Tesla is holding its 2023 Investor Day on Mar. 1, and it’s supposed to be a big one. As invitees descend on Gigafactory Texas, Elon Musk plans to unveil Master Plan 3, setting out a road map for the next few years of Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company. Still, on the eve of Tesla’s next big step, we have yet to see firm developments on several highly-anticipated products. Let’s run through some of the things Tesla has announced and place our bets on how likely we are to see them at Investor Day.
The Magic Dock
Magic Dock close up pic.twitter.com/hprq44WVCx
— Domestic Supply of Infants (@No_Jimbo) February 23, 2023
What is it? Tesla’s long-rumored solution for adding CCS connectors to its Supercharger network appears to be underway. See, the federal government will give grants to charging station companies provided DC fast chargers are compatible with the CCS combo-1 sockets found on most electric cars sold in America. Key word being “most.” If you drive something like a Nissan Leaf, you’re out of luck because your EV features a CHAdeMO socket. Likewise, you’re out of luck if you’re Tesla, because American Tesla models use a unique charging connector.
How does Tesla plan on getting access to those sweet, sweet government grants? Why, with adapters, of course. Obviously, these adapters lock into their charging stations to prevent people from taking them home, but the principle isn’t much different to a J1772 to Tesla adapter for Level 2 charging. Not only does the Magic Dock system benefit Tesla, it could benefit every other EV owner with a CCS-equipped car. Tesla runs a reliable, well-maintained charging network, so depending on pricing, this could be a damn good deal.
Likelihood of it showing up at Investor Day: Five outdated Doge memes out of five. Supercharging stations with the Magic Dock are already cropping up, so upcoming news on the Magic Dock is as good as guaranteed. I’d be surprised if we don’t hear anything about it on Mar. 1.
A Production-Spec Cybertruck
What is it? According to Elon Musk, the Cybertruck will enter production this year, for real this time, possibly, perhaps, most likely. Look, when you’re trying to build a vehicle out of stuff no sane person would use to build a vehicle, things take a while. However, Inside EVs reports that Tesla started assembly of a Cybertruck panel press in January, which points to actual production progress being made.
We’ve already seen several variations of Cybertruck from the original concept to a version with a windshield wiper, we still haven’t seen a fully-baked production model akin to what people will actually be able to buy. However, with more and more Cybertruck sightings in recent months, a production-spec model feels imminent.
Likelihood of it showing up at Investor Day: Four metal balls out of five. The timeline between assembly of the first press and Tesla Investor Day is rather short, but it’s very likely we’ll see some Cybertruck news soon. At minimum, a production-spec Cybertruck feels like a way to bookend Master Plan 2 on the eve of Master Plan 3, so I wouldn’t be surprised if something on this topic pops up.
A Facelifted Tesla Model 3
What is it? It’s almost hard to believe given how the past few years have all blended together, but Tesla’s darling Model 3 is now officially old. It’s gone more than five years since launch without a refresh, so it’s definitely due for some updates if the Model S’ roughly five-year refresh cycle is anything to go by. Project Highland isn’t much of a secret, having been spotted with the typical mid-cycle refresh bra and diaper camouflage, although it should hold several improvements. Expect the updates to include revised styling, new wheels, and possibly some interior tweaks.
As for timing, Forbes reports that Tesla’s Shanghai plant is down for retooling, so it’s possible that validation cars are rolling off the line right now. Of course, it’s also very possible that they aren’t, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Likelihood of it showing up at Investor Day: Three frozen door handles out of five. Even in pre-production form, this is a product worth showing off ASAP as a refresh could draw new interest in the important Chinese market. However, the timeline is rather short, and an updated Model 3 feels more suited to a special event than Tesla Investor Day. Still, never say never.
