Tesla will not build the often-delayed Cybertruck in any substantial numbers until sometime in 2024, CEO Elon Musk acknowledges.
Musk first showed a prototype of the Cybertruck in 2019 but Tesla has delayed the production version of the truck numerous times, from 2021 to 2022 and lastly to 2023During a call with investors and analysts, he says the electric-vehicle maker finally will begin ramping up production this summer.
“The start of production is very slow. I wouldn’t expect volume production (soon). It will not be a significant contributor to the bottom line in ’23 but it will be in ’24. It is one of those products that come along once in a while.”
Zach Kirkhorn, Tesla’s chief financial officer, says equipment required to build the Cybertruck is now in place inside the company’s assembly plant near Austin, TX.
Musk also says he is confident Tesla’s controversial Full Self Driving system, which is under investigation by regulators, has enormous potential. The system already is far superior to other advanced driver-assistance systems now on the market because of Tesla’s in-house expertise in artificial intelligence, he says.
“Tesla is as much a software company as a hardware company. It’s also an AI company…We don’t even know who would be a distant second. I don’t think you can see second place with a telescope. I don’t think it’s any of the car companies,” Musk says, adding Tesla’s only potential rivals probably are in China.
“We have a lot of respect for the car companies in China,” he says. Tesla’s Gigafactory in Shanghai builds Tesla models for the Chinese market.
Musk expects Tesla to increase its vehicle production this year by about one-third, to 1.8 million units, as the pace of production at its new plants in Austin and Berlin increases during 2023. Because demand will remain strong, production could reach 2 million units this year if the supply situation improves, he believes.
Despite the threat of a recession, Tesla can afford the price cuts it put in place earlier this month. “We’re in a strong position to get through a recession because we haven’t got any debt and we have more than $20 billion in cash,” Musk says.
Musk also says he does not believe the political controversy surrounding his personal acquisition of Twitter has hurt the Tesla brand: “I have 127 million followers. It suggests I am reasonably liked by my followers. The count speaks for itself. I think Twitter is an incredibly powerful tool for driving demand for Tesla.”
During 2022, Tesla automotive revenues increased 51% over 2021, to $71.5 billion, and operating expenses came to $7.2 billion. With the application of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, Tesla ended the year with a $12.6 billion net profit.