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The logo marks the showroom and service center for the US automotive and energy company Tesla in Amsterdam on October 23, 2019.— AFP

NEW YORK: Elon Musk presented a heady vision Wednesday to turbocharge Tesla’s growth at an investor day filled with ambitious targets but short on details sought by Wall Street.

Reviewing the company’s quickly expanding electric vehicle (EV) production, Musk and a team of executives promised more outsized growth through streamlined manufacturing processes, smart design and a relentless focus on costs.

“There is a clear path to a fully sustainable Earth with abundance,” Musk said early in the presentation, at which the company set annual production of 20 million vehicles as an eventual aspiration.

But shares fell throughout the event as Musk and his team avoided specifics on what the next generation of vehicles would look like, or when they might be ready.

“Long on aspiration, short on detail,” Gary Black of the investment advisor organization Future Fund said on Twitter.

“Lot of discussion on production and engineering but didn’t address demand side how to get from 1.8M (deliveries) this year to 20M (delivery) target by 2030.”

The only major new announcement of note was Musk’s confirmation of plans to build a new electric car factory the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

“We’re excited to announce that we’re going to be building a new Giga Factory in Mexico,” Musk said.

“It’s simply about expanding our total global output,” said Musk, who emphasized expansion plans for already-built factories such as California and Shanghai.

Lars Moravy, vice president for engineering at Tesla, said the Mexico factory would produce “next generation” vehicles in “the next couple of years,” but also did not provide any further clues about specific plans.

Mexican officials had announced the plant earlier Wednesday, describing an approximately $5 billion new factory in a venture touted by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Affordability conundrum

Heading into the event, Musk had called Wednesday’s gathering part of a “path to a fully sustainable energy future for Earth.”

After years of losses, Tesla has hit its stride in terms of financial performance, scoring an impressive string of earnings records as it has added factories and ramped up production.

The company has also acted as a major catalyst for a revolution in transportation, with much of the automobile sector’s innovation efforts moving away from the internal combustion engine and towards EVs.

Even with that success, Musk has fallen short on some of his outsized goals.

The company’s lowest-price vehicle, the Model 3, begins at $43,000 in the United States — too pricey for many consumers for a vehicle that had been pitched as aimed at the mass market.

Musk has also missed his own deadlines for a fully autonomous vehicle, with Tesla driver-assistance technology spurring US regulatory probes.

Analysts had hoped the mercurial billionaire would elaborate on the roadmap to a new vehicle, or perhaps unveil a design for a vehicle in the $25,000 price range.

While executives outlined fundamental changes envisioned to streamline manufacturing, Musk said he would be reluctant to retrofit current plants to incorporate improvements, not wanting to suspend output.

“Demand for our vehicles might as well be infinite,” he said. “The issue is affordability.”

Asked late in the question and answer session about timing and design for new vehicles, Musk cut off a questioner.

“We will have to decline to answer,” he said, turning to another analyst. “We will have a proper product event but we would be jumping the gun if we were to answer your question.”

Shares of Tesla fell 5.6% to $191.40 in after-hours trading.



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