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Here’s What We Could See at Tesla’s Investor Day

  • At Tesla’s Investor Day, scheduled for March 1, Tesla is expected to reveal the third part of its long-term Master Plan.
  • The automaker has several models in the works, including the delayed Semi and Cybertruck, with both expected to enter series production in the next 12 months at the earliest.
  • Tesla had been working on a more affordable EV, intended to be positioned below the Model 3, and may provide an update on the project this year.

    Tesla’s first Master Plan, revealed all the way back in August 2006, revealed the company’s intentions to build a wide range of EVs (after the 2008 introduction of the Tesla Roadster), “including affordably priced family cars.” It was the manifesto that previewed Tesla’s aspirations to build an extended lineup of electric cars in the 2010s—that is, after a period of catering to deep-pocketed early adopters, with the company starting off at the high end of the market. At the time the Roadster was that low-volume, high-priced electric car, and it was followed by the Model S, which appealed to a wider but no less wealthy audience. Less pricey cars were down the road.

    Almost 10 years later, in July 2016 the automaker revealed Master Plan: Part Deux, sketching out its plans for what it called “self-driving capability” as well as battery energy storage systems for home-based solar panels. The second edition of the company’s strategic vision set the goal of expanding Tesla’s model lineup, while also anticipating a relatively quick arrival of higher levels of autonomous driving technology that would “enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it.”

    The EV maker is now getting ready for the third edition of its Master Plan, set to be published during the company’s Investor Day on March 1, after a decidedly mixed record of delivering on the goals of 2016.

    What could we see the automaker announced in its longer-term plans on March 1?

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    For starters, Tesla could reveal more detailed plans of its affordable EV project, aimed at a price point well below the Model 3. The once-planned $25,000 car, as it became known over the years, was said to have been shelved at one point, or at least placed on the back burner as Tesla focused on launching several new factories and prioritizing the development of other models. The prospective EV project, sometimes called the Model 2, had at its height been teased in a sketch as Tesla readied to develop and produce the upright hatch in China.

    “We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly,” Elon Musk said regarding plans for the car in 2022, but did not indicate outright that the company had dropped the project.

    Tesla is believed to have lost some interest in the project over time, however, due to the proliferation of Chinese EVs priced well below the $25,000 mark, which further eroded the business case for the model. But the small and affordable Tesla EV project could still make a comeback during this decade, as pressure is placed on Tesla by competitors in other segments.

    During its Investor Day, Tesla could also present a production-ready version of the Cybertruck, which has been seen with increased frequency in recent months. The latest sightings of the Cybertruck have revealed some evolutionary changes, including tweaked front and rear fascias, boxier sides, and other production-ready details. The Cybertruck, described as having been benchmarked against the Ford F-150 at one point, is currently expected to enter production in late 2023 at the earliest with a number of changes inside and out, and more likely in early 2024.

    The Cybertruck has made an appearance at the Petersen Automotive Museum, but has yet to enter production, now expected in early 2024.

    ROBYN BECKGetty Images

    The Cybertruck’s possible production-ready reveal during Investor Day would not be a new direction for the company per se, long having settled into the status of the most anticipated new Tesla model, but it would allay some of Wall Street’s fears over the project just as more competitors continue to arrive to overshadow the planned model.

    The next-gen Tesla Roadster is another candidate for being included in the third edition of the company’s Master Plan, almost 10 years after it was first teased. The second-gen Roadster—shown as a rendering in 2017 purportedly boasting a 1.9-second launch time and rocket-assisted handling, among other things—was once slated for a 2022 production start.

    A high-priced Roadster with a large battery and some kind of system for firing compressed gas, however, doesn’t represent a major strategic shift for the automaker, especially with a $200,000 price as was once displayed on Tesla’s website. A second-gen Roadster could perhaps be an expensive distraction for a company that has been heading in the direction of more affordable vehicles, rather than ones aimed at early adopters.

    Still, we can’t rule out the appearance of a production version of the Roadster during Tesla’s Investor Day, though its absence, even in mention, could speak volumes regarding the company’s continued support for the project.

    Tesla has delivered a number of Semis to customers, but they are like as not prototype models.

    AaronP/Bauer-GriffinGetty Images

    While new models such as the Cybertruck, Roadster, the so-called Model 2, and the Semi are all good candidates for making cameo appearances in Tesla’s third edition of the Master Plan, a more general theme is expected to be the company’s focus on expanding its footprint at home and overseas. The automaker has inaugurated two new factories over the past year, in Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany, and Austin, Texas, with plans for an expansion of its Giga Nevada site aimed at Semi production.

    After several record quarters, the EV maker is now seen as chasing volume rather than focusing on rolling out entirely new platforms—a fact that has become self-evident as Tesla has sailed through its own targets for launch dates over the past half-decade. A focus on simply producing more of the same vehicles, albeit with light updates inside and out, has been the theme of late for Tesla, coupled with a focus on reducing costs and complexity.

    The company’s use of the Giga Press—an aluminum casting machine—has helped it simplify production as pricey competitors have continued to arrive. The EV maker’s focus on manufacturing technology, therefore, is a prime candidate for a major theme of the third Master Plan.

    What types of vehicles should Tesla focus on developing in the next five years? Let us know your thoughts.

    Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum.

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