The American car company Tesla has had a very turbulent period. The brand, which is the epitome of innovative technology and rapid growth, seems to have stalled at the very end of last year, especially in terms of December performance. The share price (TSLA) hit a two-year low, experts shook their heads in disbelief, and Elon Musk came under a wave of criticism.
Through the lens of the numbers, however, it’s impossible not to notice a fairly fundamental contradiction. The carmaker delivered a record number of vehicles last year. In the aftermath, while it confirmed that the last quarter remained slightly behind expectations, the current trend is just as obvious.
In 2022, Tesla produced approximately 1,369,600 electric vehicles and delivered more than 1,313,850 of them. In Q4, it delivered 405,278 EVs, nearly 100,000 more than in the same period last year. As a result, this means the following – a 40% year-on-year increase in deliveries and up to 47% higher production volumes.
So much for the oft-repeated accusation that “Tesla has a production problem”. Unfortunately, Wall Street analysts, partly in response to earlier predictions, were expecting a better end to the year, and this was reflected in the lukewarm (dis)confidence shown by leading investors.
It can therefore be assumed that the brand will also want to build on this year. In addition, there are rumours from behind the scenes that a significantly cheaper electric car, or rather a cheaper electric vehicle platform, may be in play, which we should hear about during the Tesla Investor Day event, which will take place this March 1 at the Texas Gigafactory in Germany, and will be available for viewing live and online.
A cheap Tesla on the horizon?
It’s the brand-new 3rd generation platform that could be just the kindest step towards a more affordable car.
Another attraction this year is the start of mass production of the long-awaited Tesla Cybertruck. If the plan can be kept, this could be a significant gamechanger, especially around Christmas time. But that’s assuming Tesla can sell the first units.
Musk’s repeated mention of a gradual ramp-up to production in the second half of 2023 does not contradict this idea, quite the contrary. The only problem is whether everything will go as planned. If we consider that Cybetruck is at least two years late compared to the original assumptions, the question is whether the last announced date will actually be the last one.
On the other hand, the production of the Cybetruck will allow the company to enter the US electric vehicle market in one of the most profitable segments; i.e., the vehicle could become a strong competitor to electric pickups from Ford or Rivian. Although Musk has said that they have so many takers on pre-orders alone that it would cover up to three years of production, but as they say – price will decide.
Fully autonomous driving?
A lot has been written about fully autonomous driving in relation to Tesla. Despite the undeniable successes and visible progress over the last few years, Autopilot, Enhanced Autopilot and especially Full Self-Driving (FSD) cannot be seen as not requiring active driver supervision.
The carmaker itself points out on its official website that full autonomy depends on achieving reliability well beyond the capabilities of a “human driver”. However, we don’t think such a thing is out of the question this year. So far, the latest Tesla FSD V11 looks really great, engineers have enhanced the software with a lot of features and even unified some of them in an exemplary way, but it doesn’t look like full autonomy yet.
A huge expansion is on the way
It was mentioned several times last year that around 8 new factories would be needed to meet the carmaker’s ambitious plan. In addition to South Korea, Mexico was also in Musk’s sights as a suitable location for the Gigafactory.
Another potential candidate is Canada. A few months ago, we reported on speculation about cooperation between the electric car manufacturer and the Canadian government. This would again mean the possibility of a dramatic increase in annual production.
Elon Musk’s departure from Tesla?
Although Elon Musk is first and foremost a visionary technologist, and is serving as Tesla’s CEO out of necessity rather than pleasure, there is no indication that anyone else will be in the CEO’s chair anytime soon. Despite the admiration and loathing that has been expressed, the car company is not just a one-man operation.
Critics argue, however, that the brilliant Elon has become a man of many interests in recent years. As an example of his waning enthusiasm, he cites his declining shareholding in the company and the fact that he has focused his attention perhaps too much on Twitter, of which he became an owner last year.