A New-Generation Platform
What is it? Elon Musk has teased a cheap Tesla for several years, and the next phase of Tesla seems right for it. In a 2019 interview with tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Musk claimed that a $25,000 car was “something we can do,” adding that “But if we work really hard, I think maybe we can do that in about three years.” Fast forward to 2022, and Automotive News reports that Elon Musk claimed on an earnings call that a third-generation platform that would cost half as much to make as a Model 3 is in the works.
The third-generation platform will be critical for Tesla. Electric vehicles aren’t just for the rich, and new competition on the affordable end of the spectrum adds pressure in a space where Tesla isn’t. Chevrolet Bolts are flying out of showrooms, Stellantis is bringing the current 500e to North America, cheap EVs are taking off in Europe and China, and Volkswagen’s planning an all-electric next-generation Golf.
Likelihood of it showing up at Investor Day: Two $35,000 Model 3s out of five. It’s very unlikely that we’ll see an actual product from this pursuit just yet, but we may learn more details. After all, Master Plan 3 will be part of Tesla Investor Day, and a new platform could play a huge role in it.
A Production-Spec Second-Generation Roadster
What is it? Here’s a car that many people just forgot about: The second-generation Tesla Roadster. It’s been more than five years since we first saw Franz von Holzhauen’s low-slung targa-topped sports car appear at a Tesla Semi event, and perpetual delays have plagued the product ever since, to the point where several electric hypercars can credibly challenge it for the crown.
The new Roadster was first expected in 2020, then delayed to 2021, then delayed again to 2023. Elon time, am I right? What’s more, several customers plunked down massive six-figure deposits on this thing, only to hear the bare minimum of what’s going on. Needless to say, something feels off about this project, and the relative lack of updates suggests we could be waiting a while longer.
Likelihood of it showing up at Investor Day: One space car out of five. With little word, no recent spy shots, and a firm position at the back of Tesla’s queue, the Roadster feels all but forgotten. Then again, I’d love to be surprised because new sports cars are fun no matter where they come from.
Of course, I could be totally wrong about what might and might not appear at Tesla Investors Day. After all, I don’t work for Tesla so I don’t have any firsthand insider knowledge about what may turn up. Still, it’s fun to predict and see what happens. If anything’s certain, it’s that all eyes will be glued to the livestream as the world’s dominant EV maker announces its ideas on staying relevant through the meat of the 2020s. What do you expect to see?
(Photo credits: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.)
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I’m hoping for a product unveiling targeted at the low-end of the market. A sub-$25,000 commuter that weighs well under 3,000 lbs, is more aerodynamically slippery than anything else sold, can do 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds, and can get 150+ miles range on the highway would be awesome. Doable decades ago. The tech has only gotten better since.
“…we still haven’t seen a fully-baked production model…”
The only thing fully baked at Tesla is Elon.
Drop the Cybertruck, Ford and Rivian got that covered and Ford will most likely get to an all electric unibody pickup soon enough.
Instead focus on a Golf size model 2.
Model 3 is the best and now also the cheapest, for what you get, in its size.
Would be excellent to get more of the same in a smaller package.
I woke up this morning and forgot to give a flying f about Elon Musk and Tesla. Thinking about this article, I will continue on my not giving a flying f about Tesla and Elon Musk. The competition will heat up even more than it is now and I’m thinking those fanbots might want to look at shorting their stocks.
Honestly I hope investor day is more like battery day where we get more insight into manufacturing streamlining and supply chain stuff. I find that infinitely better than some crappy timelines that are unlikely to happen.
Can’t the Tesla board vote out Musk? Usually, boards of public companies have that power even if the original owner has controlling stake in the new public company
Depends on how the stock is structured.
For example, Facebook’s preferred stock has 10 votes for every 1 vote of common stock and guess who owns 90% of preferred stock.
Like how Kotick and his right hand man have the majority of votes at Activision between them, the rest of the board simply don’t matter.
Fingers crossed that the MS merger forces Kotick out.
