Tesla CEO Elon Musk, at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, laid out timelines for various projects and upcoming products-while also acknowledging his tendencies to be late in keeping to those timelines.
Among the upcoming products: the Model Y crossover, which will probably first be shown next March and go on sale about two years from now, in the first half of 2020. Musk promised “something similar for Semi and Roadster,” with the Semi reformulated for more functionality than what was originally planned.
As for the Roadster, Musk boasted that what has been shown so far-at last November's first glimpse of the project-is only the base model. With what he teased as a SpaceX option package, Musk said, "It's important to for us to show with the Roadster that an electric vehicle can outperform a gasoline car in every way."
Moving in the opposite direction of the market, one other future product was confirmed by Musk: a true compact car, slotting below the Model 3 in size, in less than five years.
Musk, joined by other members of the executive team, remained on his best behavior during the meeting, making witty and heartfelt remarks throughout. Shareholders, in a vote, sided with Tesla official positions, opting to allow Antonio Gracias, James Murdoch, and Kimbal Musk to serve a three-year term on Tesla’s board, despite dissenting claims that they don’t have enough distance from Musk. Another vote, to install an independent chairman-to balance power with Musk as CEO-also failed.
Model Y Starting to Take Form
The presentation included a new teaser image of the Model Y, a vehicle that has seen several changes in course over the past couple of years. Back in 2012, Tesla said the Model 3 and Model Y would be complementary models. But then Musk indicated that the Model Y might get falcon-wing doors like the Model X crossover, and just over a year ago he teased that the Model Y would be on a different platform than the Model 3. But by last summer Musk was confirming that his executive team had reeled him “back from the cliffs of insanity,” and thus, he said, the Model Y will share the platform and underpinnings of the Model 3 sedan.
Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory, where the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 are assembled, has been ruled out for the Y. Musk had previously said that the company would decide on a production location by the fourth quarter of this year. One possible location for Y production is the Nevada Gigafactory, where battery packs and modules are assembled. Musk has said that all future Gigafactories will include vehicle production; he didn’t specifically confirm that about the Nevada facility, but he said that the plant is only one-third completed and expansion will continue for four or five years.
Tesla will soon announce details regarding its factory in Shanghai, China, and then a Gigafactory in Europe is the next thing. Eventually the company aims to have 10 to 12 Gigafactories worldwide.
Model 3 Ramp-Up Still Ramping Up
Tesla continues to ramp up production of its Model 3, for which it was holding a backlog of more than 450,000 reservations at the end of the first quarter. Musk said the company’s assembly lines are currently making 3500 vehicles per week and are on track to build 5000 vehicles per week by the end of June. Priorities now are creating a right-hand-drive version for some other markets and homologating the car for Europe, where there’s strong demand but deliveries haven’t yet begun. Musk said “volume production” of the $35,000 base Model 3 will start by early 2019.
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Tesla also is making some changes to speed up service for the groundswell of Model 3s. It’s creating separate Tesla body-shop repair centers in major metro locations by adding an annex onto existing service centers. In some instances, Musk said, same-day body repair is possible through pre-stocked parts. On the sales side, actual Model 3 test drives will start at most stores by the end of next month, he added.
Tesla lists 9969 of its Superchargers (DC fast chargers) worldwide at present and said that its next-generation (Generation 3) Supercharger-with integrated solar and battery systems-will (“hopefully,” in Musk’s words) start arriving toward the end of this year.
It’s a long list of claims. We’ll see how well Musk can stick to them.
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