Tesla Motors remains on course – with some interesting surprises

At Tesla’s annual shareholders’ meeting CEO Elon Musk covered a great deal of topics important to those following the electric car company, and his answers were reassuring as usual and hinted at a few twists to look forward to.

The year 2014 has been called a year of ‘execution’ for Tesla Motors. Not meaning the company is headed for the guillotine, but that it has a lot of important projects on its plate this year and must execute their strategy to near perfection to maintain their enormous momentum. Judging by the words of CEO Elon Musk at this Tuesday’s shareholder meeting, all is still going according to plan.

Musk’s presentation began with the expected rundown of updates. Model S has now collectively traveled 344 million miles with no serious permanent injuries – including somebody who “drove it off a cliff.” Tesla hopes to double the current number of Superchargers by the end of 2014 to well over 200 worldwide. Musk also reiterated that the constraint on battery cells is gradually fading, allowing greater volumes of Model S to be produced in the second half of the year.

Tesla to break ground at three Gigafactory sites

As always, the Gigafactory was a point of discussion. Musk remains optimistic about a minimum 30% cost reduction in battery packs, a number he claims Panasonic has finally come around to. The CEO indicated that sometime within the next month Tesla will select and break ground at three sites, not two as had been previously reported. The final site will be selected by the end of this year.

Production Model X to be “better than the show car”

Model X, which has been delayed more than the company would have liked, is on track for volume production in the second quarter of 2015. The reason for the long wait? According to Musk, Tesla believes in making production cars that are superior to their ‘show car’ predecessors, which is quite a refreshing change even if we must wait a few extra months. Musk indicated it is very difficult to produce not just a very good car, but “an amazing car that will blow people away.”

Generation III updates

The Gen III car will no longer be called Model E, because according to Musk Ford threatened to sue over the trademark. However, Tesla is in the process of applying for the trademark of the new name so we may know it soon. The plan is for the car to be released in late 2016 with volume production occurring the following year. It is still expected to cost $35,000 with 200 miles of range, which Musk claimed to be the equivalent of a $28,000 gasoline car ($24,000 in Europe) based on fuel cost savings. Though he has been known for what might be called ‘ambitious math’ in the past, we’ll take his word on this one.

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