Tesla earnings: Will Elon Musk address Shanghai Gigafactory shutdown in Twitter takeover bid?

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SAN FRANCISCO — The world is distracted by Elon Musk’s hostile takeover on Twitter. This may well serve the purposes of the CEO of Tesla.

Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Shanghai, where it makes some of its electric sedans and crossover SUVs have been shuttered for weeks due to China’s ‘zero covid’ policy, something the company is expected to address in its earnings call when it reports first-quarter results later Wednesday. Tesla has also been criticized for no longer including a standard charging cable with its cars, a move that hints at possible supply chain issues – and amounts to what analysts call a price hike by a backdoor.

Meanwhile, Musk has been consumed in recent weeks with a surprise push to take over the social media platform he uses for company announcements and communicate with his more than 82 million followers.

Analysts and investors have expressed concern that Musk is being overstretched — not just by the demands of Tesla, which has opened several new factories in recent weeks, but also by other responsibilities as the carmaker’s CEO. SpaceX rockets and several small companies. If he succeeds in his bid to buy Twitter, Musk will have a historic and largely unprecedented catalog of tech companies under his watch, even after wondering last year how long he could deal with demands. overflowing.

Musk and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. Musk praised Tesla’s performance despite the challenges in a tweet this month.

“It was an *unusually* challenging quarter due to supply chain disruptions and China’s zero Covid policy,” he wrote. “Exceptional work by the Tesla team and key suppliers saved the day.”

Tesla said at the time it delivered more than 300,000 vehicles during the quarter, the first of 2022, positioning its numbers as a strong result “despite ongoing supply chain challenges and plant closures.”

Analysts expect Tesla to report strong first-quarter numbers, but those will largely be a footnote as the company faces questions about how the China shutdown will affect his year. Tesla has called the Shanghai factory its main export hub, making it a critical site for the automaker which is widely credited with ushering in the era of electric vehicles.

In a decade, Tesla has grown from a niche automaker shipping tens of thousands of vehicles to more than 936,000 in 2021. Along the way, it has faced profitability issues, regulatory battles and production challenges that posed huge obstacles for Musk.

Already, Tesla buyers have been waiting in some places for more than six months to get their new vehicles, analysts said. Those wait times could persist, as China’s shutdown could cut Tesla’s production by up to 50,000 vehicles in the next quarter.

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Tesla’s production shutdown in China began in late March. Reuters reported on Tuesday that the factory had reopened, citing Chinese news agency Xinhua, although Reuters had reported a day earlier that a reopening would initially take place in limited capacity with one shift – and that workers should live there.

Musk has always been sensitive to government-mandated factory shutdowns, going wild in 2020 in response to shelter-in-place orders that necessitated the closure of Tesla’s main factory in Fremont, California. He called the measures “fascist” and urged the government to “give people back their g–g—freedom”.

Elon Musk launches into a swear-laden rant, calling quarantine measures ‘fascist’

Gene Munster, managing partner of Loup Ventures, said the closure of Tesla’s factory in China signals other potential complications.

“The most important factor is this: is China taking a different posture to work with American companies over the long term?” He asked. “The answer is: they are.”

Beyond stalled production lines, there are other indicators that Tesla is feeling the strain of the coronavirus pandemic — in the form of supply chain issues.

The company recently announced that it would not include charging cables with its new cars, causing an outcry from even Musk’s staunchest supporters. Followers of the eagle-eyed company noted that the $400 component had been removed from new car purchases and could not be purchased on Tesla’s website because it was sold out.

The cable allows owners to charge their vehicles using a simple wall outlet, although it is considered more of a stopgap as it charges slowly. Yet they can serve owners in a pinch when picking up the car for the first time, visiting relatives, or somewhere with no charging infrastructure.

Still, the component, known as a “Mobile Connector,” is considered a lesser option than installing a Wall Connector, which the company recommends. This charger is usually hardwired into the home electrical system and a charging cable extends from the base, which is mounted on the wall.

A wall charger is not included and requires an electrician to install it securely. Still, they’re relatively common among Tesla owners because they allow faster charging. Tesla also has an extensive network of over 30,000 Superchargers where owners can charge their vehicles on the go.

Musk sought to explain the change to stop including the Mobile Connector, saying, “Usage stats were super low so seemed unnecessary,” but owners weren’t happy. Later, in response to the backlash, he said the company would lower the price to $200 and make ordering more intuitive.

Munster called the omission a “stealth price hike.”

Elon Musk’s Twitter offer frustrates employees. It’s a risk for him.