Tesla CEO Musk: “No New Models in 2022-Cybertruck Hopefully in 2023”
The words that many Cybertruck faithful were hoping not to hear were spoken today from Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk in a Q4 earnings call. “There will be no new models in 2022, it wouldn’t make sense,” he said. From a capacity perspective, it doesn’t make sense. But that must sound hollow at best to the hundreds of thousands of Cybertruck reservation holders.
There is Cybertruck news, and then there is worse Cybertruck news
What could be worse was what he said when asked about the production date for the Tesla Roadster, semi-truck, and Cybertruck. “Hopefully, next year,” he said. That is not reassuring, especially with all of the delays since buyers first saw the Cybertruck in November 2019.
And really, it shouldn’t be reassuring for Tesla, as competition for all-electric pickup trucks is heating up. Rivian has its own now, with the Ford F-150 Lightning coming in just a few months. But Tesla has reasons to wait, as explained in the earnings call.
“If we were to introduce new vehicles, our total vehicle output would decrease,” Musk said. “We will not be introducing new vehicle models this year, it would not make any sense. We will, however, do a lot of engineering, and tooling, whatnot, to create those vehicles.” Those vehicles are the Cybertruck, Roadster, and semi-truck.
Tesla is spread so thin delaying Cybertruck production is understandable
You could say Tesla is spread pretty thin right now. Besides scaling up production, it has other projects, both car-related and non-car-related. It is doubling down on autonomous technology. “Over time, we think Full Self Driving will become the most important source of profitability for Tesla,” said Musk.
Then there is the robotics project. “I think actually, the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot,” Musk said. “It has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time.”
The thing about Tesla is that it is doing more, and developing more, than traditional vehicle manufacturers like GM or Ford. They’re only now throwing billions of dollars into the technology front just to catch up to Tesla. And being traditionally conservative and massive corporations neither has the ability to move quickly nor to make snap decisions the way Tesla is doing.
Tesla hasn’t cracked the three year time it traditionally takes to make new vehicles
But it still takes a lot of time to develop a vehicle. Tesla over the years has found out it has trouble whittling development time any better than the major automakers. Most new vehicle development takes three years, and no vehicle manufacturer has been able to shorten that time much. The Cybertruck may take longer than three years, in fact.
But the good news for Tesla, and investors, is that it had a record $5.5 billion profit for 2021, with $53.8 billion in sales. That beat most Wall Street estimates. And innovations, like the 4680 structural battery pack design, is practically in production for the Model Y. And Tesla is looking to build more factories, though it isn’t saying where right now.
So for Cybertruck reservation holders and Tesla enthusiasts alike, it’s not what they wanted to hear, but it is at least understandable. And we still expect some surprises in 2022 from Tesla just to keep the hype going in a year without any new products.