Yesterday, Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) shareholders gathered for an annual update on the company's progress and plans. While investors are undoubtedly grateful for the stock's impressive 100%-plus climb in the past 12 months, the market's newfound faith in the company means that the pressure is on for this U.S. Cinderalla story.
While the majority of the comments from Tesla CEO Elon Musk during the meeting were nothing new, there were a few tidbits that provided revealing details about Tesla's plans. Here are the three most important takeaways investors need to know.
1. The Model X is better than it looks
What is the Model X? It's the company's next big bet. Musk said in late 2013 that its Model X will sell at a price slightly higher than the Model S, or a "low single-digit percentage" boost in price compared to the Model S. That could put the starting price around $74,000.
The Model X offers "the best of an SUV with the benefits of a minivan, as only an electric car can," Tesla's website says.
One of the most intriguing comments in the shareholder meeting surrounded the Model X. The company has delayed the Model X delivery several times now, but for good reason, Musk says.
I should say that the production version of the Model X actually looks different from this. It looks better. ... At Tesla, whenever we show a car as a demonstration item, the production car will always be better than what people saw.
Musk goes on to explain that making the Model X production version better enough to "blow people away" hasn't been easy, and that's why it is taking the company longer.
But the latest update on Tesla's timeline for the Model X the company outlined in its first quarter hasn't changed. The company still plans to begin volume production in the second quarter of 2015.
2. Musk may not be CEO after another five years
His goal is ultimately to at least stick around until the company gets to high-volume production of its third-generation car, Musk told shareholders.
Based on comments from the meeting, Tesla is now aiming for a late 2016 launch of its more affordable model. And slides from a presentation on Tesla's Gigafacgtory plans indicate that the electric-car maker plans to "volume ramp" the third-gen car in 2017. By 2020, Tesla expects to be selling as many as 500,000 vehicles per year.
He undoubtedly wants to see these enormous ambitions through. "I will stay four or five years, then it's TBD after that," Musk explained.
3. The Gigafactory is really happening
If there was still any doubt in the market about Tesla's Gigafactory actually happening, Musk should have eased concerns on Tuesday. Not only does Tesla still plan to break ground in the next month or two, but Tesla is still panning on beginning construction in three different locations to avoid construction delays. Toward the end of the year, Tesla will likely choose the winning site.
Further, Musk says Panasonic is now convinced the company can cut total battery pack costs by 30% or more with the help of the Gigafactory.
One of the biggest concerns for Tesla investors right now is execution. With the company attempting to do so many things at such profound scales in such a short period of time, current shareholders are taking on the risk of slip-ups in execution on a crucial timetable. Increasing the pressure for investors, most of these big plans are already priced into the stock.
Fortunately, Tesla's annual update served as an optimistic pulse check on Musk's wild ambitions. The Model X is looking great and the Gigafactory is on schedule. Even more, Musk plans to stick around until his wild vision comes to fruition.