If you are one of the many would-be Tesla Cybertruck buyers anxiously waiting for your pickup truck to be built, your patience is still aways from being rewarded. Production of the electric truck should begin this summer, but don’t get too excited about the timing because the numbers will be small, Tesla CEO Elon Musk told investors on a call to report fourth-quarter 2022 earnings.
In the earnings report, Tesla says the Cybertruck is on track to begin production “later this year” in Texas and there will be additional details about “our next generation vehicle platform” on March 1. During analyst questions, Musk and chief financial officer Zach Kirkhorn said equipment is being installed at the Texas plant now and production is slated to start this summer. But “the start of production is always very slow,” Musk cautioned. “I wouldn’t put too much stock in start of production.”
Volume production of the Cybertruck will not be until 2024, well after Ford, Rivian, and General Motors have entered the electric pickup market. The timing puts it years after Tesla first unveiled the steel truck in 2019 with its stark angles at an event marked by a demonstration of its unbreakable glass windows during which the windows actually broke upon contact.
Musk said he was wearing his t-shirt with the smashed glass during the call as he told Wall Street that the Cybertruck “won’t be a significant contributor” in 2023.
Record Tesla Earnings Still Disappoint Analysts
The update comes as Tesla reported a record fourth-quarter profit of nearly $3.7 billion, which was below Wall Street expectations, adding to investor worries about the ability to generate promised sales levels and revenue given economic conditions and increased competition for EVs. All automakers have big EV plans and pundits see them increasingly eating into Tesla’s market share.
Tesla started the year by cutting vehicle prices by as much as 20 percent to stimulate sales. But the CEO denied reports that demand has fallen below supply—boasting that Tesla is seeing orders at twice the rate of production and some prices could increase as a result.
Musk: Twitter Shows I’m Popular
There are also concerns that Musk’s focus has drifted from running Tesla to his challenge of fixing Twitter, which prompted the CEO to defend himself. He says his 127 million followers show he is popular and said Twitter is a powerful tool for driving demand for Tesla.
The automaker’s outlook calls for 1.8 million vehicles this year—up from 1.3 million in 2022—and if there are no major natural disasters, output could reach 2 million, Musk says. But those figures are still below some of his previous promises. His grandiose plan is to sell 20 million vehicles annually by 2030, making Tesla the largest carmaker by volume.
To that end, Tesla announced it will invest $3.6 billion to expand its operations in Reno, Nevada, including two new battery cell plants and increasing production of the Tesla Semi truck. There are also plans to expand the plant in Texas which will build the Cybertruck.
Mighty Big Boasts
Musk showed little hubris during the earnings call. He described Tesla as the best hardware and software company, as well as a leader in artificial intelligence. “The car is like a robot on four wheels, and Optimus is a robot with two legs. As we move toward solving real-world AI, we don’t see anyone close to us,” Musk said, noting this has orders of magnitude market cap implications. When (or if) Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology reaches full autonomy, Musk sees Tesla as having the most valuable fleet, with the largest increase, in history.
Who is Tesla’s competition? When it comes to self-driving vehicles, Musk said he and his Autopilot and FSD team could not think of a distant second. “You can’t see second place with a telescope. At least we can’t.” Maybe, in five years, someone will figure it out, Musk says, but it won’t be any of today’s existing legacy carmakers. If he had to speculate, he cites Chinese companies as the hardest-working, most competitive, and expects one of them is most likely to be second to Tesla—even though he says Tesla is winning in China and attracting the best talent.
And while stock can drop to unbelievably low levels, long term Musk said he believes Tesla can be the most valuable company (not just automaker) “on earth.”
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