4 Must-See Takeaways From Tesla Inc.'s Annual Shareholder Meeting

Elon Musk talks Tesla's retail-store expansion, big plans for its Gigafactory, Model Y, and more.

Daniel Sparks
Daniel Sparks
Jun 8, 2017 at 6:06PM

Shares of Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) have been rising at an incredible rate recently, up about 91% in the past six months. It's a great time, therefore, to hear from Tesla's CEO at the company's annual shareholder meeting. Among other topics this week, Elon Musk explained Tesla's retail-store expansion plans and talked about its vision for the Gigafactory.

Here's a look at some of the key takeaways from Tesla's annual meeting.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk. Image source: Tesla.

Expect more Tesla stores

Tesla is already well-known for its unconventional retail model, selling vehicles directly to customers and bypassing dealerships. Tesla sets up its stores in high-foot-traffic areas, such as indoor and outdoor malls, and uses them both to sell vehicles and to educate consumers about electric vehicles. But Tesla is far from complete in expanding its retail stores, Musk indicated.

"We're going to make a significant increase in the number of retail stores we have around the world," Musk said. "We think we've barely touched the surface on what's possible on the retail side." He went on to say if that "if you just do a back-of-the-envelope analysis," Tesla will eventually want to have a store for every half-million people. So that's about 660 stores for the U.S., he noted. And throughout the world there would be several thousand stores. "Our plan is to keep expanding the retail-store footprint to be able to cover anyone who could buy our product."

The Gigafactory is on schedule

Musk also said the company's Gigafactory is "going quite well." The timing of Tesla's ramp-up of battery production at the factory is crucial for Tesla, as expected higher production for its July-slated, mass-market-priced Model 3 will require unprecedented battery production.

Tesla Gigafactory with Model 3 outside

Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. Image source: Author.

Beyond noting that the factory's progress is on track, Musk said its output will make all other battery production pale in comparison. "We believe it will be -- within a few years -- have a [production] capacity equal to all other lithium-ion battery factories combined -- in one building."

Importantly, Musk said the economies of scale from the Gigafactory will enable Tesla to have the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour of battery capacity while also having the most advanced battery technology. "It's obviously a great position to be in," Musk said. "I think it's a fundamental part of Tesla's strategy."

Of course, Musk reiterated that Tesla is still planning to build several Gigafactories in the near future -- and as many as 10 or 20 over the long haul. Indeed, Musk said Tesla is already giving serious consideration to three additional factories.

Tesla plans to recruit two to three new directors

Addressing some complaints from investors about Tesla's board, the company plans to add some independent directors. During the annual meeting this week, Musk said Tesla has been interviewing potential directors and currently plans to add two to three new directors "from a broad range of backgrounds and industries."

"I expect we will probably make that announcement in the next month -- or two at the most," Musk said. "But I think that some really amazing people will be joining the board."

Model Y will need a new factory

Tesla's upcoming Model Y, the next consumer electric vehicle on its product roadmap, will be produced at a new factory.

Musk explained:

The existing Gigafactory will supply the battery pack and drivetrains -- and motor and power electronics -- for the Model Y. The Model Y vehicle plant will be a new plant -- essentially a new Gigafactory. ... There's just no room at Fremont. We are bursting at the seams.

The meeting included lots of useful information for investors, including some tidbits on Tesla's upcoming products. Investors can find a full video of the meeting on Tesla's investor relations website.