Tesla Motors held its annual shareholder meeting yesterday afternoon, and as always, a few nuggets of news emerged from CEO Elon Musk.
You can read a complete transcript here, but here are some quick bullet points on items that struck us as newsworthy:
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk at Tesla Store opening in Westfield Mall, London, Oct 2013
- Tesla electric cars have now covered 344 million miles, and despite some serious crashes, no one has been killed in a Tesla accident
- Tesla has more than 100 Supercharger DC fast-charging locations in operation today, and expects that number to double by the end of 2014
- Software updates that will roll out later this year will, according to Musk, let a Model S "[learn] your behavior and just automatically [adjust] to what you want," specifically including things like "traffic-based directions, and calendar integration, and anticipating where you are going--alerting you if there is traffic along the way and an alternate route may be better--and that kind of thing"
- The traffic information will come from "cars operating collaboratively as a network, sort of a cloud sourced intelligence as to the traffic information," and the quality of that information will improve the more Teslas there are in a given area
- The underbody shields built into all Model S cars assembled from March onwards, and offered as a free retrofit to any owner who wants them, "aren't really necessary, but sort of...will be helpful, so that you can drive over concrete block and be okay," in Musk's words
Tesla Model S added battery shield - front deflector from front, looking toward rear of car
- Tesla Motors continues to be constrained by production capacity, with its supply of lithium-ion battery cells the major limiting factor
- That will improve steadily over the next year, and the company will continue ramping up production as it does
- Tesla expects the average price of a Model S purchase to fall slightly, from more than $100,000 now to roughly $95,000
- The first right-hand-drive Tesla Model S cars will be delivered in London this weekend, and Musk plans to be there for that event
- As for the Gigafactory, Tesla is "getting quite advanced in the planning" and continues to anticipate a 30-percent cost reduction for lithium-ion cells built there--a number that, Musk said, its cell partner Panasonic is now comfortable with
- However, while the company had expected to break ground on a first Gigafactory site this month, site selection and groundbreaking will not happen until the end of this year, Musk said
- Musk also suggests that Tesla will begin preparatory work on multiple sites in "two or maybe three states, all the way to creating a foundation and creating the plans and getting approval"--with the final choice of the first factory coming by the end of 2014
2013 Tesla Model S on Chilcotin Highway, Canada [photo: owner Vincent Argiro]
- The Gigafactory is still expected to supply lithium-ion battery packs for 500,000 electric vehicles a year by 2020
- The 2,500 or so existing Tesla Roadsters built from 2008 through 2012 will be offered an upgrade this year--but a replacement Roadster, built on the company's next-generation car platform, remains a consider time in the future
- Musk plans to stay in his current CEO role for at least four or five more years, "through [the start of] volume production of the third-generation car"
Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]
- Volume production of the Tesla Model X crossover utility vehicle will occur during the second quarter of 2015, and the final vehicle will differ in a number of respects from the concepts that have been shown to date; Musk commented that it's "bloody hard" to get the vehicle to the "amazing experience" the company wants it to be
- The third-generation Tesla electric car remains targeted at a $35,000 price and a 200-mile range, with a goal for market release "sort of the late 2016 timeframe"
- Following the end of the Toyota RAV4 EV powertrain contract, Musk said Toyota was "interested in doing sort of a high volume deal for battery packs and powertrains"--but Tesla was sufficiently constrained in its own production that it couldn't provide what Toyota wanted, although Musk said the two would "circle back maybe in a year or two" once those production constraints had eased
- Musk acknowledged that, "historically, our seats have not been the best," and said a new seat design would be launched this year--and offered as a retrofit to existing Model S owners
- Tesla abandoned the "Model E" name after Ford threatened to sue the company for using it, but now Tesla is looking at new model names for its third-generation car; Musk says, "I think we’ve got something that might be...good, might work out pretty well"
Again, for further details from the complete Tesla annual-meeting webcast, see the complete transcript.