Between an interview with Recode and Tesla Motors' (NASDAQ:TSLA) recent annual shareholder meeting, there is a lot of fresh commentary from the company's outspoken CEO, Elon Musk, available to mull over. In two other articles, I began to explore some of the takeaways from these interviews, including how Musk expects Apple to be a direct competitor to Tesla, and the company's plans for improved "falcon wing" doors, more efficient vehicle production, and Model 3 supercharging.
But there's still more to explore. Here are some more notable topics that surfaced during the two long interviews.
Will Model 3 have autonomous driving?
When asked in a recent interview at Recode's Code Conference 2016 about whether Model 3 would have autonomous driving capabilities, Musk responded that Tesla will hold another event later this year to "talk more about that."
But after Recode's Walt Mossberg pushed harder for a more specific answer, Musk said: "Let me just say that we are going to do the obvious thing. ... It's really obvious."
Musk has said on several occasions that the company is aiming to build cars capable of autonomous driving within about two years -- timing that seems to align with a planned launch for Model 3 by the end of 2017. Could the "obvious thing," therefore, be including hardware for autonomous driving capability in the Model 3?
Tesla already revealed at the Model 3's first unveiling event, which included limited information about the vehicle, that autopilot hardware would come standard. While Tesla's autopilot in current vehicles enables automatic steering and lane changes on the highway, it falls far short of total autonomy.
Nevada incentives: Worse than you think
Another interesting quote from Musk came during the company's annual shareholder meeting on May 31, when the CEO was talking about the incentives Nevada is giving Tesla for the construction of the Gigafactory. The frequently cited "$1.3 billion tax break" Tesla is receiving for its $5 billion Gigafactory massively overstates the discount the company is bringing to the state, he explained.
"In order for Tesla to earn that money over 20 years, the Gigafactory has to generate over $100 billion in revenue," Musk said. "It's basically a 1% discount."
Musk even suggested that if the press were to title an article with a more accurate headline, "Tesla receives 1% discount on Gigafactory," it "would get no clicks, because it's lame." For what it's worth, my Foolish colleague Evan Niu took on the challenge and actually wrote the article with this headline anyway.
Electric aircraft? Maybe someday.
When a shareholder asked Musk during the annual meeting about whether the company would consider building an electric aircraft in the future, Musk unsurprisingly noted that this was "off topic" and that the company needs to stay focused on its "primary" goal of building electric cars. And even if Tesla wanted to build these electric aircraft, Musk said the energy density of batteries "is not yet ideal for aircraft."
But the CEO didn't entirely say Tesla wouldn't consider building an electric aircraft at some point in the future: "I mean, it's not out of question that Tesla would do electric aircraft in the future. Our goal is to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport."
Tesla Energy may approach Tesla vehicle sales
Long-term, Tesla Energy revenue could be "roughly similar" to revenue derived from vehicles, Musk said during the annual shareholder meeting. But Musk was sure to say this forecast is "highly speculative" and has a "high degree of uncertainty."
Currently, Tesla's energy business, which sells energy storage products, is basically immaterial to the company's results.
But sales are growing fast. The company said in its first-quarter report that the business, which is accounted for in its "services and other" revenue segment, "posted strong growth." Further, Tesla noted that it delivered 2,500 Powerwalls and nearly 100 Powerpacks during the quarter.
If you're either a Tesla shareholder or are interested in investing in the stock, both Recode's interview with Elon Musk and the company's annual shareholder meeting are worth listening to from beginning to end. These topics only touch the surface of what was covered.