Matt Pressman and I recently had what sounded like a fun and useful idea — connect with a few top Tesla followers and thought leaders at the 2021 Tesla Annual Meeting for a post-meeting chat. Attending the meeting ended up being out of the question, but the modification to the plan may have resulted in an even better show anyway. To start with, aside from myself, this is who was on the show:
- Matt Pressman: President of EVANNEX, the #1 online destination for Tesla aftermarket parts and accessories. Matt writes for the weekly EVANNEX blog and writes a Tesla newsletter. He has also edited two books on Tesla and has been published on CleanTechnica for years.
- Eli Burton: Founder of My Tesla Adventure and creator of the graphic novel series Adventures of Starman.
- Ryan McCaffrey: Host of Ride the Lightning: The Tesla Unofficial Podcast. Ryan started his podcast in 2015. In 2019, he interviewed Elon Musk for episode 200. He also interviewed Franz von Holzhausen, Tesla’s top vehicle designer, for episode 220.
You can now watch or listen to the full show here:
After short intros about each of us, the first topic we dove into was Tesla sales. That included Tesla’s rapid, enormous, unprecedented sales growth over the past 9 years as well as the big 20 million vehicle annual target for 2030. We each talked about that ambitious 2030 target and what it would mean if Tesla achieved even half of that. I won’t spoil the points everyone made — you just have to watch the show if this intrigues you. Of course, I did bring up that my April 18 forecast for Q3 Tesla deliveries was 240,000 and Tesla ended up delivering 241,300, just 0.5% more than my forecast. Also, I highlighted that Elon Musk’s long-term sales forecasts for Tesla have actually proven to be very accurate, much more so than some of his more frequently discussed short-term and midterm forecasts.
One of the most interesting parts of the whole discussion for me was Matt Pressman talking about their order flow at EVANNEX. Since the company is the top producer and seller of aftermarket Tesla accessories and products, Matt and his crew have exceptional insight into Tesla deliveries “in real time” — since people tend to order those accessories and products right before or right after receiving their cars. We recently got global delivery numbers from Tesla, but if you want a bit more insight into delivery trends in the US versus globally, I recommend listening to what Matt has to say on that (starting around 18:00 into the video). As part of that, he had some interesting points when talking about the difference between 2020 and 2021 sales.
Ryan McCaffrey then stepped in and highlight some stunning stats on Tesla Giga Shanghai production. The current run rate in Shanghai is reportedly approaching 850,000 vehicles a year. That’s now more than Tesla’s California factory, which is something Elon Musk briefly touched on during the company’s annual meeting this week. Much more fun number crunching is in the show.
After a bit more talk about European EV sales growth, the odd US market, and expected EV adoption in the coming years, we stepped away from that topic and jumped to one a reader brought up — Tesla R&D. The big question: what is Tesla focusing its R&D dollars on these days. There was a lot of potential there for the panelists to go off the deep end with crazy ideas, but being the practical, big-picture, and veteran-yet-visionary Tesla followers they are, the responses centered around one thing: the lower cost, smaller, “$25,000” Tesla vehicle that is reportedly in development in China. We spent a lot of time pondering design decisions on this model — from the wild to the boring. Listen in and let us know where you land on that topic. (I’ll say that although I talked a lot about a potential “Cybercar,” I do assume this vehicle will likely be something like a smaller, more basic Model 3 or Model Y.)
The other big R&D topic we talked about: Tesla AI, including for Full Self Driving. We’ve written a lot about those topics, so I encourage you to scroll through those archives if you haven’t been following for long, but this is the top piece anywhere that I recommend for considering Tesla’s foray into general AI: “How Tesla AI Day Leads To Asteroid-Mining Robots.”
Something I had never heard or read explained so well is how Eli Burton described his experience with Tesla FSD Beta over the past several months. He offers a fascinating and useful take on how that software is improving over time — almost like a kid developing athletically, learning how to do something, stumbling through it a bit, and then refining their abilities and skill. That is a must-listen section
We also talked about vehicle-to-grid, vehicle-to-home, the Tesla Powerwall, the Tesla yoke, mass-market EV adoption and Tesla adoption, stainless steel versus paint, and more! Click on the video embedded above or right here to watch the full discussion.
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