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Tesla goes 'super deep' on batteries: Look out for 'alien technology' says Elon Musk
Posted on January 30, 2020 by Matt Pressman
Tesla's Q4 2019 earnings call sent the stock into orbit during after hours trading. For a quick overview of the company's financials, check the source — Tesla's official Q4 and FY2019 update. Meanwhile, I was furiously taking notes during the company's conference call which had engaging questions from retail investors (via the innovative SAY.com platform), and assorted Wall Street analysts.
Above: Tesla's CEO Elon Musk (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)
Off-the-cuff remarks on the call often provide investors with the juiciest details. And this call didn't disappoint. In light of this, I've compiled some of my favorite highlights — check out direct quotes from Elon Musk and Tesla's top brass during the company's call.
Musk says that Tesla's Cybertruck, "... went viral. We tried to build a product that is [a] product superior in every way... from the standpoint of what's the most badass [and] futuristic... like something that just came out of a movie set from the future and the amount [of interest] has been incredible. I have never actually seen such a level demand... we've never seen anything like it basically. I think we will make as many as we can sell for many years... it's going to be pretty nuts... and I think actually the product is better than people realize even, they don't have enough information to realize the awesomeness of it. It's just great."
Musk explained, "It's hard to think of a similar product with such strong demand that it can generate more than $20 billion in revenue with zero advertising spend... [it] speaks to the nature of the product and the fact that the product [sells] itself [and] is compelling enough to generate that demand." CFO Zachary Kirkhorn also remarked, "On demand, while we've mentioned a few times, it's worth highlighting once again — over the course of the year, we've transitioned entirely from generating Model 3 orders from a reservation backlog to generating new and organic demand."
Musk says, "Regarding Model Y, it was only 10 months ago that we revealed a Model Y prototype. And now in January this year, we started producing Model Y in limited volumes already. Now this is thanks to a great effort of our engineering team and we managed to achieve by far the highest energy efficiency of any electric SUV ever produced... [with an] EPA rating of 315 miles and this improvement is reflected on the [website] configurator as of today." To that end, you can actually configure your Model Y right now for deliveries that begin towards the end of March.
Model S and X
Musk says, "We're rapidly approaching a 400 mile range for the Model S... the Model S and X actually have more range than we are currently stating on the website. We just haven't gotten around to updating... but the actual range of the Model S and X are above what the website [says] they are." Later, he compared the Model S with Porsche's new Taycan, "the Model S has like 100 kilowatt pack [and] Taycan has like a 95 kilowatt hour pack. The Model S is steadily approaching 400 miles range [while] the Taycan has 200 miles range."
Speaking about Tesla's next-level powertrain, Musk says, "... [it's] mind blowing I think. Yes. Coming out later this year, end of the year probably, that's our goal. Get powertrain up [by] end of the year and then it's going to be like — this is like alien technology, it's insane.... Tesla is all about hardcore engineering."
'Super deep' on batteries
Musk says, "we've worked well with key partners like Panasonic, our relationship has been excellent. They've been a great partner with us for many years. We've added some additional partners that are small at scale with LG and CATL.... We've got a very compelling strategy. I mean we are super deep on... [battery] cells, module, [and pack]. The rabbit hole goes down pretty far."
He explains that they have more-than-a-decade of experience in batteries which allows Tesla innate knowledge of, "how to manage the cell and the module, the battery... for weather conditions and different environments and different charge regimes... we really know about batteries. [It's] next level."
He continues, "we're going to talk about this on Battery Day, which is probably April. And then a lot of these questions will be answered. I think it's going to be a very compelling story... I think it's going to actually blow people's minds — it blew my mind and I know it. So it's going to be pretty cool."
Retail Investors vs. Wall Street Analysts
Musk says, "I do think that a lot of retail investors actually have deeper and [sometimes] more accurate insights than many of the big institutional investors and, to me, better insight than many of the analysts. It seems like if people really looked at some of the smart retail investor analysts and what some of the smaller retail investors predicted about the future of Tesla, they would probably get the highest [level of] accuracy and remarkable insight from some of those predictions."
Speaking about improvements to the battery based on the acquisition of Maxwell, Musk admits, "It's an important piece of the puzzle, yes. I think like some of the retail investors have managed to put together several pieces of the puzzle and had the most insight."
Right after Musk says this, an analyst, Joseph Osha of JMP Securities says, "I shall have to read the blogs more."