An Emotional Elon Musk Lays Out Tesla's Future Plans and Admits He Has a Problem With Time
Time isn’t Elon Musk’s strong suit. As the CEO of two companies intent on delivering technological advances to the public in due course, that can be a problem.
Musk runs both electric car company Tesla and space travel company SpaceX, and timing is an issue he addressed openly in Tesla’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday. Musk recalled that when he and his brother Kimbal Musk (also a Tesla board member) used to take the bus to school, Kimbal would lie to Elon about the time, saying the bus left earlier. That way, when Elon was inevitably late, they’d still be able to catch it.
“I think I do have an issue with time,” Musk said in response to a question about his particular brand of “Elon time.” The statement was met with loud applause. “This is something I’ve been trying to get better at. … I’m trying to re-calibrate as much as possible.”
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Musk seemed to prioritize both humility and patience as he fielded an hour-and-a-half’s worth of shareholder questions. The co-founder and CEO even seemed emotional as he listed Tesla’s achievements, saying, “We build our cars with love.”
This approach was likely strategic in calming investors after Musk’s headline tirades in recent months -- a Twitter firestorm aimed at the press, calling investor questions “boring” and “bonehead[ed]” on his company’s shareholder call, sparring online with Warren Buffett and an argument with officials investigating a deadly Tesla crash. One Tesla shareholder had proposed the company replace Musk with an independent chairman of the board, but at the meeting, voters elected that Musk would retain the chairman spot he’s held since 2004.
“This is … the most excruciating, hellish several months I’ve maybe ever had,” said Musk, adding that the same was true for “a lot of other people at Tesla … But I think we’re getting there.”
Here are the meeting’s key takeaways.
On company revenue
Musk said the company would achieve profitability in late 2018, specifically Q3 and Q4. In its 14-year history, Tesla has had only two profitable quarters, so shareholders are waiting to see how Model 3 production pans out.
On the Model 3
He predicted the Tesla Model 3 production rate will finally reach the 5,000-per-week goal in late June. But consumers with their eye on the cheaper version of the car -- at $35,000, with a smaller battery pack -- will have to wait until Q1 of 2019, Musk said.
On new products
The Model Y crossover, the Tesla semi truck and the new Roadster sports car should all reach consumers around 2020, Musk said, but he failed to specify when or how he’d begin production. The company won’t offer electric motorcycles, partly due to Musk’s personal experience with a past motorcycle crash. Tesla will also begin opening its own body shops across the country, and Musk hopes same-day repair will be possible in some locations.
Musk said the company will debut a new version of its autopilot feature next week and continue to increase its reliability over the next six to 12 months. Tesla is adding autopilot capabilities for both lane-changing and navigating on- and off-ramps for highways, and Musk said drivers will be able to test the feature via free trials.