Tesla Earnings Call: Top Investor Questions and What to Expect

By Cláudio Afonso
Render of a possible Model 2 approved by Elon Musk in December 2023 commenting on X “Good Design”
Render of a possible Model 2 approved by Elon Musk in December 2023 commenting on X “Good Design”
@Teslaconomics

Tuesday, April 23, marks one of the most expected events for Elon Musk-led company Tesla. No, it is not yet the unveil of the Robotaxi — which is planned for August 8th — but the first quarter earnings results followed by a 1-hour earnings call answering questions from analysts and shareholders.

As of today, more than 2,300 queries have been submitted by both individual and institutional investors using the Say Technologies Platform. A total of over 8,680 shareholders have engaged in the Q&A sessions, representing approximately 7.13 million shares.

Top Investor Questions

Key areas of interest among shareholders on the Say Platform include updates on Tesla's next-generation platform, advancements in Robotaxi development, progress on Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology, and the scaling up of production for the 4680 cells.

The most prominent queries, based on votes, center around the 4680 cells initiative, followed by inquiries regarding the Optimus project and updates on Tesla's Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology, particularly in anticipation of the upcoming Robotaxi reveal scheduled for August. Here’s the list of the most up-voted questions.

  1. What is the status of 4680? What is the current output?

  2. What is the current status of Optimus? Are they currently performing any factory tasks? When do you expect to start mass production?

  3. What is Tesla's current assessment of the pathway toward regulatory approval for unsupervised FSD in the US, and how should we think about the appropriate safety threshold compared to human drivers?

  4. Following Tesla's Robotaxi unveil on 8/8, what is the realistic timeline for launching a revenue generating robotaxi network?

  5. What is the progress on the cheaper next generation vehicle?

  6. Can we make FSD transfer permanent? (until FSD is fully delivered / Level 5 autonomy)

  7. Have any of the legacy automakers contacted Tesla about possibly licensing FSD in the future?

  8. What is gating the production ramp at Lathrop? Where do you see the Megapack run rate by the end of the year?

Source: Say Platform as of April 20, 9AM ET

4680 Cells

The top-voted question, currently tallying 1,500 votes and representing 3.3 million shares, seeks insights into the development status and specifics of Tesla's 4680 battery cells.

In late January 24, Tesla said it was "running one production line and one assembly line" with "four more to be installed in the third quarter" adding that it expected "to ramp order from our suppliers". 

At the time, the world's largest EV manufacturer said the 4680 production was "ahead of the ramp, with weeks of finished cells in inventory". Six weeks later, in mid-March, Tesla said it produced over 1,000 Cybertrucks’ worth of 4680 cells at its Giga Texas. Given that each Cybertruck uses 1,366 4680 cells, Tesla produced in that week 1.366 million 4680 cells.

Optimus 

The second most popular query, trailing closely behind the first by a margin of 3.2 million versus 3.3 million shares represented, pertains to an update from Tesla's CEO regarding the status of Tesla's robot, Optimus.

Elon Musk garnered attention last January when he shared a video showcasing Optimus within a Tesla factory, demonstrating the robot folding a shirt. The video swiftly gained traction, prompting inquiries, including one from Marques Brownlee, one of the most popular YouTubers, who queried Musk: "Is this video authentic or computer-generated?”. The question was not answered by Elon. 

Approximately 30 minutes later, Musk clarified that Optimus is currently unable to autonomously fold a shirt, hinting at future developments. He asserted that it will be capable of doing so "certainly," further noting that it won't be limited to a fixed environment, such as a table with a single shirt.

One month later, Elon posted a new video of Optimus walking faster and in a closer human-like way when compared to the previous walkdown video posted on the last day of January.

After these developments, Tesla shareholders and enthusiasts have been questioning Musk for a precise timeline of when these robots can support the manufacturer and turn it faster and more efficient.

Robotaxi + $25k Model

According to three sources and company messages seen by Reuters in early April, Tesla was abandoning its plan to launch the $25,000 model. Yet, Tesla‘s CEO Elon Musk quickly dismissed the report without specifying any further details. 

Later in the day, Elon Musk announced that Tesla is set to unveil its highly anticipated robotaxi on August 8th which is expected to be constructed upon Tesla's next-generation vehicle platform.

Two weeks ago, Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen commented on the rumors saying "I would just say stay tuned. Don’t always believe what you read".

In recent weeks, scrutiny has intensified among shareholders and enthusiasts regarding the accuracy of reports surrounding Tesla's $25,000 model, and whether it has been canceled or deprioritized as the company shifts its focus towards autonomous driving technology.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives, in a note released on Friday, remarked that the debate between the Model 2 and Robotaxi has gained significant attention, with investors eagerly anticipating an announcement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding the Model 2 within the next 12 to 18 months.

Deutsche Bank analyst Emanuel Rosner echoed similar sentiments earlier in the week, expressing a belief in the "high likelihood" of a delay in the Model 2 release, citing Tesla's strategic pivot towards Robotaxi technology. Rosner emphasized that the firm's Buy rating hinged on the arrival of Tesla's next-generation vehicle, originally anticipated for late next year.

On Friday, Tesla's stock plunged to a new 15-month low of $145.05 per share during pre-market trading, resulting in a market capitalization dip below $480 billion.

Earlier this week, Tesla expanded its 0 percent interest financing program to the German market, mirroring a similar initiative launched in China earlier this month. This financing option is now available for the Model Y Long Range Dual Motor or Performance variants in Germany, with the Performance model starting at €59,990 and the Long Range dual motor variant priced at €54,990.

