Tesla meeting: The “cyberpunk truck,” vegan cars, and mining? – Green Car Reports

At Tesla’s annual meeting with shareholders Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk once again had to field a diverse range of questions about its business, as well as provide a reality check on some overly optimistic timelines he’d previously provided.

In April, Musk announced that the company planned to enter the insurance business and save Tesla owners money by launching an insurance program in May that “will be much more compelling than anything else out there.”

That program hasn’t yet arrived or even been detailed by Tesla. At Tuesday’s meeting, Musk said that the company has “a small acquisition that we need to complete, and a bit of software to write.”

In response to another question pointing out his own sliding timeline for Advanced Summon, Musk chuckled. “I’m sometimes a little optimistic about timeframes,” he quipped.

“It’s close to being amazing,” he said of Advanced Summon, a feature that will allow vehicles to drive unoccupied across parking lots to owners. He added: “It’s not quite there, but it’s close…close to being magical.”

Tesla Solar Roof

Tesla Solar Roof

And then there’s the company’s solar roof, which has run into manufacturing and cost issues. Musk said that it is about to complete Version 3 of the roof and is deploying it in eight states. “This is actually quite a hard technology problem to have an integrated solar cell with a roof tile and have it look good and last 30 years,” he said. Musk said that they have a shot at costing the same as an existing roof, plus utility cost.

Cyberpunk Truck

Musk didn’t reveal any new information about the upcoming pickup, although the company’s presentation referred to it as the “Cyberpunk Truck.” Musk said that it hopes to unveil the pickup, which he said looks like it came from a sci-fi movie, later this summer.

Musk repeated previous claims for the Tesla pickup—that it will have a different form factor than other trucks, match the abilities of the Ford F-150 yet be a better sports car than a base Porsche 911. “We spent a lot of time designing the pickup truck…I think it’s going to be great, and I think it’s the coolest car I’ve ever seen,” he said, adding, “Worst case scenario, we’ll build a normal-looking truck…no problem, we know what those look like.”

Tesla Semi early sketches possibly preview design of Tesla pickup truck

Tesla Semi early sketches possibly preview design of Tesla pickup truck

Musk also announced that the company is planning a battery and powertrain investor day, when it would reveal more details surrounding its acquisition of Maxwell Technologies, which is related to scaling cell production and reducing cost. And suggested that the company could even become involved in mining if necessary.

“There’s not much point in adding product complexity if we don’t have enough batteries,” Musk said. “We might get into the mining business, I don’t know…We’ll do whatever we have to to ensure that we can scale at the fastest rate possible.”

Market strengths, and no “demand problem”

Musk pointed out that Tesla last year made as many cars as in its entire history leading up to then—and that the Tesla Model 3 is the best-selling car by revenue in the U.S. market, among all vehicles including luxury brands. He claimed that in its class the Model 3 is outselling the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4/S4, and Lexus [IS] combined.

2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance

2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance

Tesla maintains some engineering strengths that translate directly to product strengths. Musk noted its vehicles’ efficiency, and that no other brand has exceeded the range of the Model S when it came out in 2012. “It’s a testament to the Tesla engineering team…to have made a car seven years ago that has still not been exceeded in range,” said Musk, adding that with steady improvements to range “it won’t be long before we have a 400-mile-range car.”

The CEO also stated that Tesla does not have a demand problem, and it still can’t produce enough cars to meet demand. “We have a decent shot at a record quarter, on every level,” said Musk, who added that 90 percent are coming from non-reservation holders.

Vegan, aquatic

The animal rights organization PETA asked about Tesla’s continued use of leather in the steering wheel, and pointed out that, for EV drivers’ concern over carbon emissions, animal agriculture (including the leather industry) emits more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transportation combined.

Submersible Lotus Esprit from James Bond flick ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

Submersible Lotus Esprit from James Bond flick ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

Musk replied that they’re close to having a non-leather steering wheel that’s heated, according to Tesla, and confirmed that Model Y will be vegan as promised, with special-order possibilities for Model S and X.

But that wasn’t the most offbeat question. Musk confirmed, when asked about aquatic cars, that Tesla does actually have a design for a submarine car.

“I think the market for this will be small,” he said. “It would be a bit of a distraction I think…but maybe we’ll make one as a show car at some point, that would be fun.”

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