Tesla CEO Elon Musk Gets a Green Light From Shareholders Despite Backlash

Elon Musk is still in charge. 

by James Dennin

Most of the items on the docket at Tuesday’s meeting of Tesla shareholders were pretty dry: appointing a few new board directors, for example, and ratifying the company’s choice of PriceWaterHouse Coopers as its accounting firm. But there was a brief flash of fireworks when a representative for union-backed pension fund criticized the board and CEO Elon Musk’s leadership.

“We want to see Tesla succeed,” said a representative for CtW Investment Group, an investment group of union-sponsored pension funds. “But the current board is an obstacle, not an aid to these goals.”

CtW was part of a group of shareholders calling to reject the Tesla board’s recommended leadership, a plan that may have potentially brought in an independent board chairman. Tesla shareholders rejected the proposal in a super majority. Unseating Musk in any meaningful capacity will be an uphill battle: The founder himself still owns more than a fifth of the outstanding shares.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk rolled out updates on the status of its product line, including his plans for the Roadster. 

After approving the shareholder resolutions, Musk went on to give some updates on the company’s financials and product line as well as answering some questions from Twitter and the audience.

Some highlights? It’s quite likely Tesla will be producing 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the month, for example, a milestone the company has been chasing since for some time. The company is still growing marketshare, and owners are requiring fewer repairs. Musk also promised further improvements to its worker safety, where it now comes in about 6% below the industry average, according to Musk’s speech.

Some of the most exciting announcements were in response to a Twitter question about progress on the so-called Gigafactory, a massive facility in Nevada to produce Tesla lithium ion batteries.

“We’ll keep working on the Gigafactory for four or five years,” Musk said. “It will by far be the biggest building in the world … it’s about a third done right now.

Musk also teased an upcoming announcement about a project to build the first Tesla Gigafactory outside of the United States in China. The details about the China Gigafactory will be available by the end of the month, Musk said. There was no update on the Model Y, though Musk said he hopes that will also change by the end of the year. A compact car is on the agenda within five years.

As for autopilot? Musk hopes to ship an autopilot that’s powerful enough to go on and off highway ramps within the next couple of months.

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