March 4, 2021

Tesla deliveries to rise 30% to 40% in 2020

SpaceX founder Elon Musk looks on at a post-launch news conference after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifted off on an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, March 2, 2019.

Mike Blake | Reuters

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the company’s 2020 annual shareholder meeting and battery day presentation that he expects vehicle deliveries to increase by 30 to 40 percent over last year, when the company reported deliveries of 367,500 vehicles. That implies deliveries of between 477,750 and 514,500 cars, a range that encompasses the 500,000 cars the company has previously said it would deliver this year.

Musk said, Tesla owners for their word-of-mouth marketing to prospective Tesla owners: 

“In 2019, we had 50% growth. And I think we’ll do really pretty well in 2020, probably somewhere between 30 to 40 percent growth, despite a lot of very difficult circumstances. I mean there’s so many – you know, pandemic, wildfires. There’s like a whole bunch of difficult production issues. But thanks to the hard work of the Tesla team and a lot of innovative approaches to overcoming issues, we’re able to still see significant growth in one of the most difficult… in fact, I say probably the most difficult year of Tesla’s existence.”

Musk also teased forthcoming updates to the company’s automated driving systems which it has marketed as a “Full Self Driving” option for $8,000.

Due partly to Covid-19 health orders that limit the size of in-person gatherings, Tesla postponed the annual meeting from July to Sept. 22, 2020 this year. The company previously held its shareholder meetings at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California but moved it to Fremont, where its U.S. vehicle assembly plant is based. Shareholders parked and sat in their cars at the meeting, which Musk characterized as a “drive-in.” 

The shareholder meeting took place in conjunction with a “battery day” presentation, where Tesla confirmed that it is making its own battery cells at a facility in Fremont.

Joining Musk on stage, Tesla’s senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, Drew Baglino, described the new cells as a “large tabless cell,” with a “shingled spiral” design. The cells are larger than the ones Tesla purchases from Panasonic and other suppliers, and offer “thermal benefits” which make them appropriate for use in electric vehicles which need to be re-charged quickly and on a regular basis over a long life. 

Tesla says it aims to produce 10 gigawatt hours worth of these battery cells at its pilot plant within a year. Musk noted that whatever cells it produces in Fremont would be supplemental to 100 gigawatt hours worth of cells it buys from suppliers.

On Monday, Musk warned that the advances announced at battery day won’t find their way into mass production until 2021, sending the company’s stock down about 6% ahead of the event on Tuesday.

Those who wanted to attend had to obtain a winning lottery-style ticket (or other special access) to the meeting. Otherwise, shareholders could log into a website to ask questions to be answered during the live-streamed event.

Al Prescott, Tesla’s VP of legal, at the company’s socially distanced 2020 shareholders meeting, as attendees listen in their cars.

Since its last shareholder meeting in June 2019, Tesla’s long-time CTO JB Straubel resigned from the company. He worked there from the start, even before Musk took the CEO reins in 2008.

Tesla also appointed a new board member, Hiromichi Mizuno, formerly the Chief Investment Officer of the Japan Government Pension Investment Fund, and a famous critic of shortsellers. Long-time Elon Musk collaborator and proponent, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, is leaving the Tesla board as well, though he still sits on the board of Musk’s aerospace venture, SpaceX.

Remaining board members at Tesla authorized a five-for-one stock split, which the company implemented in August this year. The split followed four consecutive quarters of reported profitability for Tesla, and a season where Musk clashed with health authorities in California over Covid-19 restrictions that temporarily shut down their vehicle assembly plant in Fremont.

The stock split also followed a huge payout to Musk, part of his unprecedented compensation package. 

Expecting Tesla to talk about where its metals for batteries are sourced, and to promote battery tech suitable for Semi and Cybertruck vehicles, Cannacord Genuity analyst Jed Dorsheimer wrote in a note to investors before the meeting:

“The big question will be on follow through. It’s one thing to announce all these breakthroughs, which might be great for momentum algorithms, but like most things TSLA, the devil will be in the details, which sadly will take some time to play out.”

Cannacord maintains a “Hold” rating and a price target of $442 on shares of Tesla currently.

Shares of the electric car maker are up more than 400% year-to-date.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates. 

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