Elon Musk: “Tesla Master Plan 3 Is Going To Fundamentally Be About Scaling”

Tesla held its annual shareholder meeting today. (You can watch the whole thing on YouTube below.) Below are some highlights from the meeting. Overall, like Elon Musk likes to do with these and as I predicted earlier today, it was in large part a reflection on how far Tesla has come in the past decade, since the launch of the Model S. He touched on future growth plans as well, and he mentioned the AI side of Tesla but indicated that much more on that topic was being saved for AI Day on September 30, 2022.

One of the first comments he made was that Tesla aimed to reach a production run rate of 2 million cars a year by the end of the year. As CleanTechnica recently forecasted would happen, he also noted that Tesla produced its 3 millionth car in recent weeks. He referenced the fact that 10 years ago, by August 2012, they had produced fewer than 3,000 vehicles, and in just that short time, that number had risen to 3 million.

Elon joked, “It looks like one of those business plan presentation things that doesn’t actually come true, but, you know, you see it in the venture capital business plan situation. But it’s actually true. That’s the amazing part.”

I think the biggest piece of news, though, was that he said Tesla Master Plan 3 — which he recently hinted would be coming — “is going to fundamentally be about scaling.” It’s not just about scaling car production, but about scaling the whole supply chain that feeds that electric car production as well. “Just looking at the overall problem from a global macroeconomic standpoint and saying, ‘What are all the things that are needed to achieve a fully sustainable economy.’ […] What tonnage of lithium, cathode, anode, separator, electrolytes, electronics — what are all the things that need to be done in order to transition to a fully sustainable global economy? Which, I think, the sooner we do that, the better for the planet.

“I think just articulating that, and just making it clear that this is absolutely doable, and it is being done, and we just want it to be done as fast as possible.”

On the topic of Tesla’s financial trends over time, he noted that the above graph “approximately tracks to sort of mental pain, actually (hahahahahaha) — psychic damage.” More seriously, he added, “I’m just very proud of the fact we’ve actually been able to produce more cash than we have spent, and have positive retained earnings, and be worth our salt essentially.” Then he said in a quiet, joking voice expressing understatement, “And I think, uh, it’s going to go up from here.”

In the Q&A session, someone asked if Tesla would ever consider stock buybacks, and Elon said that could be on the table down the road if Tesla is spending all the money it can to grow and has developed a healthy cash cushion that could help the company ride out a deep recession or something like that. (He did also talk about the risk of recession a bit but emphasized that he thought at most we’d dip into a light recession, since there aren’t truly core economic mismatches at play like there were leading into the last big recession.)

On the topic of finances, Tesla now has the best operating margin in the industry (see graph at top). I’m sure we’ll come back to that headline item soon.

As a final note right now, on the topic of scaling up production and when asked about the Tesla Cybertruck, Elon noted that Tesla is installing production equipment for the truck right now. They still plan to be in volume production in a year. Imagine how many units of that truck will be produced in the next decade!

You can now watch the full Tesla shareholder meeting here:

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