Apr 24, 2024 - Technology

Tesla stops the bleeding — but not the questions

Photo illustration of Elon Musk holding two lightning bolts up in the air like Zeus

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

By lowering the bar on its first quarter results, Tesla has managed to reverse waning investor confidence — for now — even as specifics about its future product lineup remain lacking.

Why it matters: The wider electric vehicle transition is intertwined with Tesla, the world's largest seller of battery-powered cars.

  • And Tesla, as CEO Elon Musk never stops emphasizing, is all in on autonomous vehicle tech and AI.

Driving the news: The stock, which has tumbled all year, is up 11% in post-market trading after Tesla announced plans to accelerate new model launches — including a cheaper car.

Yes, but: Tesla first quarter profits dropped 55% from the same period a year earlier.

  • The bad quarter was expected after Tesla revealed a delivery slump weeks ago, so here's the news and vibes from Tuesday's earnings report and analyst call:

State of play: A cheaper model is still happening — apparently. The earnings deck says it's among the products arriving before the second half of 2025.

  • But Musk did not repeat plans for a $25,000 model, or offer a price point.
  • Musk insisted Tesla remains his priority. His focus on X and other ventures has been among investor concerns.
  • "Tesla constitutes the majority of my work time," Musk said.

The polarizing multibillionaire entrepreneur really wanted to discuss autonomy and AI. Musk wants Tesla to be viewed as a cutting-edge tech company.

  • "We should be thought of as an AI robotics company." Valuing Tesla as an automaker is "fundamentally" the "wrong framework."
  • Q1 was an aberration, Musk insisted. He talked up specific logistical problems that hurt deliveries.
  • "I think we will have higher sales this year than last year."

Inside the room: Look for more energy storage growth from the company. Margins in Tesla's energy business have reached nearly 25%, CFO Vaibhav Taneja said.

  • He expects the division to grow at least 75% this year, and will "begin contributing significantly to our overall profitability."

What's next: All eyes are on Q2 deliveries — and then the promised Aug. 8 robotaxi reveal.

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