It’s been another busy week for Tesla and the pundits charting its fortunes. The electric car company held its annual shareholder meeting on June 5, with product recalls, production delays, and high-profile crashes in recent months casting a shadow over proceedings.
Tesla’s CEO, founder, and chairman Elon Musk attempted to brush aside criticism and focus on a positive future for the company, but were the detractors convinced? Here are the 5 big things Tesla are doing right now.
1. Tesla owners will be able to trial Autopilot for free
As Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ feature remains in the news for all the wrong reasons, the company is looking to release a free trial of its self-driving software in the coming months, in a bid to improve public trust in its capabilities.
It usually costs Tesla car owners $1,000 to upgrade their vehicles with Autopilot, or up to $5,000 to have the feature included at purchase.
2. SpaceX is working on the next Tesla Roadster
The meeting also brought with it a host of intriguing announcements. The Tesla CEO teased a ‘SpaceX upgrade’ package for its upcoming Roadster model, utilizing SpaceX’s rocket technology and potentially allowing it to “fly short hops”. We’re yet to hear whether the car will be literally ‘flying’ or just seeing some sort of speed boost.
3. Production issues continue, but are improving
Tesla has yet to meet its original goal of shipping 5,000 of its Model 3 sedans per week. But after a thorough reorganization of its factory – including scaling back its use of robots and hiring more human staff – the company is now producing 3,500 cars a week, and is aiming to bridge the gap by the end of June.
4. The Model 3 is still outselling everything
Issues on Tesla’s production line seem not to have affected sales of its Model 3 sedan, which the company claimed on Twitter was now the “best-selling mid-sized premium sedan in the USA”. Which is pretty good for a car that nobody has managed to get their hands on yet.
Model 3 is now the best-selling mid-sized premium sedan in the USA pic.twitter.com/xI7LsgRI6DJune 5, 2018
There are a lot of qualifiers in that sentence, but the Model 3 has seen a lot of interest as the most affordable electric car from the automaker, even as Tesla struggles to try and ship at the same rate it is selling, and Jaguar’s rival I-PACE electric car sees growing interest.
5. Musk is holding off the opposition, for now
One of the more dramatic moments of the meeting came when Musk narrowly survived an attempt to oust him from the position of chairman by one of the board’s directors.
While Musk also holds the titles of founder and chief executive at Tesla, losing the chairmanship would significantly reduce his influence over the company, in which he has a 20% stake. Some investors are unhappy with the ongoing production delays and blame Musk for the volatile nature of Tesla’s stock, even as Tesla’s total valuation nears the $50bn mark.
Given the number of factors at play, we’ll be very interested to see Tesla can continue to hold things together.