May 16 – Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk warned on Tuesday that the electric-vehicle maker was not immune to the global economy, which he said will be difficult for the next 12 months.
At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas, Musk played down market rumors that he may step down as CEO of Tesla, touched upon two new mass-market models it is developing, and reaffirmed that deliveries of its long-delayed Cybertruck pickup would start this year.
In a sign of tough times even for Tesla, the market leader in electric cars, Musk said the company would try to advertise its vehicles, something it has not done before. “We’ll try out a little advertising and see how it goes,” said Musk, who is also CEO of Twitter.
“Tesla is not immune to the global economic environment. I expect things to be, just at a macro economic level, difficult for at least the next 12 months,” said the billionaire, dressed casually in a black T-shirt and trousers.
Tesla missed its margin target in the first quarter after it aggressively cut vehicle prices in the face of a slowing economy and rising competition.
Not Stepping Down
At the meeting, shareholders voted to appoint the company’s co-founder and former chief technology officer, JB Straubel, to the board. Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis had urged investors to vote against Straubel’s appointment, citing worries about his independence.
Straubel, who is CEO of battery recycling and materials company Redwood Materials, is considered a potential successor to Musk, according to Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management.
Investors expressed frustration that the board failed to make sure that Musk is focused on Tesla after he bought social media platform Twitter for $44 billion in October.
“There was a short-term distraction because I had to do major open-heart surgery on Twitter to ensure the company’s survival,” Musk said on Tuesday. Last week he announced that NBCUniversal’s former advertising head, Linda Yaccarino, will succeed him as Twitter CEO and that he will focus on products and technology at the company.