First-quarter earnings — and the call with analysts that will follow — should provide insight into how Tesla has managed the conflicting events of skyrocketing demand and a squeezed supply chain. And if the earnings call follows Tesla and Musk’s typical trajectory, it should also give investors an update on other aspects of the business, as well as what a bid for Twitter might mean for the EV maker.
One analyst told TechCrunch it’s the “perfect time” for Tesla to introduce Part 3. “I couldn’t think of a better time,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas. “You need someone who has influence. Tesla has a deterministic size, scale and business — they generate a lot of cash.”
“Having someone who can talk with authenticity and experience to governments, mining companies, up and down the supply chain — Elon has had an enormous impact and telemetry of adoption,” he added. “He is doing the very hard stuff, physical, earth-moving capital-intensive stuff.”
Musk hasn’t said much about this third part in the company’s “master plan.” He did reveal on Twitter that artificial intelligence and scaling the automaker’s operations will be the themes that will dominate the next installment in Tesla’s long-term playbook.
The first-quarter earnings call could be the moment that Musk begins to let everyone else in on his plan.
However, uncertainty surrounding China’s recent surge of COVID-19 cases means that Tesla may need to rely more heavily on its factories in Berlin, Austin and Fremont, California. The constrained supply at Gigafactory Shanghai could crimp the Chinese market for Tesla’s vehicles if Chinese buyers are suddenly faced with high tariffs to import EVs into the country.
Tesla’s quarterly shareholder letters don’t typically acknowledge other automakers. However, in this increasingly competitive and crowded EV landscape, Tesla can’t stay silent forever — at least not internally.
Global automakers from Volkswagen and Mercedes to Ford and GM are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in a race to electrify a significant share of their portfolios by the end of the decade. Many of these companies have specifically named Tesla’s own Model Y crossover as a target.
How Tesla defends its gains may end up being the most interesting development to watch in 2022 and into early next year as numerous EVs come to market. Will it be through a sheer volume play? Or will Tesla lean into the software that helped it achieve dominance in the first place?
Tesla has branded itself as a sustainable energy company, but to date the vast majority of its revenue comes from the sale of EVs and its related products.
We’ll be watching for cues on whether this kind of approach to revenue generation will continue and how far it will extend.
With inflation rising and supply chain constraints continuing, Tesla may signal future price hikes on its vehicles or the à la carte-charge-for-every-add-on tactic that has emerged in recent months.
Speaking of revenue drivers, “Full Self-Driving” software beta, a $12,000 upgrade to the standard Autopilot advanced driver assistance system, will be another item to watch out for.
Expect an update on how many Tesla owners now have access to the beta software and forward-looking statements on future rollouts and improvements in functionality, as well as how FSD differs from a plan floated by Musk to produce a dedicated robotaxi.