Tesla CEO Elon Musk walked into the EV maker’s annual meeting facing a slew of tough questions and, as usual, overwhelmed attendees with a slew of positives resulting in enough happy investors to see the stock jump above $220 a share to start the day.
However, the enthusiasm of the previous night’s meeting wasn’t enough to sustain the momentum and the stock fell nearly 6% to just over $211 a share in mid-day trading.
The brash leader of the world’s biggest seller of battery electric vehicles swept aside concerns about ongoing issues with crashes involving Autopilot, day-to-day funding of the company and demand for the company’s first mainstream vehicles.
While touching on those subjects, i.e. “We don’t have a demand problem” for the Model 3, he hit on the EV aficionado’s erogenous zones, such as new quarterly production records, new products, extended range, charging at non-Tesla chargers and improved battery production.
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He told shareholders that the company would soon have a vehicle with more than a 400-mile range, although not revealing which car that would be. Currently, the Model S can go as far as 370 miles and the soon-to-come roadster is slated to travel 620 miles. The Model 3 tops out at 310 miles.
He bragged on the company’s coming pickup without revealing any real details, other than to repeat that he wants it to be better than the industry-standard Ford F-150, cost less than $50,000 and that it looks like a steampunk version of a pickup.
Musk noted the company was likely to set a new record for vehicle production in the second quarter, taking pages from an email sent to employees last month. He noted that much of that was driven by strong demand for the Model 3, which should offset worries by analysts and investors that the desire for the sedan may have dried up.
“Tesla always shows cool stuff it has planned for the future in its conferences,” said Akshay Anand, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
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“However, the focus needs to be the Model 3, as the continued rollout of the model and its quality will make or break the company, and ultimately be Tesla’s guide to true profitability. Even with trucks, roadsters, solar roofs, and other sexy products, the Model 3 is the key to the Tesla house.”
To that end, Musk noted that the demand for the vehicle has shifted, saying that 90% of orders for the sedan are from customers who don’t already have a reservation for the Model 3. Additionally, the company started shipping vehicles to China and to Europe as well. These are the reasons for the record, or near-record, production levels for the quarter.
“Sales have far exceeded production, and production has been pretty good,” Musk said. “So, we’re actually doing well, and we have a decent shot at a record quarter on every level.”
In addition to the pickup and extended range, he noted that the company is nearly ready to unveil a new feature he called “advanced summon.” He said the new version allows owners press a button in the company’s app and summon their car to them. The car will then come to the owner’s location all while navigating parking lots and avoiding pedestrians.
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“We’re making steady improvements to it. It’s close to being amazing. It’s not quite there but it’s close,” he said. “There’s a lot of complexity in parking lots.”