Read Elon Musk's comments from the Tesla Q4 Earnings Call
The Tesla CEO addressed battery production challenges head-on and made a few bold predictions.
Tesla released its fourth-quarter financial information on Wednesday, claiming a 1 percent increase in vehicle revenues over the fourth quarter of 2018. All told, Tesla claimed $6.4 billion in revenues. Below are the comments from Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Tesla representatives during the company's call with investors. Dive in for the quotes about Cybertruck, Tesla' intense battery production challenges, and a Tesla event announced for April.
Model 3 factory in Shanghai — The coronavirus may affect profitability for the quarter as the Model 3 factory in Shanghai, China is temporarily shut down by the government there. “We are expecting a one to one-and-a-half week delay in the ramp of Shanghai-built Model 3s, due to a government-required factory shutdown," said Tesla finance executive Zach Kirkhorn at the top of the call.
Cybertruck — Musk was effusive: "A few months ago we revealed the Cybertruck and that went viral. We tried to build a product that is superior in every way without any preconceptions of how the product should look."
"What's the most bad ass futuristic armored personnel carrier? We wanted it to look like it came out of a sci-fi movie from the the future," he said. "We've never seen this level of demand. I think we will sell as many as we can make for many years. It's going to be pretty nuts. I think actually the product is better than people realize even. They don't even have enough information to realize the awesomeness of it. It's just great."
When asked about how many Cybertrucks Tesla could actually make, Musk declined to answer in detail, but said the demand is far more than Tesla could make 3-4 years. And that's because of batteries. Read more below. 👇
"Battery Day" in April — "The thing we're really going to be focused on is increasing battery production capacity," Musk said, adding that is why Tesla had not focused on production of the Tesla Semi because it didn't have enough battery cells available to make them and meet the demand for Model 3 and Model Y vehicles. Musk said increasing battery production is "very fundamental and extremely difficult." He said Tesla would hold a "Battery Day" in the "April timeframe" to explain what Tesla challenges are when it comes to making batteries. "How do you get from here to a couple thousand gigawatt hours or something."
Musk struck a more positive tone later in the call, saying engineers at Tesla were "super deep" on developing new tech. "I think it will blow people's minds," Musk said, teasing what's in store for April. He confirmed that Maxwell Technologies Ultracapacitors are involved in the development.
High passenger-density urban vehicles — A prediction was made in the Master Plan, Part Deux about another Tesla vehicle, one for high passenger-density vehicles -- think a Sprinter-style van -- but that idea has apparently slowed, as Tesla has to focus on increasing battery production.
"We have to scale battery production to crazy levels that people cannot even fathom today," Musk said. "That's the real problem."
Model Y — "It's really just incredible specs all around," Musk said of the crossover SUV that made its debut ten months ago. The vehicle is in its production ramp at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. First deliveries of the vehicle should be delivered by the end of March, said Kirkhorn.
Tesla's battery business — The company claimed in its Q4 report that a new product, the commercial-scale 3MWh all-in-one battery storage unit, made at its Gigafactory in Nevada, appears to be hit in the making: "The level of interest and orders from various global project developers and utilities has surpassed our expectations," claims the company.
Tesla also announced that in the fourth quarter of 2019, it deployed 26 percent more solar than in the third quarter, totaling 54 mega-watts.
Range — "It won't be long before the Model S has a 400-mile range," Musk said when asked about the future of Tesla's battery innovation. He went one further: "The Model S and X have more range than we have on the website," saying Tesla had not updated the website to reflect the current battery range for cars being developed now, which is closer to 380 miles per charge.
Starlink internet in a Tesla? — Adam Jonas, the Morgan Stanley investment analyst known for asking news-making questions, asked Musk if Teslas would have Starlink terminals outfitted in the future. "The focus of Starlink is really for high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity for homes and business and aircraft tad boats and that kind of thing. The antenna for that ... is about the size of a medium pizza. Musk added, "technically you could just buy one and stick it on the car."
Jonas also asked if the antenna were to be made cost-effective and aerodynamic, how would it improve the customer experience the network. Musk replied, "If you're out in the country side and there's not good cell connectivity, then you could connect with a Starlink antenna." Musk added that minimum bandwidth -- 20-30 MB-- would require a smaller antenna. "I'm not thinking about it very much to be honest," Musk concluded.
Solarglass Roof production — "It's really going to be a choice of 'do you want a roof alive with power or a dead roof?'" Musk said, adding, "It's the future we want." He did say there are a lot of challenges involved with the project but that he was confident they would be overcome.
Superchargers — There will be chargers for the Tesla vehicle fleet at airports soon, Musk said.
Tesla insurance — The service is available in California, and Kirkhorn said the company intended to expand to other states, though the company added that the caveat is it is a heavily regulated industry.
An "Autopilot discount" for Tesla-insured drivers — "Absolutely," Musk said -- as it lowers the probability of injury. "The amount of money people spend on car insurance is a remarkably big percentage of the cost of a car," Musk said. Doing some quick math, he estimated a quarter to half of the cost of a car is insurance, blaming insurance companies for not having good information on the drivers. The Tesla CEO touted Tesla's data on how its cars drive as "a fundamental information advantage that insurance companies don't have."
"Feature complete" full self-driving "It's looking like it's going to be maybe a couple months from now," Musk said of the claim he made in April 2019 when the company debuted its hardware and software. "The apparent progress as seen my consumers will seem to be extremely rapid but what's really gone on is having the foundational software very strong."