There were two major product reveals that investors were waiting to see this month: Apple’s (AAPL) next set of iPhones, and Tesla’s (TSLA) semi truck. Earlier this week, Apple launched its phones, and we were waiting for a date on Tesla’s reveal based on CEO Elon Musk’s tweet below. Well, we now have a date on the semi truck’s reveal, and it has become the latest delay for a company that continues to have trouble meeting timelines.
Late on Wednesday, Musk revealed that the semi truck will be unveiled on October 26th, which is a month later than originally planned. Those that have followed the company should not be surprised because Musk has teased many dates for product/service launches that have turned out to be wildly inaccurate. The Model X and Model 3 launches were behind his original schedule, and we’ve seen delays from non-vehicle items as well.
The Tesla naysayers will come out and reference the launch date being so close to Q3 earnings, detailing how Musk will likely be trying to change the narrative from what’s expected to be the largest quarterly loss in the company’s history. Investors are waiting to see how bad margins fare considering a number of Model S/X price cuts this quarter. Additionally, Musk may have tweeted this out Wednesday evening to shift the talk from the day’s news that another key executive left the company, this time the VP of Business Development that had been with Tesla for more than 11 years.
The semi-truck isn’t going into production in mass quantities anytime soon, so nobody is really expecting it to contribute to overall results in the short term. However, I was thinking that Tesla could start taking deposits on the new product as soon as it was unveiled, which would have meant September, or Q3. I definitely thought that if Model 3 deposits were starting to shrink, we would see this happen, because Tesla has seen its customer deposits balance shrink for three straight quarters, seen below. If we get another decline, there is going to be a lot of pressure on management to provide an updated Model 3 number on the conference call.
(Source: Tesla quarterly investor letters)
While the delay of the semi-truck isn’t likely to have a major impact on the stock in the short term, it is another knock against Elon Musk and his glorious ambitions. This isn’t even the first major issue/delay this year, because the solar roof installations that were supposed to start going to customers in June are only now about to start, according to the company’s website. Additionally, while Tesla was planning on adding more than 5,000 superchargers to its network this year, the company has just in the past week or so hit the 1,500 mark. I doubt we’ll see 3,500 in the next 3.5 months or so. In the end, Tesla announced another delay, but is anyone really surprised at this point? It’s unfortunate that Elon Musk continues to receive millions in stock options that dilute investors while his performance only worsens.
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