Tesla Shareholders Assembly 2023

Tesla’s corporate headquarters is seen in an aerial photograph on January 3, 2023 in Travis County, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Tuesday. He predicted that the economy would recover after 12 months and promised that the company would start shipping production cybertrucks later this year.

Addressing the long delays with the boxy electric pickup, Musk lamented some of the manufacturing challenges and said, “Sorry for the delay. We’ll finally start mass delivery of the Cybertrucks later this year.” He said it’s the vehicle he drives every day.

Musk also said that he expects the economic environment to remain difficult over the next 12 months and that many companies will go bankrupt. But after that, he believes, the economy will recover and Tesla will be well positioned.

He also predicted that the Tesla Model Y would be “the best-selling car in the world this year.”

During the question-and-answer session, an attendee dressed like a robot wearing a cowboy hat asked Musk if Tesla would build an RV or a camper van. Musk said the company has no plans to build an RV at this time, but the upcoming Cybertruck could be converted into an RV or RV.

When asked about his $44 billion acquisition of social media service Twitter, Musk said it was a “short-term distraction” and that he would have to undergo “major open-heart surgery” to survive . He then remarked that “We are delighted that former NBC Universal advertising director Linda Yaccarino is joining the company as its new CEO.”

Straubel gets on board, new powertrain is advertised

Earlier, shareholders voted to add former Tesla CTO JB Straubel, who is now CEO of Redwood Materials, to the automaker’s board. Redwood Materials recycles e-waste and batteries and last year struck a multi-billion dollar deal with Tesla supplier Panasonic.

Following the shareholder vote, CEO Elon Musk opened his portion of the meeting by promising to conduct a third-party audit of Tesla’s cobalt supply chain to ensure that none of Tesla’s cobalt suppliers use child labor.

Cobalt is a key ingredient in the manufacture of batteries used in Tesla’s electric cars and backup battery packs used in homes and utility-scale energy projects. “Even for the small amount of cobalt that we supply, we will ensure that no child labor is exploited for six weeks until Sunday,” Musk said to the cheers of the investors present in person.

Musk also announced that Tesla plans to produce a new type of power unit that he says will require less silicon carbide than previous powertrains and no rare earth elements. He added that Tesla will also move to a new low-voltage architecture in its cars, which should use less copper.

Later in his presentation, Musk boasted about the company’s energy storage business, saying growth in “big battery” sales is outpacing growth in the company’s core automotive segment.

Concerns about distraction

Since the electric vehicle maker’s last annual meeting in August 2022, Tesla’s largest retail shareholder Leo Koguan has slammed Musk for selling his multibillion-dollar Tesla holdings in exchange for a $44 billion takeover of social media company Twitter finance.

Koguan, a billionaire and founder of IT services company SHI International, urged the company’s board to “deliver shock therapy to revive the share price” through a share buyback late last year.

Some institutional Tesla investors have warned Musk that he is too distracted in his new role as Twitter CEO to perform optimally at the helm of Tesla, but Musk said Tuesday that he expects to have much less time going forward spend on Twitter than so far last six months. They have also criticized the Tesla board, led by Chairwoman Robyn Denholm, for failing to rein it in and protect shareholder interests.

Tesla shares closed at $228.52 on October 28, 2022 after Musk officially took over Twitter. They closed at $166.52 on May 16, 2023, when the session started.

At Tesla’s 2022 annual meeting, Musk forecast an 18-month recession, hinted at the possibility of share buybacks, and told investors the electric-vehicle business is targeting annual production of 20 million vehicles by 2030, which he says will require a dozen factories In total, each company produces 1.5 to 2 million units per year.

This is an evolving story. Please check back for updates.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of CNBC.

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