Elon Musk, Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive, conducted his customary wide ranging annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday. The key highlights from the Tesla (TSLA, -2.07%) meeting included the unexpected announcement that the CFO, Deepak Ahuja would be retiring.
Ahuja, who was the initial CFO of Tesla Motors, provided the biggest surprise at the meeting with the announcement of his impending retirement. In a play on words, Ahuja said he would miss the “energy” provided by Tesla shareholders. He compared working at Tesla as being a “non-stop adrenaline rush”. Ahuja will continue in his position as CFO until a replacement is found and he also undertook to be involved in the transition process in order to ensure it would happen as smoothly as possible.
Stifel analysts said Wednesday that Ahuja’s shock announcement was certainly the biggest surprise at the meeting. Ahuja has been with Tesla from the outset and has been instrumental in assisting investors as well as analysts to understand the often complicated financial situation and lack of transparency as Tesla underwent its initial growth phase.
Meanwhile, Musk also announced an enhanced package of driver-assistance systems within the next month and also said that he was personally testing the latest auto-pilot version on a weekly basis. The company is also moving forward with its intention to offer early or beta customers the upgraded technology.
While the future Tesla Model S would have software updates to allow auto steering on highways as well as summoning capabilities which would allow the car to drive itself short distances such as from the garage to the front door, the technology for a fully driverless vehicle would only be available in the next three years.
Other information that was released at the meeting is that the Tesla Model X, Musk’s electric car offering to the world of SUV users, should be released within the next four months in line with previous announcements. Also, the standard version of the Model 3 would not have dual motors as had been expected, however an all-wheel drive would be offered as an optional upgrade.
During the meeting, Musk reaffirmed Tesla’s target of delivering 55,000 vehicles by the end of 2015 and achieving a 50% year on year rate of sales growth. Without releasing any official data, he also said the Model S was the best-selling luxury vehicle in North America during the first quarter. Stifel analysts found this data quite amazing as Tesla had achieved very little penetration in the Canadian market and had not yet launched in Mexico.
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