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Tesla Prepares Investors For Its Gap Year

The company is trying to figure out what to do next.

A Tesla.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

2023 was the year Tesla decided it would sell a lot of cars, even if it meant lowering prices. This year, however, Tesla may see “notably slower” growth, the company warned Wednesday in an investor update.

Tesla argued it was “between two major growth waves.” The first saw the rise of the Model 3 and Model Y, its more moderately priced sedan and SUV which together made up over 95 percent of its total unit sales in 2023. “The next one we believe will be initiated by the global expansion of the next-generation vehicle platform,” the company said, likely referencing its rumored “Redwood” vehicle that Reuters reported the company wants to start producing in the middle of next year.

The Model Y, Tesla said, is “the best-selling vehicle, of any kind, globally” following its 1.2 million deliveries in 2023. “For a long time, many doubted the viability of EVs. Today, the best-selling vehicle on the planet is an EV,” Tesla’s investor update said.

The company also flagged that the continuing rollout of the Cybertruck, which launched late last year, weighed on its profits. But the biggest change for the company was the pursuit of lower prices. The company’s $25.2 billion of revenues in the fourth quarter was due to “growth in vehicle deliveries” — selling more cars — albeit at lower average prices. So while revenue grew, it only grew 3% from a year ago.

Whether the electric vehicle sector as a whole is slowing is a matter of some debate. But Tesla is clearly trying to figure out what to do next, after successfully building up its business from near-bankruptcy and selling 1.8 million cars per year. Before the Cybertruck launch, it hadn’t refreshed its lineup in years and did not provide a specific figure for how many vehicles it expects to sell in 2024. Historically its deliveries have risen around 50% a year, although it “only” sold 38% more cars in 2023 than 2022.

Profits tell a similar story to its revenue: Tesla said that reduced prices weighed on its profitability, as did increased spending on artificial intelligence, especially its self-driving technology. It also flagged that its battery business contributed to its overall profits.

The company’s earnings per share of 71 cents and its revenue of $25.2 billion were slightly short of Wall Street estimates, according to Bloomberg.

Tesla shares have been flagging this year, down 16 percent from the end of last year and falling again in after-hours trading following the release of its earnings report. The tech-heavy Nasdaq as a whole is up around 5% this year.

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Matthew Zeitlin

Matthew is a correspondent at Heatmap. Previously he was an economics reporter at Grid, where he covered macroeconomics and energy, and a business reporter at BuzzFeed News, where he covered finance. He has written for The New York Times, the Guardian, Barron's, and New York Magazine. Read More

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Sparks

Coal’s Slowdown Is Slowing Down

Rising electricity demand puts reliability back on the table.

Pollution.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The United States has been able to drive its greenhouse gas emissions to their lowest level since the early 1990s largely by reducing the amount of energy on the grid generated by coal to a vast extent. In 2005, by far the predominant source of U.S. electricity, making up some 2.2 million gigawatt-hours of the country’s 4.3 million GWh total energy consumption, according to the International Energy Agency. In 2022, by contrast, coal generation was down to 900,000 GWh out of 4.5 million GWh generated. As a result, “U.S. emissions are 15.8% lower than 2005 levels, while power emissions are 40% lower than 2005 levels,” according to BloombergNEF and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

But the steady retirement of coal plants may be slowing down. Only 2.3 GW of coal generating capacity are set to be shut down so far in 2024, according to the Energy Information Administration. While in 2025, that number is expect to jump up to 10.9 GW, the combined 13.2 GW of retired capacity pales in comparison of the more than 22 GW retired in the past two years, according to EIA figures. Over the past decade, coal retirements have averaged about 10 GW a year, with actual retirements often outpacing forecasts.

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Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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