Most investor day presentations that automakers (or really any companies) do tend to be boring affairs, stuffed with a lot of important but not earth-shattering details about lowering operating expenses and improving efficiencies. They are not must-see-TV. This is usually not the case, though, with Tesla, who historically likes to show out. Many media members (and investors) appear to be a little cranked off this morning that Tesla’s big presentation yesterday focused largely on improving the environment and lacked the big “ONE MORE THING!” reveals people expect from Elon Musk.
I’m definitely on the list of people who feel disappointed that we didn’t see any new products (just a hint of one under a sheet), but after complaining that Tesla eschews the norms of polite corporate society it’s hard to fault Tesla for acting (mostly) like a normal company.
Tesla’s Presentation Short On Reveals, Long On Everything Else
There’s the whole four-hour thing above. Feel free to watch it. I’ll summarize, though:
- Two dudes talking at length, not very persuasively, about how we can save the environment.
- Graphs with no numbers or discernible axes.
- Robots that sort of work and then a rambling Elon Musk speech that hints at Universal Basic Income for when the robots take over.
- A not very persuasive presentation about their AI, neural networks, et cetera.
- A Tesla diner. (For the record, I love this idea).
- Magic dock charging for CCS vehicles.
- The company is building a lithium processing facility in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas (Go Hooks!).
- Acting even more like a traditional car company, Tesla is building a plant in Mexico.
It’s very clear that, in Elon Musk’s mind, what he talked about yesterday will be studied by historians on Mars. All the little details contain nuggets of gold that will be mined at some future point. Maybe that’s true! But we live in the present, so let’s do a roundup of Tesla headlines to see what the lamestream media thinks:
- CNBC: Tesla stock falls more than 5% after hours as Investor Day falls short on specifics
- Ars Technica: Tesla’s underwhelming investor day fails to impress investors
- The Washington Post: Elon Musk’s Tesla ‘Master Plan’ disappoints investors
- Fast Company: Tesla stock sinks after Elon Musk’s ‘Master Plan 3’ fails to impress at Investor Day
So, I would say, not great.
Again, ironies abound here. I’m being very general, but the media (us included) often gets on Elon Musk for making bold claims he does not back up. We say things like: WHERE ARE THE SELF-DRIVING TESLA TAXIS AND BATTERY SWAPPING STATIONS, ELON?!?
And then Musk goes out and doesn’t make too many crazy product claims, and everyone is upset. It’s a little silly. Granted, it’s a silliness that is mostly a side effect of his own behavior, but it’s silliness nevertheless.
Polestar Is Looking Alright In Q4
While Rivian and Lucid have had a challenging start, largely due to supply chain issues and the general difficulties involved with creating new car companies, Sino-Swedish rival Polestar has managed to slowly and methodically stick to its plans. In the last year, the company’s made small improvements to the Polestar 2 and revealed the enticing Polestar 3.
Polestar’s annual report is out (read it here) and, things are looking fairly good. Revenue increased 84% year-over-year to $2.5 billion, and profit improved to $119.4 million, compared to being basically break-even in 2021.
The big news, though, is that Polestar thinks it’ll be able to increase the volume of sales a full 60% to 80,000 cars. That’s not a lot compared to Tesla, but Polestar doesn’t think it needs to be Tesla. To wit, it’s not planning to suddenly drop its prices.
Here’s a good quote from a Reuters article on the topic:
“We will not engage in a price war…we are aiming to become a very premium sportscar company…,” chief executive Thomas Ingenlath told Reuters. “It’s very clear that this is a completely different aim from where Tesla is going, with 20 million cars per year.”
That way madness lies…
Chinese Automakers Filling In For Everyone Else In Russia
As Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion of Ukraine continues on into another year and Western sanctions have made it basically impossible for automakers in Europe, Japan, Korea, or the United States to sell cars there. That leaves Lada and China to fill in the gaps. The above graphic comes from this CNN article on how Chinese brands are replacing everyone else.
Over the past year, Chinese carmakers Chery and Great Wall Motor have jumped into the top 10 passenger vehicle brands, while Germany’s BMW and Mercedes (MBGAF) have disappeared, according to data from S&P Global Mobility.
Russians bought a record number of Chinese cars last year, according to data provider Autostat. Chinese new car sales in the country rose 7% in 2022, to 121,800 vehicles, even as the market crashed, it said in a report last month.
Lada, the homegrown brand that was already Russia’s most popular carmaker before the war, also saw its market share grow from approximately 22% to 28% in 2022, according to S&P data. (Renault sold its controlling stake in Lada in May.)
There’s a sort of inevitability to this as China seems mostly unperturbed by the human rights violations (glass houses, stones, et cetera).
