Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures as he visits the construction site of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Gruenheide near Berlin, Germany, August 13, 2021.
Patrick Pleul | Reuters
At Tesla’s 2022 shareholder meeting Thursday, investors asked CEO Elon Musk how the company plans to spend its money in the coming years and about his global financial outlook.
Musk joked that “making macro forecasts is a recipe for disaster,” but still estimated that “we’re past peak inflation” and likely to see a “relatively mild recession,” lasting about 18 months.
The CEO based his financial analysis on the commodity prices Tesla is required to pay for materials and goods it needs to build electric vehicles.
“We have a good picture of where the prices of things go over time because when you’re building millions of cars, you have to buy goods many months before you need them,” he said.
In the second quarter of 2022, Russia’s war in Ukraine and the ongoing Covid pandemic in China have crippled Tesla’s Shanghai factory and exacerbated supply chain crises, parts shortages and labor problems across the auto industry.
Musk was also asked how Tesla plans to use its capital in the coming years. The CEO said Tesla will primarily increase its capital spending and research and development spending “as quickly as we can without wasting it.” He added that “some kind of stock buyback is possible,” depending on how Tesla’s future cash flow looks.
Musk, who is also SpaceX’s CEO, said he “wouldn’t want to commit” to buybacks of Tesla stock even though a force majeure event somewhere could change the equation. However, he reiterated that if Tesla’s future cash flow looks stable and the world is “relatively stable,” then “a share buyback is on the table.”
In total, Tesla aims to produce 20 million vehicles a year by 2030, a lofty goal, and Musk said he thinks that will take about a dozen factories, with each factory producing 1.5 million to 2 million units a year.
Tesla currently operates vehicle assembly plants in Shanghai. Fremont, California; Austin, Texas? and outside Berlin in Germany. It also produces batteries at a plant in Sparks, Nevada, which it operates jointly with Panasonic.
Tesla recently produced its 3 millionth car, Musk said Thursday, and hopes to announce a new factory location later this year.
At the same time, the company only recycles 50 vehicle battery packs a week in Nevada, Musk revealed Thursday, explaining that the number is so low because most battery packs from Tesla cars are still in use today.
During the shareholder meeting, the famous CEO also reiterated promises he’s made in the past, including that Tesla is getting closer to its goal of “solving autonomy” and delivering a self-driving vehicle capable of acting as a robot without a driver behind it. the wheel.
He regaled shareholders by seeking their input on where Tesla’s next factory should be built (many shouted “Canada”) and saying the room was seemingly full of retail investors who understood the company better than financial professionals, including its analysts. Wall Street.
But he also delivered some disappointing news to shareholders, reiterating that Tesla plans to have the Cybertruck in production by mid-2023, but won’t be able to sell it with the same specs and prices that were originally given when the company unveiled the experimental pickup in 2019.
Regarding the Cybertruck’s expected higher price, Musk said, “I think there’s no way we could have anticipated enough of the inflation that we’ve seen.” Tesla will “set up production equipment, tooling and all, starting in the next couple of months” at its plant in Austin, Texas, where Thursday’s shareholder meeting was held.
Musk boasted at the meeting that Tesla and the reusable rocket company SpaceX are two of the places engineering students most want to work today. Tesla received 3 million job applications last year, he said. He also revealed, “We allow people to move from one company to another if they want,” referring to his two businesses. “It’s cool, we support it.”
Audience members at the in-person meeting were selected through a random drawing, while other shareholders tuned in to live video streams online. Attendees at the live event offered cheers to shareholders who presented proposals that Tesla’s board did not agree to pass.
A shareholder took the microphone during a question-and-answer session, waived his right to ask Elon Musk a question and instead blasted the media for its treatment of Musk and thanked the CEO for “making the world a better place “. The shareholder also said hello to the 6-year-old at home, who said he was attending the business event at home. He received applause.
Tesla bull and CEO of The Future Fund, Gary Black, asked Musk if he could ever step down as Tesla CEO. Musk said that because of all the great people in his organization, he believed Tesla would be fine even if it was “abducted by aliens.”
He later emphasized: “I’m not leaving to be clear.”