At Tesla’s Investor Day this week, founder and CEO Elon Musk did not show the company’s next-generation vehicle. But he might have shown the public more under the hood about the inner workings of the battery-electric-vehicle company than in past years.
Musk also lectured the audience about how the world could transition from fossil fuels entirely if only the world would put him in charge.
Musk and Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn gave an expansive presentation of the possibilities of running the world on wind- and solar-generated electricity, and the need for a roughly $10 trillion investment over 10 years in stationary battery farms that will store renewable energy.
“Earth will move to a sustainable-energy economy,” Tesla’s chief executive officer said. “And it will happen in your lifetime.” It was not clear how old a person Musk was referencing when he made the pronouncement.
Tesla shares retreated following the presentation.
Key takeaways from Tesla Investor Day:
- Tesla’s next-generation vehicle platform will reduce the size of the necessary plants by almost half, while being more efficient and turning out the same volume of vehicles as its current factories. Costs per plant will be cut by 50% compared with today’s plants. By having design, engineering, software developers, finance and construction all in the same workplace, reporting to the same management chief, Tesla executives explained, they are reinventing how vehicles get produced mostly by robots (pictured, below, from Tesla presentation). The presenting team took time to ridicule the prevailing manufacturing model used by virtually every other car company.
- Tesla’s next gigafactory will be built in Monterrey, Mexico. At the end of 2022, the company had installed capacity to build 1.9 million vehicles a year. Musk’s goal is to reach capacity of 20 million vehicles for which he says the company will need 12 gigafactories in all.
- Over 50% of European charging ports in Tesla’s network are open to non-Tesla vehicles. Tesla has 10 U.S. supercharger sites open to non-Teslas for fast-charging. Tesla’s opening of its charging network was a prerequisite for it to access the White House’s EV charging infrastructure funding.
- The Cybertruck will begin ramping up production before the end of 2023 and go into full production in 2024.
- There was no hard date offered on when Tesla’s Generation 3 vehicles would go into production.
The automaker’s presentation disappointed investors who tend to want something to hang their hat on. But what Musk and Tesla presented were some meaningful updates on costs, production efficiencies and a lot of forward-looking information about where he sees the company going.
Musk’s musings about global sustainability and production efficiency, though, did not seem to impress many.
Tesla, for example, thinks everyone heating with fossil fuels should shift to using heat pumps, which don’t require fossil-fuel home heating. And he suggests the heat pumps could be a logical business for Tesla. Heat pumps are hardly new, but there are many obstacles to deploying them at scale to the point of eliminating the need for natural gas, oil and coal heating.
The company addressed the future of its Autopilot autonomous driving system and went into great detail about how it processes data from its cars on the road and mapping the world’s roads. Executives, however, did not address the recall of all Teslas equipped with the self-driving system for which customers have paid $15,000 as an added feature.
Not surprisingly, a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Tesla by a group of Tesla owners and investors who say Musk has been misleading the public about the capabilities of Autopilot and the full-self-driving claims he has been making since 2016.
Still, Musk says the future of personal mobility is both electric and autonomous.