I don’t know how their particular structure works, but ousting the guy with a controlling stake probably doesn’t work for too long if he wants back in. Generally, controlling interest means that he can essentially override most Board decisions, since a lot of what the Board does goes to shareholder vote. Since he is no longer Chair, he might not be able to stop C-suite hiring/firing decisions, but he could keep the board from functioning in other ways, at a minimum.
I suspect that his controlling interest, his fans, and his impulse control scare them out of doing a lot. Even if he couldn’t stop them, one public tantrum and he could destroy a ton of value or grind every Board decision to a halt.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Tesla is structured like Meta, with the special shares that keep Zuckerberg in charge despite his “low” ownership of total shares.
Musk owns something like 13% of Tesla, and I don’t believe it’s “controlling” in the sense that he alone can outvote the other shareholders if it comes to that.
He has enough shares to outvote any other individual shareholder, last I knew. And enough influence to get a bunch of fans to vote however he says. But, yeah, I just did a quick search and don’t think Tesla has multiple classes of stock, so a concerted effort to get other shareholders against him would work. I have been wondering if the Twitter loans are an attempt to transfer enough stock from him to another significant shareholder to shift the balance of power.
Regardless of controlling interest, with publicly traded companies, 10% is generally enough to give a significant amount of control. It’s difficult to get things done if 10+ percent of shares are voting against it right from the start. With Musk’s loyal followers, I’d assume you’d have closer to 35% in lockstep, plus who knows how many non-voters out there, making it very difficult to oust him.
I think he’s down to about 8% after the sales to fund the Twitter deal. Majority of his wealth is tied to SpaceX now.
I read an article about this a few months ago. Tesla’s share structure is set up so it takes 89.5% of shareholders to outvote Musk.
People remember Musk’s first big “success” was PayPal. People don’t realize that Musk was booted from the company before PayPal even became PayPal, he was only CEO for a few months, and it was his successor that made PayPal wildly successful. Musk got booted because he was a prick and wanted to take the company in a different direction than what turned out to be a very successful path.
What Musk learned from PayPal was not that he isn’t the smartest guy in the room or that he should play nice with others. His chief take-away was to never structure a future company in a way that would allow him to be voted out.
The board was 100% Musk appointees prior to the SEC settlement. No shareholder could even nominate. The SEC settlement added “independent” board seats and booted him from the chairman of the board seat for 3 years.
Hint: none of the seats listed as “Independent director” actually are. They’re all people personally approved by Melon. He simply refused to appoint anyone else, ignored the requirement to add controls and procedures to make sure he didn’t tweet ‘buying Twitter to take private at $54’ between retweeting Nazis and racist rants, ignored the pocket change fines, and told them to make him chairman the second the clock ran out.
By the way, remember that photo of him being chummy at the Superbowl with Rupert Murdoch and a collection of other beyond terrible people? Rupert’s kid James just coincidentally sits on Tesla’s board. (And he was deeply involved in the phone hacking scandal.)
I’ve written many letters to the board of directors, he’s gotta go.
Not sure how much anyone has been paying attention, but the magic docks have quickly appeared at superchargers on both coasts. The speed and apparent simple installation are pretty surprising to me.
Anything to distract from the fact that he’s currently using his massive platform to *checks notes* defend a racist and post awful memes.
Now that would be something exciting for investors: Musk stepping aside because he needs to dedicate all of his time to replying “interesting” to every racist/homophobic/transphobic/etc. conspiracy theory he can find on Twitter.
Musk leaves Tesla and they put an adult in charge? Significant improvement in the business model. Potential drop in stock price from the Musk fans and memes, but it’s been massively overvalued anyway. Investors could invest in Tesla rationally, rather than monitoring Twitter trends.
I am no fan of the guy, but I feel like Musk is the Jobs of the EV car arena. if he goes the people willing to look past all his crap will go with him. Not that I care about such things, but I see that as a real possibility.
I don’t think that is the case, but I could be wrong. Paypal didn’t seem to miss him at all. Beyond that, Tesla is big enough that they don’t need one guy’s personality as a driving factor.
