Elon Musk took to the stage at Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting to hype the company’s future in everything from selling insurance to mining rare elements for battery production, while admitting that “profitability is challenging” and also backing away from recent claims about a Tesla robotaxi fleet running by 2020.
The Verge reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is still optimistic about the future of his electric car manufacturer Tesla at this year’s annual shareholders meeting, which took place on Tuesday. During the meeting, Musk stated that the electric car manufacturer’s sales had improved and that he believed they had a “good shot” at a recorder quarter in 2019.
Musk claimed earlier this year that the reported drop in January sales was because “people literally don’t have the money to buy the car,” not because there is no demand for it. Musk now claims that 90 percent of orders coming in are from customers who aren’t holding a reservation for the Tesla Model 3. Musk did, however, admit that profitably and growth are a challenge for the firm.
“Profitability is always challenging if you’re a fast-growing company,” Musk stated. But he added that he believes that Tesla could be “cash-flow positive” soon despite high growth rates. Musk backtracked on the robotaxi claims he made in April in which he stated that Tesla would have a fleet of self-driving robotaxis on the road by 2020 with a system operating similar to Uber and Lyft. “I feel very confident in predicting autonomous robotaxis next year,” Musk said at the time. But more recently Musk made it clear that he believes that there would be 1 million Tesla cars capable of acting as robotaxis by 2020, not necessarily acting as robotaxis.
Later in the event Musk stated the company must find more way to build larger quantities of batteries, with plans to open Gigafactories all over the world helping in this aspect. But he also stated that Tesla is considering getting more deeply involved in the lithium-ion battery creation supply chain- in particular, the mining part. “We might get into the mining business, I don’t know, maybe a little bit at least,” he said. “We’ll do whatever we have to to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible.”
Musk stated in April that the company would be offering insurance to customer that would be “more compelling than anything else” but when asked at the shareholders meeting why this product was not available yet, Musk stated that Tesla has “a small acquisition that we need to complete, and a bit of software to write” but “it won’t be long before” Tesla starts offering insurance.
Musk once again mentioned the elusive solar roof product that the company has talked about since 2016 but failed to implement in a widespread capacity. Musk said that the panels are being deployed in eight states but added that producing them is “quite a hard problem.” He claimed that the company is working on its third iteration of the tiles which he is “really excited about.” Musk added: “I’ve had a number of meetings with Drew (Baglino, Tesla’s VP of technology), where I’m like banging the table, [saying] ‘Damn it, we’ve got to achieve this.'”
Musk offered an update on the Advanced Summon feature that Tesla has advertised for some time which will allow Tesla owners to press a button on their keys and have their vehicle drive directly to them. “We’re making steady improvements to it. It’s close to being amazing. It’s not quite there but it’s close,” Musk said. “There’s a lot of complexity in parking lots.” Musk added: “We don’t want to like, run someone over. The threshold is, is it more convenient to summon your car, or walk your car, and if it’s more convenient to walk, summon is not that useful. So it has to move reasonably fast.”