Image credits: Tesla / snapshot
Tesla held its annual shareholder meeting in Austin on Tuesday, an event Tesla has now taken to calling its Cyber Roundup.
Five proposals were on the agenda, including one to push Tesla’s board of directors to come up with a public succession plan for CEO Elon Musk and other “key people” whose behavior and loss could endanger the company and shareholders.
While Tesla will release official vote stats later in the week, the board has recommended shareholders vote against the lead person risk proposal, so it likely won’t pass.
“At a time when Tesla’s technological leadership should be on full display, the investment community has largely looked at us adrift, with management focused on all things non-Tesla, and watching Tesla brand favorability drop by 15 points last year is costing us profit margins, said Karen Robertsdottir, a contributor in Reykjavík, Iceland, during the event.
“When people look at this company…they see the company as synonymous with its CEO, and the discussion turns to everything except where it should focus.”
Without saying so outright, Robertsdottir nodded to many investors’ concerns about Musk’s controversial online presence, as well as his potential distraction from Tesla following his purchase and control of social media platform Twitter. Musk has also been criticized for repeatedly selling Tesla shares to fund the Twitter buyout.
When Musk officially bought Twitter in late October, Tesla shares closed at $228.52. On Tuesday, they closed at $166.52.
Musk said on Tuesday that he has no intention of stepping down as CEO of Tesla.
He said, “I think Tesla is going to play an important role in artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence and I think I need to supervise that to make sure it’s good.”
Artificial general intelligence stands for “artificial general intelligence”, which is the concept that AI can learn to accomplish any intellectual task that can be performed by humans or animals.
Tesla shares remained fairly flat after the meeting, up just 1% in after-hours trading. The lackluster reaction from investors may have been in response to most of the meeting simply replaying highlights from the past 12 months, rather than sharing much news.
However, Musk introduced updates to the Cybertruck and Roadster, teased two new electric cars, said Tesla may change its advertising strategy and shared his macroeconomic forecast for next year. Tesla also announced JB Straubel as a member of the board of directors.
JB Straubel returned to Tesla as a board member
Tesla shareholders elected JB Straubel as an independent board of directors. Attendees at the shareholder event cheered the return of the former Tesla tech CEO and co-founder. Straubel is also the founder and CEO of battery recycling startup Redwood Materials.
The shareholders also elected three directors to serve three-year terms. Tesla nominated Musk, Straubel, and current president Robin Denholm.
Straubel will take over the position vacated by Hiromichi Mizuno, former chief investment officer of the $1.5 trillion Japanese Pension Fund.
The new board member joined Tesla in 2004 and served as CTO for 14 years. Straubel was behind Tesla’s battery technology and led the construction and concept of the Gigafactory Nevada, as well as the Model 3 sedan’s production ramp. Straubel left Tesla in 2019 and was replaced by Drew Baglino, Vice President of Technology.
Musk teases two new electric vehicles
During the event, Musk teased two new electric cars that will join Tesla’s lineup. The CEO said Tesla was in the process of building one and designing another, but it wasn’t clear if he meant Tesla building a prototype or a production vehicle.
Musk said he didn’t want to get into the details of the new cars, which would require their own launch events, but Tesla showed off a silhouette of one of the vehicles. Depending on the size, it’s likely that Tesla was snapping up the $25,000 hatchback that Musk mentioned in 2020 during the company’s Battery Day.
Both new cars coming to Tesla’s lineup are expected to be more affordable vehicles that sell in much larger quantities.
“I think Elon will probably make over 5 million units a year of those two models combined,” Musk said.
Musk said Tesla will deliver its first Cybertrucks later this year and will be able to deliver 250,000 to 500,000 annually once production begins.
Tesla first announced the Cybertruck in 2019, but production of the vehicles has been repeatedly delayed. On Tuesday, Musk apologized for the delay and promised the product would be better than expected.
In July last year, the CEO said that Tesla aims to start production of the Cybertruck in the summer of 2023.