But they might. And I suspect that a lot of others would take their places if that happens. There’d certainly be a significant cultural shift both in and around Tesla.
Everyone focuses on his stupid tweets but the fact that he made the electric car not only desirable in the modern age but also at profit margins the competition is nowhere close to being at is amazing. In real world CEO metrics he’s doing pretty damn good.
The electric vehicle was coming. As an investor, Musk definitely looked at the landscape and found massive growth potential. And the stupid tweets and such are part of how he cut costs. Don’t advertise, make yourself the brand. Manipulate the stock price, overpromise, whatever keeps people thinking about your brand.
I will say that the move to not meaningfully update the products for years was a bold one, and it seems to have paid off. I really thought that would be an especially bad move when targeting the tech bros. Gotta have all the latest tech, but they have instead been convinced to stick with the same Teslas as they wait for them to drive themselves.
I think Tesla could have succeeded with the same amount of money coming from anyone, but I do think that Musk was one of very few who wanted to throw that kind of money into something like that at that point. I also think that gutting departments like advertising was a move that very few would have done. And I don’t think many could have kept Tesla’s name in as many mouths, so that one is something that only worked with him in charge.
The growth potential was from a massive unexploited niche that was present, but ignored, for decades. What Tesla did in the 2010s, the major automakers could have been doing in the 1990s, but the major automakers instead decided they didn’t want this type of car to be available on the market at all, in spite of those who knew about the cars and the tech wanting to buy prototypes that were leased, but never sold and instead sent to the crusher. Too many sacred oxen would have been gored.
The problem with not updating the look is that all the Teslas are going to suddenly look ancient at some point, and it’ll happen very, very quickly when it happens. The Model 3, with its bargain-bin loser interior, is especially vulnerable to this.
His stupid tweets are all also official Tesla communications because Tesla’s SEC filings say they are and they have no other official outlets, it’s weird that people keep forgetting this.
Tesla stock up: “welcome all you forward thinking investors”
Tesla stock down: “what are all you pedos doing here?”
I think, as much as it seems like hyperbole, the real comparison is Henry Ford. Both were incredibly influential in the founding and initial success of their companies – though Ford actually did design and engineering work.
But importance doesn’t mean invincibility, and sometimes when someone like that gets too high on their own supply they can begin to become a liability. And Musk is a making a lot of Ford-esque mistakes – reluctance to comprehensively redesign in the face of new competition, buying media companies to indulge his ego, union busting, cozying up to far-right extremists…
There are some serious parallels between the two men, largely in their flaws.
Besides, Apple outlived Steve Jobs, Ford outlived Henry Ford. Tesla will outlive Elon Musk.
It’s almost like the sort of folks who find themselves in such positions of financial power aren’t usually the most wholesome of characters and did a lot of unethical things to get to that point. I can’t deny that both Ford and Musk were involved in producing some incredibly influential and important products but both were driven there mainly by greed, megalomania, and endless, vitriolic disdain for who they perceived as “the others”. As such I find it a lot harder to appreciate their contributions…and based on how Musk’s viewed outside of the insipid Tesla cultists these days I think many people agree.
I think the comparison between the two is spot on, and I think history will be as unkind to Musk as it is to Ford now….although I think his downfall will be a lot more immediate and dramatic given that we live in a time that’s a lot more openly critical of bigotry and the idea that white men should just be able to do whatever they want without consequences. Ford wasn’t really viewed through a properly critical lens until after his death. Musk is slowly but surely being held accountable in real time.
Except that Musk didn’t found Tesla. He really does seem to be nothing more than a big-time con artist, judging by his stint so far at Twitter.
There’s a reason I said “incredibly influential” rather than outright saying he founded it – because like you said, he didn’t, even if he did some legal wrangling to say he did. But he was the money guy and his bluster did separate it from a lot of the other EV startups that were trying to get established around the same time.
…and he evidently has a right to say/post what he chooses.