.” He added, “We’re trying to create something new and it’s not just basically a copy of the form factor of everything else.”
Musk says he's planning a battery and powertrain investor day later this year — potentially this summer. Musk noted the Model 3, Model S and Model X outperform all non-Tesla EVs in power efficiency, as measured in terms of miles per kWh. Furthermore, now in 2019, there's still no other automaker able to match the all-electric range of Tesla's 2012 Model S. And yes, there's even a 400-mile range car in the works from the Silicon Valley automaker.
Above: Tesla's 7-year old battery technology remains superior to EVs from Big Auto today (Source: Tesla)
As Tesla grows its Gigafactories in Nevada, China, and (soon) Europe, the company may begin mining some of the minerals it needs in order to continue expansion. "We will do whatever we have to do to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible," said Musk. He acknowledged the two most important investor items to consider are the company's self-driving efforts and its ability to drive down battery costs.
Musk says the company's smaller SUV, the Model Y, could enter volume production "towards the end of next year," and could see demand greater than that of the Model 3, S and X combined. He also mentioned that (in spite of the car's larger form factor) the Model Y might actually boast a lower drag coefficient than the Model 3.
Above: It turns out that the biggest automotive market segment for Tesla is yet to come (Source: Tesla)
During Tesla's Q1 earnings call, Musk noted the company plans to launch a proprietary insurance offering which “will be more compelling than anything else” due to the vast amounts of data Tesla collects from its fleet. This in-house insurance product could turn out to be more attractive (and accurate) than third party insurance providers. During the shareholder meeting, Musk said Tesla has a "small acquisition we need to complete" before launching its own insurance business.
Musk noted that countries all over the world are setting deadlines to ban gas and diesel-powered cars. "If you buy a gasoline car that is not self-driving, it's like riding a horse and using a flip phone," he said. When considering resale values and looking to the future, "It's basically financially insane to buy anything other than an electric car that can upgrade to full autonomy," he added.