Cybertrucks, new factories in the spotlight as Tesla prepares to declare record profits

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By Hyun Joo Jin

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Tesla Inc is expected to post record sales on Wednesday, but analysts and investors are focused on how quickly Tesla can ramp up production at two new factories this year with technology changes as well as batteries and other supply chain constraints. perspectives.

Chief Executive Elon Musk promises an updated product roadmap on Wednesday, with an eye on Cybertruck launch timelines and a hoped-for $25,000 electric car.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla had significant manufacturing challenges, churning out the new vehicle structures and new batteries in large volumes,” said Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid.

Tesla has weathered the global supply chain crisis better than other automakers, churning out a record number of vehicles and revenue is expected to rise 52% in the fourth quarter to $16.4 billion, data shows. Refinitiv.

Automotive gross margin excluding regulatory credits is expected to be flat or up slightly from the prior quarter, despite an inflationary environment that is negatively impacting component costs, said Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup. ventures.

NEW FACTORIES

Analysts have said Tesla’s two new factories in Texas and Berlin could eventually double Tesla’s production capacity, but it’s unclear if Tesla has started production.

Musk said the new factories will use manufacturing technologies such as casting the body in just two or more pieces and integrating next-generation batteries into the vehicle body.

While new technologies would help reduce the number of vehicle parts, thereby reducing manufacturing complexity and costs, they could pose a “significant production risk,” Musk said in 2020.

Additionally, investors will want to know the supply chain outlook as automakers scramble to meet demand for electric vehicles.

4680 BATTERIES

Tesla expected the first vehicles with its own 4680 battery, which could give cars more range and reduce costs, to ship early this year, but it’s unclear when it would be able to. to mass-produce batteries.

Tesla’s main battery supplier, Panasonic, will start producing its new batteries for Tesla as early as 2023 in Japan, the Nikkei reported on Monday. LG Energy Solution was also targeting 2023 production of the 4680 cells, Reuters reported last year.

CYBERTRUCK

In 2019, Musk unveiled Tesla’s futuristic electric pickup trucks, aiming to gain a foothold in the popular and profitable segment of the US market.

Musk, who has often missed his self-imposed launch targets, has already delayed Cybertruck production from late 2021 to late 2022. A source told Reuters that Tesla aims to start initial production of the highly anticipated model in early 2023 , claiming that they are making modifications to the features and functionality of its original version.

“This is the first time Tesla has released a vehicle with serious competition,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of AutoForecast Solutions, referring to Ford and Rivian, which plan to ramp up production.

As it is very difficult to break into the American truck market – the territory of the American “Big Three” automakers, Tesla is likely to target “weekend warriors or lifestyle buyers” instead. than traditional commercial buyers, he said.

$25,000 ELECTRIC CARS

In 2020, Musk promised that in three years Tesla would offer a $25,000 electric car that could drive itself.

Tesla Vice President Lars Moravy said in October that the company would not add new vehicles while battery cells were limited, and production of its existing models would be prioritized.

“Longer-term investors care about Model 2,” Munster said with the current price of vehicles, Tesla would not be able to increase volume by 50% each year.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco, additional reporting by Akash Sriram in Bangalore; editing by Peter Henderson and Bernard Orr)

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