Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosts ‘Cyber ​​Rodeo’ party to open Austin plant

Elon Musk speaks at the “Cyber ​​Rodeo”, a grand opening event for Tesla’s new factory in Austin, Texas.

On Thursday evening, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke at a grand opening event for the electric vehicle maker’s new $1.1 billion factory near Austin Airport in Texas. .

At the event, he talked about the scale of the new factory and teased the products that are still in development, including the Cybertruck, and a robotaxi that he promised would look quite futuristic.

“It wasn’t easy building this huge building and bringing all this equipment here,” Musk said, sporting a big black cowboy hat and thanking Tesla’s neighbors in Travis County, as well as the Tesla employees who helped build the factory.

“If you put the building on its side, it’s taller than the Burj Khalifa,” Musk said, referring to the world’s tallest skyscraper in Dubai. He joked that according to Tesla’s calculations, 194 hamsters could fit in the building.

Tesla aims to manufacture 500,000 Model Y units in a single year in Austin, the CEO revealed Thursday evening. The company also hopes to start production of its Cybertruck in Texas next year, Musk confirmed.

However, Tesla’s timelines often change. Tesla and other automakers are grappling with chip shortages and soaring raw material prices exacerbated by Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“In the past twelve months, we’ve delivered over a million cars worldwide,” Musk said. “There is still a long way to go.”

Tesla vehicles now account for more than 75% of all fully electric cars sold in the United States, according to research by AutoForecast Solutions, with fully electric vehicles accounting for approximately 4% of all new vehicle sales in the domestic market. .

Musk also announced plans to expand its experimental driver assistance program to a wider user base.

“We’re aiming to move into a broad beta for nearly all fully self-driving customers in North America this year,” Musk said. The company doesn’t make self-driving cars, but sells a premium driver assistance package it calls Full Self-Driving. Owners who have the premium option can test new unfinished features on public roads through Tesla’s FSD Beta program. Currently, the program is limited to select Tesla customers and employees.

Tesla celebrated its new vehicle and battery plant in Austin, Texas with a “Cyber ​​Rodeo” event on April 7, 2022.

Tesla built its Austin vehicle assembly plant in about two years from scratch. Its first American car plant in Fremont, California was jointly owned by GM and Toyota before Tesla adapted it to build its Model S sedan and Model X SUVs, its first mass-produced vehicles, and later its Model 3 and Model Y more affordable. .

The Fremont plant is still in operation today, but Tesla aims to increase production of its Model Y electric vehicles and batteries in Austin, and to produce its unusual trapezoidal pickup, the Cybertruck, in Texas for customers in North America.

Sam Fioriani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, told CNBC the new plant was much needed.

With new products on the way, they need more factory space,” he said. He thinks Tesla’s Austin plant, since it was recently designed to manufacture only Tesla products, should help the company improve the quality of its cars and reduce manufacturing costs. .

“They’ve built about a couple million vehicles so far, which means they should have figured out what works and what doesn’t at this point. They should be able to improve on the positives,” said Fiorani said.

Musk said late Thursday that Model Y vehicles produced in Texas feature what’s called a “structural pack,” meaning the cars’ high-voltage battery cells support the vehicle’s charge.

Prior to the Texas event, Tesla had held a grand opening and started commercial production at another new factory in Brandenburg, Germany.

The company’s Shanghai plant, which started vehicle production in late 2019, was closed for days due to covid health restrictions in the region.

Earlier this week, Elon Musk sent Twitter’s share price skyrocketing after financial filings and Twitter revealed he had taken a roughly 9% stake in the social media company and would serve on it as a chairman. board of directors.

Musk built the Tesla brand on social media, especially Twitter, and non-traditional marketing events like the “Cyber ​​Rodeo.” However, he did not discuss his plans for Twitter at the company party on Thursday.