Let’s Look At This Badass Safety Car
The Aston Martin DBX707 is “the world’s most powerful luxury SUV” and it’s also the new Official Medical Car of the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship. I love safety cars/medical cars, so let’s look at some photos of this beast.
A medical car, if you’re not aware, is designed to get the race’s medical team to the scene of a crash as fast as possible. Here’s what it’s got:
The DBX707 will be fully adapted and equipped for its role as Official FIA Medical Car. The essential equipment required, such as fire extinguishers, medical bags and a defibrillator all has its own place in the DBX707 so it is easy to check everything is onboard. The car is fitted with FIA-approved racing seats, each with a six-point racing harness as it will be driven to the limits on the track. The passengers will have access to communications from Race Control, and be able to see not only the FIA Marshalling system but biometric data from the F1® drivers and live television images, which will allow early assessment of any incident.
The Big Question
What’s the best medical car or safety car of all time?
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Photos: Tesla, Aston Martin, CNN, Polestar
Yet again, the answer is always Cayenne, even to today’s Flush. I love IMSA’s safety Cayennes. It’s fun seeing those big ol’ chonkers flying around at speed so long as they’re not responding to anything too serious.
I gotta say, though, Aston Martin has the best F1 livery and it’s not even a question. I just love that metallic green/neon yellow combo. So good. Looks good on their cars, looks good on their safety cars, simple, clean, pops on screen, A+, no notes.
Tesla plant in Mexico is a big deal for the country, since its one of the biggest investment in the auto industry there. Model 2 is supposed to be build in that location (but you never know with Tesla). A lot of components are already made in the region, and the IRA rules made it possible. Cheap labor, tax credit availability, close to the US border from a logistic standpoint, that’s the only way they can make that car affordable. Kia already has a plant in the region too (Kia Rio, Forte build there)
Kia, Chevy, Ram, Mercedes and Freightliner. Lots of automotive expertise the area.
Also cheap labor, steel 25% cheaper than the USA and good trade agreements for export.
Pet peeve: Companies referring to reasonable, easily explained things as “magic”. It’s a plug adapter! That’s not magic!
Not magic — agreed. But there is some slight-of-hand with it automatically coupling and decoupling with the adapter, depending on whether not it’s needed.
I mean, that’s just how Tesla operates. needless hyperbole.
“We’re opening a factory.” Lame, legacy, mid.
“GIGAFACTORY” Whoa! Nobody has ever seen the like before! What a unique – oh okay you’re calling every factory you build a gigafactory okay, great.
It’s also something Apple does, like how they have the “magic keyboard” which is just a keyboard. And the “magic mouse” which is just a mouse that’s also annoying to charge.
Everything’s magic if you don’t understand anything.
Like electricity and automatic transmissions.
What if it was “magic” AND “smart”? or “magic” AND “cyber”?
I don’t know anything about medical cars but it gives me the idea of shoving a V12 into an F-350 (most common “base” for ambulances in the US).
Gonna need to tweak the suspension a bit, ambulances handle like rollerskating pigs.
It’s called ground effects baby. Ground effects!
Goodbye to all my friends at home
Goodbye to people I’ve trusted
I’ve got to go out and make my way
I might get rich you know I might bet busted
But my heart keeps calling me backwards
As I get on the DBX707
Ridin’ high I got tears in my eyes
You know you got to go through hell
Before you get to heaven
No announcements, nothing solid to report. Just stuttering and stumbling.
The sad part is that no news about any new models is good news for Tesla. I’m reminded of a quote by the legendary Russ “Tres Commas” Hanneman:
“If you show revenue people will ask for more and it’s never enough. If you have no revenue, you can say you’re pre-revenue. It’s not about how much you earn its about what you’re worth. Who’s worth the most? Companies that lose money.”
The tesla blogs were, of course, in full copium mode last night. “Well of course they didn’t show anything. Those are going to be announced in their own presentations.”
So much hype for that investor day and “master plan 3” and the company caked itself harder than Alex Murdaugh at the office.
Upvote for one of the great monologues ever, not just by Russ, but ever.
My brother and I watched the presentation and we took a shot every time the phrase “Vertical integration” was used. I’m still drunk.
My favorite part was during the Q&A when Elon was asked about how they will meet the 20 million cars a year goal. He bumbled with how every car is a derivative of each other currently then said that there used to be a bunch of flip phones and now, well you know.
Like the great, skilled Russian soldiers that Putin is holding back? Vaporware bs
China could do the same to the US if they keep gouging in the form of killing off their cheap cars. They could easily bring over a new car for four digits.
“What’s the best medical car or safety car of all time?”
The one that gets there first with the right equipment and personnel.
Hmmm…that wasn’t supposed to be a reply…
It’s a good answer, though!
As an EMT, I have to ask if there is there a separate ambulance to take the driver to the hospital? I would assume so. Not much space in a Aston to do proper patient care…
Yes. Medical car gets there first, regular ambulance follows if necessary.
