LA Private

Mr. Electric’s turbo-charged mouth redlining again

A busy, busy annual meeting for Tesla on Tuesday has seen CEO Elon Musk reveal a gloomy outlook for the US and much of the global economy, again promise the start of deliveries of its long mooted Cybertruck, forecast a surge in sales of its EVs, start advertising with a small spend and push towards new technologies in its vehicles.

The meeting came days after Musk revealed that former NBCUniversal advertising head Linda Yaccarino would succeed him at Twitter, replacing him in about five weeks’ time.

Analysts cheered the move as an important one that will hopefully result in Musk paying more attention to his primary company, namely Tesla.

Musk stepping down as Twitter CEO “will be a positive for Tesla’s stock starting to finally remove this lingering albatross from the story,” Wedbush analyst (and long-time Tesla follower) Dan Ives wrote in a note this week.

Musk, in answer to a shareholder question, later told the meeting that he would not be stepping down as CEO of the EV maker.

But there was little mention of reports from China that the company seems to be positioning itself for a major expansion of its Shanghai Gigafactory, already Tesla’s largest car making plant.

Musk told the meeting Tesla will deliver its first Cybertrucks this year, and should be able to deliver 250,000 to 500,000 a year once production has settled down.

He said he’ll be driving a Cybertruck on a daily basis. He has already promised a launch or later this year, but also said production of the new vehicle will not ramp up until 2024.

Sceptics point out that the Cybertruck was first revealed in 2019 with production to start in 2021. Obviously that was impacted by the pandemic, but there were technical difficulties, especially getting the price down to a competitive level.

Musk told the meeting that while Tesla will be well-position for the long run as a result of the forecast economic slowdown, many companies will fail this year.

He also said the company’s Model Y will be the “number one selling car on Earth this year” and added that the company is laying the groundwork to produce 2 million vehicles a year – a reported plan for expansion in Shanghai would achieve that goal.

Tesla may reconsider its long stance against traditional advertising. “We’ll try out a little advertising and see how it goes,” Musk told the meeting. That’s acknowledgement of the intensifying pace of competition in the EV markets in the US and China especially.

He said Tesla has plans to produce a new kind of drive unit, which will require less silicon carbide than prior drive trains, and no rare earth elements.

Tesla will also switch to a new, low voltage architecture in its cars which should require less copper.

Earlier this month Tesla broke ground on a new lithium processing refinery in southern Texas at a cost of at least $US375 million.

Musk said the refinery will produce enough battery-grade lithium for 1 million electric vehicles by 2025.

That would make Tesla the largest processor of lithium in North America with an annual capacity of around 50,000 tonnes of hydroxide a year.

He said the company will still rely on existing suppliers like Albermarle and Livent to reach its 2023 sales goal of around 1.8 million vehicles, up from 1.31 million in 2022.