Musk Tweeting Oh So Loud but Saying Oh So Little

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

From all reports, it seems Elon Musk was up to his Twitter best – promising vision but delivering little that was new in his new Master Plan 3 for Tesla.

The presentation was long on vision and claimed achievements, but short on specifics about any new Tesla products or services, especially a lower-priced EV.

Musk said even predicted: “Earth can and will move to a sustainable energy economy, and will do so in your lifetime.”

Investors were unimpressed and the shares fell close to 7% at one stage before closing down 5.6% in after-hours trading. They had earlier fallen more than 1% ahead of the briefing’s start in Austin, Texas on Wednesday afternoon after Wall Street had ended regular trading.

Perhaps the big headline was Tesla’s goal to produce 20 million electric vehicles a year by 2030, a series of company executives reiterated at the investor function.

Mexico looks like being the home for a new Tesla plant – in the border city of Monterrey, according to the Mexican government.

If it happens it will join plants in Shanghai, California, Texas and Berlin.

Musk confirmed that but wouldn’t be specific on the timing, stating “a proper event’ would be held later, whatever that means.

From the tone of the commentary and reports of the briefing there was nothing new from Musk or Tesla you couldn’t have got by reading his tweets.

There was also nothing there for suppliers of renewable materials, especially lithium and nickel which have upset Musk with their volatile price moves in the past year. Tesla though says it has started building a lithium refinery -but we don’t know whether that will be hydroxide or carbonate.

And there was no news on those reports last month of a possible bid for Canadian based lithium explorer, Sigma Lithium.

Tesla’s manufacturing leader, Tom Zhu (who used to run the huge Giga factory in Shanghai, the company’s largest car making facility) revealed that Tesla had produced 4 million cars as of Wednesday.

“It took us 12 years to build the first million, and about 18 months to the second million. The third million, 11 months. Then less than 7 months to build the 4 millionth,” Zhu said touting the company’s improving operational efficiency.

He said that the company plans to build new car and battery cell factories, and also to produce more cars each year at its existing plants

A total of 1.31 million vehicles were produced in 2022 – the highest ever for Tesla.

Musk and his executives did claim the company would have halve production costs and that the new generation drivetrain for the EVs will not use rare earths – but as to timing and process?

Tesla executives led by Musk discussed everything from a white-paper plan for the globe to embrace sustainable energy to the company’s innovation in managing its operations from manufacturing to service.

Musk had been expected to lay out a plan to make a small, affordable electric vehicle that would broaden his brand’s appeal and fend off competition, and he presented a slide showing two disguised future mode, according the Reuters.

Some websites reminded readers what Musk said in his Master Plan Part Deux back in 2016. CNBC pointed out that that plan had “not been completely fulfilled”. It included four main objectives:

  1. “Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage”
  2. “Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments”
  3. “Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning”
  4. “Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it”

Self-driving is problematic, all major segments of the motoring market have not been addressed and the solar roofs are also problematic.

Before the function, Reuters provided the biggest news with a story saying Tesla is in the midst of a revamp of its popular best seller, Model Y.

“The changes to the Model Y – code-named Project Juniper at Tesla – involve the exterior and interior of the crossover electric vehicle with a target of starting production in 2024, according to two of the people, who asked not to be identified because the planning remains private.

“A revamp of the Model Y would mean Tesla is on track to offer new versions of its top-selling models over the next two years, addressing pressure in markets like China and the United States for a visible reboot of its best-selling vehicles in the face of increasing options for EV buyers,” Reuters reported.

“Tesla has already been working to retool its Shanghai assembly plant to prepare for a revamped version of its Model 3 sedan, a project codenamed Highland by Tesla,” Reuters reported.

No details of the previously flagged $US25,000 EV that Musk seemed to forget about after admitting the difficulties of shrinking its batteries while maintaining power.

Tesla has been struggling to scale up the production of the so-called 4680 batteries (which were supposed to go into the cheap EV).

Executives said Tesla plans to start production of battery materials factories this year, with a lithium refinery (near Corpus Christi in Texas) and a cathode facility also in Texas. But it did not give an update to its production volume of 4680 cells.

No wonder the shares sold off.

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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