Tesla Shareholder Meeting Yields New Product Promises, Retained Grip on Power for Musk

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
tesla shareholder meeting yields new product promises retained grip on power for

Elon Musk’s role as chairman and CEO of Tesla remained intact after Tuesday night’s annual shareholder meeting, where a proposal to split the duties between two people sank once it came to a vote. Three directors, including Musk’s brother Kimbal, also saw re-election last night, despite protests from some shareholders who feel they lacked experience.

With the challenge to Musk’s dominance squashed, it was then time to do the thing he does best: placate investors with assurances and rosy production timelines. Anyone interested in a Model Y?

The fourth model in the automaker’s lineup — a crossover — will go into production in the first half of 2020, Musk claimed, with the public unveiling occurring next March. (The meeting included an new teaser of the Model Y, seen above.) A semi truck and resurrected Roadster will also begin production at that time, he said.

Cue jokes about bridges and swampland.

Before any of this can occur, Musk needs to build the necessary capacity and work out production troubles for the existing Model 3, which started production last summer. A reports continue cropping up, detailing safety issues and assembly line snafus, Musk claimed the company was well on its way to reaching its deferred goal of 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of June.

It’s “quite likely” the goal will be reached, the CEO claimed. Some investors question the reliability of the figure, as the company is known to build a large number of cars in short bursts, with slow periods in between. Musk says there’s a third assembly line in the works to boost capacity. Should the company achieve its target, construction of pricier dual-motor and performance models should commence in July, with the base, $35,000 Model 3 variant appearing in small numbers late this year. Full production of that sedan won’t reach volume production until the first quarter of 2019, Musk said.

As for the troubling reports about the goings-on at Fremont Assembly, Musk said most injuries are the result of repetitive stress and back strain, not accidents. He then became emotional.

“At Tesla we build our cars with love,” Musk told the shareholders. “At a lot of other companies, they’re built by marketing or the finance department and there’s no soul. We’re not perfect but we pour our heart and soul into it and we really care.”

One shareholder in the audience expressed concern as to whether the company’s option of a “vegan” car (no animal products used in its manufacture) was truly vegan. As an online pundit stated, that might have been the moment we reached “peak California.”

For nervous investors, Musk had reassuring words. The company has no plans to raise debt or equity, he said, and expects “positive GAAP net income and positive cash flow in Q3 and Q4.” Many investors worry about the company’s sustainability, given the clip at which Tesla burns through cash.

As we wait to see whether these predictions and assurances pan out, there could be news on the China front in as early as a month’s time. Musk wants a Tesla/battery assembly plant in Shanghai, and it seems there’s already some groundwork in place. Another plant, this one in Europe, could start construction by the end of this year, Musk said.

[Sources: TheStreet, Reuters] [Image: Tesla]

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  • Orenwolf Orenwolf on Jun 06, 2018

    There are basically two paths here, right? Either Tesla ramps up or it won't. Either way, all the micro-examination of every issue will be old news. If they do ramp up, then that's that - they start fulfilling orders and folks move on to gripe about the next surely-fatal thing for Tesla (probably autopilot, or retaliation on solar panel tariffs or whatever). I fully expect that, like Apple, Tesla will always be "doomed" in the eyes of some. However, it's also possible that they don't ramp up, that the whole thing comes tumbling down, and the US loses an automaker that's seen as "aspirational" by a lot of the rest of the world (and indeed, targeted by a lot of international luxury makers). If this happens, no doubt, it'll be because of Musk, but it looks like those with money in the game are prepared to take that bet. For my part, I still have a model 3 reservation; I'm waiting for the AWD model to order. I'll post a review (vs my Mazda6) once I can.

    • Mcs Mcs on Jun 06, 2018

      I noticed that the article didn't mention the improvements in battery costs and energy density that were disclosed at the meeting.

  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Jun 06, 2018

    If you really want to keep up with Sir Elon, you should go to the Bloomberg web page that tracks all things Elon: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/elon-musk-goals/

  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.
  • ToolGuy From the listing: "Oil changes every April & October (full-synth), during which I also swap out A/S (not the stock summer MPS3s) and Blizzak winter tires on steelies, rotating front/back."• While ToolGuy applauds the use of full synthetic motor oil,• ToolGuy absolutely abhors the waste inherent in changing out a perfectly good motor oil every 6 months.The Mobil 1 Extended Performance High Mileage I run in our family fleet has a change interval of 20,000 miles. (Do I go 20,000 miles before changing it? No.) But this 2014 Focus has presumably had something like 16 oil changes in 36K miles, which works out to a 2,250 mile average change interval. Complete waste of time, money and perfectly good natural gas which could have gone to a higher and better use.Mobil 1 also says their oil miraculously expires at 1 year, and ToolGuy has questions. Is that one year in the bottle? One year in the vehicle? (Have I gone longer than a year in some of our vehicles? Yes, I have. Did I also add Lucas Oil 10131 Pure Synthetic Oil Stabilizer during that time, in case you are concerned about the additive package losing efficacy? Yes, I might have -- as far as you know.)TL;DR: I aim for annual oil changes and sometimes miss that 'deadline' by a few months; 12,000 miles between oil changes bothers me not at all, if you are using a quality synthetic which you should be anyway.