They should just use the same cars that are racing. After all they get the driver to the scene of the accident at the time of the accident. You cant do bettrr than that.
Best medical car of all time? The Tatra 623 R of the 1995 Hungarian Grand Prix that ran over Taki Inoue
Just the headline of this article made my morning. As someone who works with EVs…..
Here’s the oldest thing I’ve ever said: “Son, is this what you wear to represent a multi-million dollar company? Put on a nice shirt or a turtleneck, wear a jacket, get your hands out of your pockets, and quit slouching like a bad-ass beatnik reciting poetry in a coffee house. You have money, position, and responsibilities. Act like it!”
I’m guessing that the Teslastans were left moist…
p.s. “axis” not “axes”
Most graphs have two axes, an x-axis and a y-axis.
Came here to type this.
Gonna make the predicion now, in steps:
1. Tesla will continue to delay cybertruck on purpose – they never could have hit the original SOP (or any other SOP targets) anyway…
2. Delay major updates to Models S and X
3. Wait for the price to be low enough – then purchase Rivian
4. Add Tesla engineering and/or design knowledge to R1T R1S
5. Elon claims that model X will live forever
6. Kill Model S, Kill Model X, Kill Cybertruck – replace with Teslified R1S and R1T, make claims of potential Model S/X/CT replacements “down the line”……. but never do it
I don’t think points 3 and onward will happen but I hate that if it did, you’re right about how it will go down
Tesla is in trouble and they know it. That is what that was all about. The rest of the industry is rapidly catching up, they have a aging product lineup and two very grossly delayed models. This did nothing to help.
Tesla’s in a tough spot. Their stock valuation is based on the idea that they are going to radically change life as we know it, when in reality they’re a car company and nothing more. Outside of their charging network I’m not sure there’s anything they do better than other manufacturers at this point.
There’s a happy medium between their announcement of the ridiculous Cybertruck and the underwhelming (non-)announcements this time around, but the problem is that even if they thread that needle investors are still not going to be happy because they didn’t invest in a car company, they invested in a tech company. If Tesla starts to behave as a car company their stock price is going to crater even if they’re doing the right things. Tesla has been propelled by hype up to now (you probably thought they were propelled by electric motors, but no ;-), and as it becomes increasingly obvious that Autopilot and the Cybertruck are a complete boondoggle that hype is drying up.
The Tesla Powerwall is a pretty compelling home storage system, especially if you have panels on the roof and an EV in the garage. It’s about the only thing I’d buy from them.
But I think the comments here are spot on. Tesla, as other companies introduce EVs, is becoming just another car company. Cars like the new BMW 3 i4 offer way more content, better driving experience and a robust network of dealers. Ford will have had what, a three year head start on Lightning sales before the Cybertruck gets here?
Yeah. I think they really needed some concrete, achievable roadmap on refreshes or next-generations of their existing models in there somewhere. (And a new hype man who isn’t distracted by wOkE mOb CaNcELlInG mUh TwEeTs or whatever, but that goes without saying and is the longest long shot imaginable.)
They’ve reached the maturity stage of being an automaker. Love ’em or hate ’em, that’s good! Boring, business as usual pressers are great for the reasons Matt mentioned, but Tesla’s not quite to that spot yet as a company with an aging lineup and promised products/services that are far behind schedule. It’s time to cull the herd of ideas that have been pooped out of Elon’s mouth—maybe spin robots into a separate company, maybe even bin the Cybertruck or Roadster and refund deposits if they’re not coming—and focus on improvements to the core lineup that’s built the company to where it is now.
The S/3/X/Y cars are pretty good, all things considered, and have sold well for a long time, but you can’t rely on keeping the same models around forever.
Tesla’s valuation is based on them selling 20 million cars in 2030 (25% global market share) at current profit margins. The market is slowly realizing that dream is a fantasy.
The stock dropped because Musk didn’t show a path to get to the 20 million goal. He didn’t show anything at all.
“Tesla is building a plant in Mexico”
You missed the big reason *why*… and it’s to build their ‘next generation’ vehicle. And that next gen vehicle will be something below the Model 3 built at a substantially lower cost than the Model 3.
Will it be a Model 2,4, or a Tesla Ness?
Tesla’s products are dated AF right now. In 2015-2017 or so when I saw them my reaction was “hey that’s pretty neat and unique”. Today it’s “wow that’s a car that looks like it was designed nearly a decade ago”. I’ve heard that the Model Y is getting an interior update, but are they doing literally anything else to modernize their fleet? The combination of dated styling, Ikea corporate office park from Y2K interior, Tesla cultists existing, and jackwagon of a CEO makes the cars pretty unappealing these days. They could really infuse an infusion of some fresh ideas but ole Musky is too busy sniffing his own farts.
