Tesla stock slumps as ‘Master Plan 3’ event falls flat with investors

Tesla shares fell as much as 8% in early trading Thursday as a lukewarm investor reception to Elon Musk’s “Master Plan 3” presentation added a fresh headache for the electric vehicle maker.

Musk and other executives teased a cheaper “next gen” electric vehicle during Wednesday’s “investor day” event at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Texas – but the announcement was light on details about the car’s performance specs, vehicle models or a potential release date.

Investor skepticism over the event contributed to a $50 billion plunge in Tesla’s market value Thursday. Shares of the world’s top EV maker fell to $189.60, down $13.17, in midday trading.

“I’d love to really show you what I mean and unveil the next-gen car, but you’re going to have to trust me on that until a later date,” Tesla design chief Franz von Holzhausen said, according to Bloomberg. “We’ll always be delivering exciting, compelling and desirable vehicles, as we always have.”

Elon Musk
Elon Musk provided few concrete details about Tesla’s next gen vehicles.

When pressed for more details about the next-gen vehicle, Musk said Tesla would eventually hold a “proper sort of product event” about the highly anticipated launch.

The stock plunge occurred even as Tesla reiterated a plan to annually manufacture 20 million vehicles by 2030.

Executives also confirmed plans to build a new production plan in Monterrey, Mexico and spoke extensively about the company’s other initiatives, including a global shift toward sustainable energy and advances in artificial intelligence technology.

The Tesla event “was heavy on discussion relative to clean energy transition and on the company’s approach to designing and developing vehicles generally, but short on specifics or measurable metrics to track its progress,” JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman said in a client note.

Tesla also addressed concerns about its business in China and whether its key Shanghai production plant could be impacted by rising friction between the US and Beijing.

Elon Musk
Investors had a lukewarm reaction to Tesla’s investor day event.

Earlier this week, Musk was reprimanded by the Global Times, a state-run media outlet that serves as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.

The Tesla boss had tweeted about the US Energy Department’s determination that a lab leak in China was the mostly likely explanation for the COVID-19 pandemic’s origins.

The Global Times warned Musk that he risked “breaking the pot of China” – a phrase equivalent to “biting the hand that feeds you” – if he continued to discuss the theory, CNBC reported.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk recently faced pushback from China for tweeting about the COVID-19 lab leak theory.

Tom Zhu, Tesla’s head of global production, downplayed the risk posed by the carmaker’s potentially fraught relations with China.

“We created a lot of jobs with the factory and our suppliers, and contribute a lot to the local community,” Zhu said at the investor day event.

“As long as we are needed in the country, I don’t see there’s much of the risk,” Zhu added.