Elon Musk Hosted a Tesla ‘All Hands’ Meeting. Here’s What Happened.


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Tesla CEO Elon Musk.


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Things are getting more complicated for electric vehicle leader

Tesla.

The company is balancing the addition of new models, new capacity, and new employees—all during a pandemic and semiconductor shortage that is constraining global auto production. The rising complexity might be why CEO Elon Musk wanted to chat with employees.

Musk held an all-hands meeting that all Tesla (ticker: TSLA) employees could dial into, according to reports. Tesla didn’t respond to a request for comment.

There was good news and bad news for investors.

The bad news is that the Cybertruck is facing delays. Investors already knew delivery of Tesla’s light-duty pickup had slipped from 2021 into 2022. Now it looks as if production in volume won’t come before 2023.

That puts Tesla behind

Ford Motor

(F), Rivian, and potentially

General Motors

(GM) in the race to launch an all-electric truck at a scale of tens of thousands of units a year.

On the positive side, 2023 also appears to be the year Tesla plans to launch a smaller model costing about $25,000. Musk and Tesla management have talked about a lower-cost model for months. That is good for the company because it will dramatically expand the market Tesla can address.

A Tesla Model 3 Sedan starts at about $40,000 in the U.S. today. It’s still a higher-end sedan, costing about $60,000 in certain configurations.

To date, few details have emerged about the small model. Now analysts and investors will start to put 2023 into their financial models.

The key to selling a low-cost EV, of course, is getting battery costs down. Tesla has managed to raise its gross profit per car sold from about $11,000 to almost $15,000 over the past two years. That happened while average selling prices dropped from about $56,000 to $51,000 per car.

There was talk of a robo-van, too, but details were thin. That might be a self- driving vehicle far in the future, but Tesla also could have designs on the commercial vehicle market down the road.

Ford Motor

(F) plans to offer an electric version of its Transit van. EV trucking start-up Rivian also has a commercial vehicle planned. EVs make a lot of sense for fleets. They can be charged centrally at night, a daily route rarely exceeds one battery charge, and EVs are cheaper to maintain that traditional vehicles.

Musk also told employees that September would be a busy month for deliveries, Tesla typically delivers most of its cars in the final month of a quarter.

Tesla delivered more than 200,000 vehicles in the second quarter. Analysts are projecting about 224,000 vehicles to be delivered in the third quarter. The global chip shortage, however, will make quarterly production and deliveries a little more exciting than usual.

Tesla stock isn’t doing much in response to the mix of news. Shares closed up about 0.2% Friday. The

S&P 500

closed just down and the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

fell about 0.2%. The

Nasdaq Composite

—home to many richly valued tech stocks like Tesla—rose 0.2%, like Tesla stock.

So far in 2021, Tesla shares are up about 4% year to date, trailing behind the 21% comparable gain of the S&P 500. Still, Tesla stock is up about 80% over the past 12 months and rose 743% in 2020.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

Harry Byrne

Harry Byrne

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