Color me optimistic about Polestar. I’ve seen a few 2s out in the wild and they are really, really good looking cars. While they’re a little tech-ey on the inside for my liking they’ve done a good job of borrowing from Volvo’s lush, sophisticated, simple interior designs. They’re also shifting their focus to being more performance oriented, which I think is great, especially considering Volvo doesn’t really offer anything on that front.
They’re in an interesting niche right now and I’m definitely keeping an eye on them. Frankly I don’t even need anything faster than a dual motor Polestar 2…I’d just like some additional engagement baked in. Maybe a stiffer suspension, some Brembos, LSDs, a little red go button, and some sort of steering upgrade. If that and a real world 300 miles of range happen I’ll be happy to concede to our robot overlords and switch.
I’ll disagree. The way to building iconic cars is to stop redesigning them for no reason, and changing everything that made them successful.
Example: Integra vs RSX, RSX was worse. G35 vs G37, G37 was worse. Both cars were all stars and ruined by a redesign.
It would be better to cut costs but up quality by simplifying things, and making minor updates that could be used to update older models. The 911 was produced for 4 decades on largely the same chassis, which mean enthusiasts can backdate, forward date, and have multiple generations and technologies to pick and choose from, all on the same chassis. That is also what made the 911 an icon; they didn’t start from scratch every 5 years, they refined, slowly.
I dont know just look at how doing basically no updating hurt VW with the Beetle. Oops wait no best selling car ever.
While I’m Team Don’t You Dare Mess Up the 911 With Stupid-Shaped Headlights for sure, I still think Tesla’s past due for some kind of significant update to its existing model lineup.
Tesla’s cross-lineup styling is bland but classy, and solidly An Car. They sort of feel like the cars you’d get when a game just needs to design An Car for its non-player bots to drive as obstacles as you’re taking Your Summer Car to rob a booze store or whatever. I joke that they’re the bot cars of MoPac for that reason—they’re frickin’ everywhere here. So, there’s clearly demand for Generic Car Render styling, but the issue then becomes—where are the impetuses to upgrade?
I have friends who’ve traded their Tesla in for another Tesla, and yeah, you’re going to have some folks who like what they’ve liked and want a lower-mileage example, but for everyone else? Eyes are gonna wander to what else is out there, and there’s serious competition for luxury/near-luxury EVs now. It’s the same problem I ran into with my last-gen Lancer: I like this car, but the one on sale for years and years and years was…essentially the same car. I’ve still got the original because, well, why bother? I’ve known everyone who’s farted in this one since new, and it’s not broken yet. Alternately, where’s the draw for someone who bought a Model 3 as the latest ‘n’ greatest thing they could afford to stick with a new Tesla when the latest, shiniest EVs are being made by other brands?
Tesla’s a mature company in the modern era, and folks expect significant generational updates and refreshes now. Even the Beetle was eventually replaced with a periodically updated Golf. The 911 may have stuck to its basic styling all these years, but with significant updates and year-to-year changes under the skin, even throughout the chassis-sharing years.
Polestar as a name has to go. I’m sure the cars are good, but the name is terrible.
I was at an event recently where Polestar had a booth and I had to explain to my friends what it even was. If Volvo was going to spin off a separate division they needed a much better marketing push to support it.
Just call it Volvo. They already have a good reputation.
I think Tesla forgot to tell the investors how they plant to make more money THIS year. They laid out a lot of grand schemes and plans for the distant future but failed to say anything concrete about new products, model refreshes, production updates, etc. You know, the stuff that makes money! The closest I saw to something solid was that Cybertruck is starting production this year. That’s not anything an investor is going to get excited about unless they commit to a specific date or quarter.
There was something else I picked up on. They incinerate money to optimize design and manufacturing. I’ll use the new 4860 battery as an example (there are more). The 4860 cell has at least three variations from what I saw. Each new manufacturing facility is another iteration in design and manufacturing. If I was invested in them, I would be livid. Troubleshooting new designs and processes costs money. When you have something that achieves goals, lock it in and start printing money. Leave the next iterations in design and manufacturing for when the equipment needs to be overhauled.
IMHO, the dip in stock price is appropriate. The engineer in me found the presentation fascinating however.
Dude, profitability is soooo last century. We’re, like, doing awesome stuff with other peoples’ money don’t you get it?
I’m not so sure.I’m thinking changes in battery tech arent hard to tool up for -compared to cars at least.
If we’re including “pace” cars, the ’76 Century Free Spirit and the ’78 Corvette have to be in the Top 10, if only for the color ways and graphics treatment.
GMC used to brag about being “Official Truck of the Indy 500” more than any other truck. Of course they were; any time the Pace Car was a GM product of any division except Chevrolet, the trucks were GMCs.