New Tesla Vehicles, Including Affordable Models, on the Horizon with Limited Information from Musk

Tesla’s Q1 filing highlights demand for new models while Musk shifts focus to robots.

[April 23, 6:07 PM EST: This article has been revised with information from Tesla’s earnings conference call.]Tesla shared its quarterly financial results, which exceeded analysts’ expectations. The electric car company reported a significant increase in revenue compared to the previous quarter, driven by strong sales of its vehicles. Moreover, Tesla announced that it had achieved a record number of deliveries during the quarter, showcasing continued demand for its products.During the earnings call, Tesla’s CEO discussed the company’s progress in expanding its production capacity and developing new models. He emphasized the importance of innovation and sustainability in Tesla’s long-term strategy. Additionally, he highlighted the company’s efforts to improve efficiency and reduce costs, which have contributed to its financial success.Overall, Tesla’s strong performance in the recent quarter demonstrates its resilience and growth potential in the competitive electric vehicle market. The company remains focused on advancing its technology and increasing its market share while maintaining its commitment to environmental responsibility.

Recently, there has been some speculation about whether Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is prioritizing the car manufacturing aspect of his company or if he has shifted his focus elsewhere. It seems that to the disappointment of investors, customers, and supporters, Tesla’s current emphasis appears to be on robotics, artificial intelligence, and self-driving taxis instead of the promised $25,000 electric vehicle. This shift comes at a time when Tesla’s range of vehicles is aging and facing tougher competition from emerging electric car brands.

Tesla’s Q1 2024 financial report, which was unveiled today before its quarterly earnings call, appears to confirm that new vehicles are on the horizon, including models that are described as “more affordable.”

On the other hand, the CEO didn’t have much to comment on these particular models. Instead, he focused on discussing AI, the robotaxi service, the Optimus robot, and autonomous driving.

The report stated, “We have revised our upcoming vehicle range to expedite the introduction of new models before our initially planned production start in the latter half of 2025. These upcoming vehicles, which will include more budget-friendly options, will incorporate elements of the next-generation platform along with features from our existing platforms. They will also be capable of being manufactured on the same production lines as our current vehicle lineup.”

During the earnings call, Musk stated, “So we expect it to be more like early 2025, if not late this year. It’s not contingent on any new factory or massive new production line. It’ll be made on our current production lines much more efficiently. And we think this should allow us to get to over 3 million vehicles of capacity.” Tesla produced about 1.8 million vehicles in 2023.

Musk showed little inclination to provide further details on a concrete product roadmap. Throughout the call on Tuesday evening, he either avoided or dismissed questions about future plans, including a query from an analyst about whether “new products” referred to updates such as the Highland Model 3 or completely new vehicles.

Instead, Musk was focused on discussing not the competition with Hyundai or Nissan, but rather on the plans to establish a fleet of self-driving taxis resembling services like Airbnb or Uber.

In a conversation with an analyst, Musk emphasized, “We should be thought of as an AI/robotics company. If you value Tesla as just like an auto company… it’s just the wrong framework. And if you ask the wrong question, the right answer is impossible.”

Both Musk and the current report don’t provide the level of detail that numerous investors and Tesla observers were likely hoping for: an official confirmation regarding the $25,000 electric vehicle, along with potential unveilings of new SUVs and luxury cars to take over from the older Model S, X, Y, and 3. (There’s talk about the Roadster too, but similar to the delayed Cybertruck, it’s expected to cater to a high-end market and may face delays.)

Earlier, the robotaxi—reportedly some kind of fully autonomous vehicle that Tesla will deploy in an unspecified new “service”—was said to ride on the same next-generation platform as the more affordable compact car. But earlier this month Reuters reported that program had been canceled, something Musk later denied. Its current status is unclear, but industry observers believe that more affordable EVs will be key to wider adoption, and that Tesla is positioned to deliver on them first—that is, if competitors from China and even players like Kia and Ford don’t beat Tesla to the punch.

Apart from the Cybertruck, which debuted at a higher price tag and lower range than expected, most of Tesla’s recent releases have involved enhancements of current models, such as the improved Model 3. Today, Tesla officially introduced the Performance version of this sedan. However, entirely fresh models developed from scratch are absent, sparking worries among investors and enthusiasts about the company’s capacity to compete with rivals.

There is a possibility that Musk will provide more details on the upcoming models during tonight’s earnings call. If this occurs, we will revise this article.

For author contact: patrick.george@insideevs.com.

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