Yesterday was Tesla’s annual shareholders meeting and, by and large, Elon Musk acted relatively normal for a CEO who doesn’t believe in norms. And by relatively normal, I mean he talked about new products, addressed succession concerns, referenced Magneto from “X-Men,” and said some typically bizzare stuff that you can engage with (via that link) if you’ve missed arguing with your weird uncle about pizza-based conspiracies. Anyway, in today’s news roundup we’re going to be a little Tesla heavy because, frankly, that’s where the news is this morning. But, if you stick around and don’t try to steal your sister’s iPad, I promise you some updates on a Jeep recall and maybe even a story about BYD.
Tesla Is Going To Start Advertising Like A Real Company
As I write this, totally randomly, the song off of Carolyn Polacheck’s great new album that features Elon Musk’s ex-partner Grimes just started playing. It’s a sign! It’s a sign!
Elon Musk loves defying the status quo. The whole promise of Tesla was that the car industry was doing it wrong and he could be more successful by not acting like Detroit or Stuttgart. He was, in part, right. While Tesla isn’t perfect, the big bets he made early were mostly the correct ones. This has created a feedback loop wherein Elon Musk is always defying the status quo, even when it doesn’t entirely make sense. Sometimes it feels like Elon Musk now lives in a Cargo Cult of his own design.
One of his earliest decisions was to not advertise in any traditional sense. Why? The media loves covering Tesla, and he can self generate his own interest so why toss money to publishers? This seems to have worked. I’d argue that opening up a bunch of stores in malls and shopping centers is a type of marketing, but it’s not the usual way of doing things.
It sounds like that’s changing. Why? Here’s Automotive News with an explanation of his sudden change of heart:
Musk said it was “ironic” that as CEO of Tesla, he now owns Twitter. The social media platform is highly dependent on ads and will soon be led by advertising veteran Linda Yaccarino, who he hired last week.
“So I guess I should say advertising is awesome, and everyone should do it,” Musk said at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas. “We will try out a little advertising and see how it goes.”
It underscores his efforts to shore up investor confidence in the automaker’s prospects at a time when rising competition and a slow economy has forced Tesla to slash prices.
In addition to living in a Cargo Cult of his own design, Elon Musk is also a walking monkey paw. I’m sure the folks at big agencies like Ogilvy and BBDO are licking their lips to get some of that sweet, sweet Tesla money, but I’m curious to see what this will actually look like. Will he just run ads on Twitter and call it a day? Will he hire an actual agency or just do it himself?
Just for fun, Jason put together a couple of potential Tesla ads. Neither the ad at the top of this post or the one in this story are real.
Here’s A Render Of A “New” Tesla Product
One of the biggest criticisms of Tesla is that all of its cars are old. It’s not an entirely fair point as Tesla is quite aggressive when it comes to making updates on the fly, though it’s clear Tesla ain’t exactly Chevy in the 1950s. While the Model S has seen improvements in engineering, features, and capabilities, it looks mostly like the car that came out more than a decade ago.
Sure, there’s the Tesla Cybertruck, a vehicle that seems to exist and that some people will eventually be able to buy. The same is true for the Tesla Roadster. I think people who put down a deposit for the Roadster will someday get a car. Just not anytime soon.
With so many other competitive vehicles out there, it behooves Tesla to come out with new products. Or at least refresh the cars it does have.
Here’s what Musk said at the meeting: “There are two new products that I think you’ll be very excited about. Both the design of the products and the manufacturing techniques are head and shoulders above anything else that is present in the industry.”
Will those be cars? Robots? It’s unclear, but Tesla did show the render above. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s a refreshed Tesla Model Y, which makes sense because it’s the company’s volume leader even if the Model Y is young by Tesla standards (it went on sale three years ago). Still, if you’re going to pick one place to start, I’d start with the Model Y. There are also clearly new Tesla Model 3 mules running around, so it’s possible the Model 3 is the second new product.
Musk also told people he was going to stick around for a while. I assume you could do an entire “Succession” series based on Elon Musk’s many kids trying to take over his many companies. It would be fun to watch. Everyone will have to wait a little longer as Musk announced, to cheers, that he’s not leaving anytime soon.
BYD Hires 4,000-5,000 New Software Engineers
BYD Chairman Wang Chaunfu is an engineer first and a CEO second. Therefore, he’s never seen a problem he can’t throw engineers at. Seriously, Chinese automaker/technology company BYD has 660,000 employees, which is approximately the number of people who live in the entire state of Vermont.
While BYD has been dominating the EV market in China and coming out with exciting new vehicles like the BYD Seagull, the reality is the company lags its competitors in the development of assisted and automated driving technology. The company’s solution? Per Reuters:
Between 4,000 and 5,000 software engineers have been hired recently, BYD senior vice president Stella Li told an investor forum this month when quizzed why the automaker was behind in automation and intelligence technologies.
“We are not ahead of others but we will come up with various types of innovation in two to three years,” she said according to a transcript that was confirmed as accurate by the company.
Current BYD recruiting advertisements for engineers specialising in autonomous driving that target top Chinese universities such as Zhejiang University, indicate that the hiring is ongoing.
Here’s my advice: When BYD says it’s going to do something, believe it.
Jeep Cherokee Owners Asked To Park Their Jeeps Outside
If you own a 2014 to 2016 Jeep Cherokee, the company would prefer it if you parked the vehicle outside due to a serious fire risk with the small SUVs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an “electrical short in the power lift gate module may lead to a vehicle fire with the ignition on or off. This recall affects 132,099 vehicles previously repaired during a 2015 recall.”
A remedy hasn’t been developed yet, so far now just keep the Jeeps away from anything flammable.
The Big Question/Flush
What should Tesla’s advertising tagline be?
- Man Shares Photos Of His Honda S2000 On Bricks In His Own Garage, Says Thieves Busted A Hole Through The Wall
- Here Are All The Production Cars That Could Be The First To 300 MPH
- The Renault 5 Is Exactly The Kind Of Cool, Small EV The World Needs
- The Ineos Fusilier Is An All-Electric Or Range-Extended EV 4×4 Made For Big Adventures