In a significant internal announcement on Monday, Tesla disclosed a workforce reduction exceeding 10%, affecting over 14,000 employees globally.

Despite Tesla's recent announcement of the production of 433,371 vehicles, with 386,783 delivered, the figures fell short of Wall Street's expectations of 431,000 units delivered.

Impact Report: Tesla Vehicles 8x Less Likely to Catch Fire, Batteries Degrade 15% After 200k Miles

By Karan Singh

Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by producing products far superior to fossil fuel alternatives and sourcing and manufacturing them sustainably. Tesla released its 2023 Impact Report yesterday, discussing their ongoing impact on the environment and the improvements seen.

Displacing Fossil Fuels

In 2023 alone, Tesla’s impact on the environment through its vehicles, Powerwall, and Solar Roof has been massively impactful – Tesla customers avoided releasing the equivalent of 20 million metric tons of CO2e into the environment. That is the equivalent of 51 billion miles of driving an average internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

Each Tesla vehicle that is on the road avoids an average of 51 tons of CO2e emission into the environment. After just 3 years of driving, a Tesla’s lifetime emissions are lower than those of a comparable ICE vehicle. After the average lifespan of a vehicle in North America – 17 years – a single Tesla will have exceeded that value 5.5 times over.

Integrated Ecosystems

Tesla offers comprehensive ecosystems of products to address clean energy and transportation needs, from Megapack, Solar Roof, and Powerwall, to the Model S, 3, X, Y, and Cybertruck.

Tesla Solar produces power for storage in Megapacks or Powerwalls, which charge electric vehicles. Tesla also produces some of their own batteries, for both its storage applications and vehicles, enabling a complete cycle.

On the software side, products like Autobidder, Full Self-Driving, and the upcoming Robotaxi work to maximize the productivity of electricity that is stored in vehicles, helping to further displace fossil fuels in a single ecosystem of well-designed products.

Tesla's ecosystem depicted.
Tesla's ecosystem depicted.

World’s Best EVs

Tesla’s Model Y is still the best-selling vehicle in 2023, a trend likely to continue in 2024. And it’s not for little reason. It is the world’s most efficient EV, capable of running Autopilot/FSD, and is considered one of the best safety picks in both North America and Europe. Tesla’s data has also proven that they are, on average, 7.63 times safer than a traditional vehicle when running Autopilot.

Additionally, the Model Y is priced $3,000 USD below the average new vehicle in the US before the Federal EV Tax Credit – a difference of $17,000 after factoring in the credit and gas savings over 5 years.

Battery Degradation

Model 3/Y battery degradation over time
Model 3/Y battery degradation over time

Battery degradation is often brought up as a concern for EVs and the environment. Batteries fade away, become useless, and cannot be recycled. According to Tesla’s data and experience, this is far from the truth.

In fact, Tesla has found that their batteries degrade about 15% after 200,000 miles – the equivalent of the average lifetime of a vehicle. And in fact, they do even better in the cold than they do in the heat, with better degradation performance in Canada over the US.

Another interesting fact is that Tesla vehicles in particular – are 8 times less likely to be victim to a vehicle fire, compared against the US average.

Sustainable Sourcing

Sustainably sourcing materials is essential to reach Tesla’s vision of a world with reduced environmental impacts. In 2023, Tesla recovered enough battery materials to produce 43,000 Model Y RWD vehicles, while also sourcing Gigafactory Berlin with 100% renewable energy.

Overall, Tesla solar owners generated enough energy to power all Tesla locations, including all the Mega and Giga Factories, and all other facilities – over 3 times.

Tesla has also reduced water use by 25% over the last 5 years for vehicle production, marking a new milestone low – at 2.48 cubic meters of water, versus 3.37 cubic meters of water for an average ICE vehicle.

Tesla Breaks Ground on New Megafactory in Shanghai

By Karan Singh

Tesla broke ground on a new Megafactory in Shanghai’s Lingang free trade zone pilot program. This factory will be Tesla’s first foray into battery production outside of the United States, mirroring its direction in Lathrop, California.

Batteries, Not Cars

Megafactory Shanghai won’t be producing cars but rather will be producing Megapacks, which are grid-scale battery solutions that can power entire electricity grids.

Each massive Megapack battery unit, about the size of a shipping container, can deliver about 1.2 megawatts of power capacity, with 3.9 megawatt-hours of electricity. A single Megapack unit can power approximately 3,600 homes for an hour.

The Megafactory is scheduled to begin production in early 2025, with production goals of 10,000 Megapack units per year.

Sustainable Energy and Megapack

One of Tesla's Megapacks
One of Tesla's Megapacks

Tesla’s mission is more than just producing self-driving cars – it’s to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. As part of this mission, Megapack and grid-scale energy solutions are key to offset energy costs and carbon emissions when wind, solar, or hydro are at reduced capacities.

Megapack helps to maximize renewable energy use, minimize carbon use, and allow base-load capacities like nuclear power to maintain their output. Similar energy-storage solutions like pumped storage hydropower are expensive, require specific terrain features, and can take years to construct. Megapack units ship assembled, allowing for rapid installation with minimal complexity.

Lathrop vs Shanghai

Tesla’s fairly new facility in Lathrop, California is a mirror of the new facility being built in Shanghai. However, just like the differences between Fremont, Giga Texas, and Giga Shanghai, Mega Shanghai will likely incorporate new technologies to improve productivity. Additionally, it serves as a way to serve the energy market in the Indo-Pacific region, which has been at the forefront of energy development in the last decade.

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