Tesla teases but fails to excite at Investor Day

“Tesla to show 25 000 dollar car.” “Musk will ready a hydrogen model as of this year.” Before this year’s Investor Day, rumors were plenty of what the famous EV maker would unveil. But news hunters came back with not much more than some souvenir photos for their social media, as Elon Musk kept himself specifying how the earth’s road map to a renewable energy future will look. It’s called Master Plan 3, and it will cost a fortune.

But in the shades of the event, some exciting evolutions were registered. Tesla confirmed the construction of its new factory in Mexico, announced an electric motor without rare-earth materials, and shared some insight on bidirectional charging. Then there was also a picture of a house equipped with a wireless home charging station.

A bill of $10 trillion

The previous ‘Master Plan Deux,’ from 2017, revealed revolutionary urban transport, like the hyperloop, and a fleet of robotaxis. However, this time, Elon Musk only outlined his optimism on the world’s transition to renewable energy production, claiming it would cost $10 trillion. A huge budget, but it didn’t raise much consternation.

No news on the affordable Model 2 or the facelift for the Model 3. But maybe it’s better not to showcase a spectacular product if you can’t deliver on it in real life or at the proposed timing, as Musk so often did in the past, and keep reasonable. So was Investor Day a change of heart in that sense?

Next-gen model in Mexico

Maybe, the most exciting technology at the show was the announcement that the company would return to an electric motor without rare-earth materials. Instead, its next-generation permanent magnet motor will be independently produced from the precious metals mainly mined in China. They will applaud as the Biden Administration has made laws decoupling EV and component manufacturing from foreign nations. And reward it with tax reductions.

Also, Tesla did confirm choosing Mexico for its manufacturing expansion, and as explained as logical since it’s in the vicinity of Tesla’s headquarters and factory in Austin, Texas, streamlining the supply chain. A timeline was not disclosed, but confirmation was given on assembling a next-gen model. Official cooperation is not an issue, as Tesla has negotiated a private crossing border lane with the State of Nuevo Leon, where the plant will be built.

Musk says no

Though Investor Day was low-key on product news, some exciting prospects appeared during Q&A afterward. Tesla confirmed it was still on track for releasing the Cybertruck later this year (but without sharing a specific launch date) and shed some light on bidirectional charging.

Unlike competitor brands Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Rivian, offering the ability to run domestic appliances by the car battery pack, Tesla remains on the sidelines. Peculiar for a brand that has its own home energy subsidiary.

“It’s not a priority at this time,” said Tesla’s chief of Energy Engineering, Drew Baglino, at the media talk after the presentation, but added that it could happen within two years. A skeptical Elon Musk joined in, saying he doesn’t see a customer case for bidirectional charging, summing it up: “unless you have a Powerwall, (…) if you unplug your car, your house goes dark, and this is extremely inconvenient.”

Inductive home charging

“Oh, and one more thing,” quoted the Head of Charging Infrastructure at Tesla, Rebecca Tinucci, “we also want to make sure that we are continuing to be focused on providing incredible charging experiences.” Upon which she showed a slide of a pad on the ground in a garage with a Tesla parked above it, pointing at the development of a domestic inductive charging point.

In typical American fashion, the EV maker will also uplift its public charging experience with a so-called Tesla diner: a Supercharger station with a restaurant and a movie drive-in, already under development in California. Exciting? Yes, but not genuine news as this project has been in work for a long time.


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