UPDATE, June 9, 7:45 p.m. EDT: Click here to read what happened at Tesla Motors' fifth annual shareholder meeting.
Original story begins here:
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is expected Tuesday to outline his progress in turning the boutique maker of toys for the rich into a mainstream producer of electric cars for the masses. At the company’s fifth annual shareholder meeting in Mountain View, California, he’ll also receive an earful from a pair of earth-friendly shareholders who believe the automaker should get rid of leather interior options.
Investors and the general public can listen to Musk’s presentation via live webcast, beginning at 2 p.m. PDT.
As in years past, the billionaire engineer and entrepreneur will field mostly softball questions from a largely supportive audience, but shareholders and others will pay close attention to anything Musk says about the upcoming Model X SUV, progress on Tesla’s energy storage business and any indication of when the world is likely to get its first glimpse of the $35,000 Model 3 due in 2017. Shareholders are also keen to hear about the latest developments in the building of the company's massive battery factory near Reno, Nevada.
“They’ll probably talk about how sales are looking and the timing of new model launches,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at technology research firm Gartner Inc. “Any progress on the gigafactory would be welcomed.”
Tesla has an important July-September quarter ahead of it. The company will release second-quarter sales data sometime before the Fourth of July weekend, and it is scheduled to begin delivering the Model X before the end of the quarter.
"Although sentiment [about Tesla] has improved over the past three months, we still believe there is skepticism surrounding Tesla Energy, the Model X launch, and demand," Benjamin Kallo, an analyst for clean technology at Robert W. Baird & Co., wrote in a research note published Monday. "We think upcoming events will help improve sentiment.” Kallo said last week he saw no indication that demand for the Tesla Model S had peaked.
This year’s shareholder meeting will feature a proposal brought forward by Mark Peters and his wife Elizabeth Farrell Peters of Hurst, Texas, who oppose using animal products in Tesla cars. The Peterses will each get three minutes to pitch their proposal to phase out leather and replace it with the high-end synthetic fabrics offered by other luxury carmakers, such as BMW’s SensaTec and Mercedes-Benz’s MB-Tex.
“This is an elephant in the room,” of Musk’s oft-stated mission to reduce greenhouse gases, Mark Peters told International Business Times in April. (Livestock is a major emitter global warming emissions.) Tesla opposes the measure citing a need to “prioritize our efforts,” the company said in a regulatory filing announcing details of the annual meeting.
Shareholder meetings rarely produce any significant market moving revelations, largely because doing so could violate regulatory rules. But during last year’s Tesla annual meeting Musk hinted he would make a big announcement on patents just days before the company said it would allow anyone to use its patents for free “in the spirit of the open source movement.” Musk also said at last year’s meeting the Model 3 would look similar to the Model X and could come with autopilot, and the Model X door would have proximity sensors to avoid dings. Musk also predicted Tesla would sell 40,000 last year, but the company ended up falling short by more than 8,000 cars.
An important issue Musk might address is where the company plans to acquire more capital. Tesla was down to about $1.5 billion as of the end of March and will need to acquire more funding to reach its goal of selling 500,000 cars a year by 2020.
Watch Telsa’s 2014 shareholder meeting here: