Tesla’s newest car, the Model Y midsize crossover, is already the automaker’s biggest selling vehicle by revenue, he said, and in 2023 would be the volume leader.
The Model Y, with about 40,000 sales in Europe through June, already slightly outsold the Model 3 sedan, according to market analyst company Dataforce.
Tesla’s most anticipated new model, the Cybertruck, is scheduled to start production in Texas in the middle of next year, he said, with the first production equipment to be installed in the coming months.
Musk said the pricing and specifications for the Cybertruck had changed since reservations opened in 2019, due to inflation and other external factors.
“A lot has changed since then,” he said, adding that there was no way to anticipate inflation.
Musk said that the worst of the current surge in inflation was probably past, given Tesla’s monitoring of commodity prices, but a “moderate” recession was probably in store for the U.S. that could last 18 months.
“We’re seeing in most of our commodities — more than half — the prices are trending down in six months,” he said, “which suggests we are past peak inflation.”
In contrast to the Lehman Brothers crisis of 2008, the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong, he said.
“I think inflation will drop rapidly, and we’ll have a mild to moderate recession in the next 18 months,” Musk said.
Musk touched on other topics at the meeting, which was held at the Texas factory. Among them:
- Manufacturing: Musk said the key to Tesla’s long-term profitability is its manufacturing strategy, which aims to rethink how cars are built. He pointed to the “Giga Press,” which casts structural elements in a single piece aluminum that can replace hundreds of individual welded steel parts. “Everyone will have EVs and eventually all cars will be self driving, but the thing that will be hardest to replicate is Tesla’s manufacturing strategy,” he said.
- Self-driving: Tesla hopes to have widespread Full Self-Driving (its highest level of driver assistance, which still requires the driver to pay attention) beta testing available this year in the U.S., although Mercedes has already received approval in Germany for its own “Level 3” self-driving system. “We’ve made some pretty significant architectural improvements” in the system, Musk said, pointing to advances in making complex left turns across traffic.
- CEO succession: With a long-term product road map, Musk said, “Tesla would continue to do very well even if I was kidnapped by aliens.” “I intend to stay with Tesla as long as I can be useful,” he added. “The company has a very bright future even without me.”