Elon Musk’s Tesla is not going to return to the high growth rates of yesteryear until the arrival of its entry model still under development—and not even the hotly anticipated Cybertruck can change that.
The stainless-steel pickup, the first new Tesla since the Model Y launched in March 2020, has been a major pillar of investor hope ahead of its Nov. 30 delivery event, where the final price and vehicle specifications are expected to be revealed.
Its engineering has proven to be so complicated, however, Musk warned last month it will not be until halfway through the year after next before it even cracks a daily production run-rate of 250,000 trucks annualized, meaning even then output will likely be well below that number In 2025.
In the meantime, Tesla will have to lean on its existing range of ever-older models led by the core mid-size 3 sedan and Y crossover that together account for more than nine out of 10 Teslas sold. To prevent sales from dropping off as it shifts from its traditional customer base of early adopters to serving your average everyday car buyer, Musk has had to cut prices and forfeit profits.
“Tesla candidly admitted the company is now in an intermediate low-growth period,” Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner wrote, citing a meeting with the head of investor relations, Martin Viecha.
That puts pressure on the next-gen platform to deliver on Tesla’s sky-high growth ambitions. This vehicle architecture is expected to underpin a whole new range of models, starting with what is believed to be a dedicated robotaxi van and a $25,000 car.
At the annual general meeting in May, Musk estimated the duo could combine to account for 5 million EVs annually, more than double the 1.8 million forecast for the entire company this year.
No rendering, sketch or indication of what car will look like
Viecha confirmed his comments to investors on social media, posting “we’re between two major growth waves.”
When the $25,000 model will launch this next phase of growth is anyone’s guess at this point. Musk refuses to go “full tilt” to build his fifth vehicle plant in Mexico where the low-cost car will be built.
Speculation has now emerged that Tesla’s two currently underutilized factories in Texas and Germany could begin production of the model prior to the new Gigafactory coming on line.
“While Tesla was not willing to discuss the timing of the next-gen vehicle, or its original assembly location, it indicated that internal timeline remains unchanged and on track,” Deutsche’s Rosner added.
At the company’s Investor Day in March, vice president of engineering Lars Moravy hinted it could be two years. This roughly coincides with Musk financier Ron Baron’s expectation last week that the model was 12-18 months away.
Typically however carmakers will at least tease a design rendering in advance, if not the whole car. The Semi and Cybertruck that are currently both in initial pilot production were revealed back at the end of 2017 and late 2019, respectively. The seemingly logical conclusion is that Tesla has therefore not yet agreed on a final design for its low-cost car.
Musk may be holding off, however, since he remains so singularly dependent on the 3 and Y for sales that he cannot afford customers putting off the purchase a new car in the expectation a more suitable Tesla model is right around the corner.