Musk noted during Tuesday’s shareholder meeting that the Cybertruck will have plenty of attachment points so that third parties can develop accessories to enhance the truck and “turn it into a buggy.” Last week, during Tesla’s opening ceremony for a lithium refinery plant in Texas, Musk drove a Cybertruck complete with a roof rack attachment. Musk also said that the car would be “waterproof enough to serve briefly as a boat”.
Production of the next generation Tesla Roadster has been delayed again
“We expect to complete the engineering and design of the next generation Tesla Roadster this year and hopefully start production – this is not a commitment – and hopefully start production next year,” Musk said.
Musk has referred to the roadster as the “cherry icing on the cake,” meaning he doesn’t expect it to be a huge contributor to revenue.
“It will be a modest contributor to profitability, but it will be sick,” he said.
The second-generation Roadster, an electric sports car that made a surprise debut in November 2017, was supposed to hit the market in 2020 but was repeatedly delayed as the high-priced car took a backseat to other Tesla products like the Model 3 and Model 3. Y.
“Don’t look at the markets for the next 12 months”
Musk has predicted that the next year will be difficult for the economy due to a variety of factors. He said higher interest rates would have a significant impact on the affordability of cars.
“The vast majority of people buy cars on a monthly payment basis, so it’s like how much is the monthly payment? … Can they make the payment as interest rates increase and credit tightens?”
Musk noted that most banks are just struggling to survive in the aftermath of the crisis triggered by the Silicon Valley bank collapse, which means that “increasing their auto loan portfolio isn’t the first thing on their minds.”
On a global macro level, Musk expects the next 12 months to be tough for everyone, including Tesla. He expects to see a lot of companies go bust, but said Tesla is well positioned to weather the storm and “emerge stronger than ever.”
“It’s important to remember that there are good times and there are dark times, but then the good times follow the dark times,” Musk said. So my advice is not to look at the markets for the next 12 months. If there is a dip, buy the dip, I think you won’t regret it.”
Tesla to experience traditional advertising
Tesla, a company that has long avoided traditional advertising, is going to try a few ads to see how it goes.
Tesla doesn’t pay for traditional advertising like other automakers. And she didn’t really need to. The company has become incredibly popular through other marketing methods, such as emails, referral programs that incentivize existing owners to attract customers, and, of course, Musk’s many tweets.
Now, Musk appears ready to change that line of thinking as the company aims to promote new car features and advertise the affordability of its cars.
“There are amazing features and functions about Teslas that people don’t know about, and even though there are obviously a lot of people who follow my Tesla account and mine…he preaches the choir, and the choir is already convinced.”
We don’t yet know what Tesla’s advertising campaign will look like, but many people are already speculating that Twitter will be the home of Tesla’s first ads.
“Tesla will have a ChatGPT moment”
Nary a Tesla event passes where Musk isn’t flashing angrily about the capabilities of AI for the auto industry — Musk said Tuesday that it’s “by far the most advanced AI in the real world.”
Today, this AI is manifested in Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system, bewilderingly called Full Self-Driving (FSD). The latest version of the FSD can handle both urban and highway driving tasks, but it still requires the human to remain alert and take control of the vehicle as needed. Nearly 400,000 Tesla owners in North America purchased the $15,000 pilot program.
The other way Tesla’s AI will manifest is the company’s humanoid robot, Optimus. Tesla showed off new Optimus development and testing videos at its shareholders event.
“As full self-driving approaches more and more artificial intelligence in the generalized real world, the same software can be transferred to a humanoid robot,” Musk said.
“I expect that the majority of Tesla’s long-term value will be Optimus,” the CEO continued, repeating a point he made before.
After the contributor event, Musk joined CNBC’s David Faber for an interview that covered a wide range of topics, from Tesla to Twitter, content editing to freedom of speech, AI ethics and Musk’s early investment in OpenAI, the startup behind the popular conversation. AI ChatGPT model.
“Tesla will have its ChatGPT moment if not this year, then no later than next year,” Musk said, referring to the technology’s rapid exponential penetration. “Suddenly 3 million cars will be able to drive themselves without anyone. Then 5 million, then 10 million.”
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