Musk opened his speech by pointing out that the Model 3 outsells all of its competitors combined (which includes the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and Lexus IS), which we’ve known for a while. But he also said that the Model 3 is America’s “best-selling car by revenue.” Put another way — and note that we can’t actually verify whether it’s accurate, though others have crunched the numbers and the claim seems plausible — Tesla claims that the total revenue brought in from all Model 3s sales so far in America exceeds that of any other single vehicle.
About 45 minutes into the meeting, Musk revealed that Tesla plans to unveil its long-awaited pickup truck “hopefully this summer,” which means sometime within the next few months. The pickup was again referred to as a cyberpunk truck, “something that looks like it came out of a sci-fi movie,” foreshadowing a design that’s expected to be a sharp departure from typical fullsize pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 that it will theoretically compete against.
Next, Musk talks about Tesla’s all-electric semi truck. Production of the commercial vehicle was initially planned for 2019, but has now been pushed back to the end of 2020. The timelines have had to adjust based on Tesla’s ability to scale the production of batteries. “There’s not much point in increasing product complexity if we don’t have enough batteries,” said Musk. Almost as an aside, he then mentioned that Tesla may have to get into the mining business, “a little bit at least,” in order to ensure it has access to the raw materials needed to continue scaling battery production.
A question-and-answer session concluded the meeting, and it included some noteworthy nuggets. For instance, Musk said that Tesla could launch its own ride-hailing app using human drivers until it receives the regulatory approvals necessary to allow fully autonomous “robotaxi” services. He also said that the Model 3 (and Model Y once that’s released) will optionally be “fully vegan” by this time next year with suitable synthetic replacements for the leather used for heated seats and steering wheel covers, and that the company currently has no plans to begin advertising.
But Elon saved the best for last. An audience member asked if Tesla will build cars that go “on or under the water, or both,” and Elon seemed ready with a response. “It’s funny you should mention that. We do actually have a design for a submarine car, like the one from “The Spy Who Loved Me” — the Lotus that sort of turns into a sub,” he said, which is noteworthy because back in 2013 Elon Musk personally bought the Lotus submarine he’s talking about.
Musk quipped that Tesla would be able to make such a fully submersible car, but that it would have to be “bigger” than Bond’s Lotus, which as a movie prop doesn’t actually have to function properly. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), we’re pretty sure Tesla is not planning to build aquatic electric cars — “I think the market for this will be small,” he said — but Elon does seem to be full of surprises, right?