Tesla doesn’t have a PR team, and even on the off chance that the company responds to a media outlet, its responses tend to be short and succinct. This came to a head last month when rumors about a production shutdown in Giga Shanghai during December’s last week due to weakening demand were reported by several mainstream news media outlets. In response to the wave of reports, Tesla China simply commented that the reports were “untrue.”
As it turned out, what Tesla China really meant was that the reports were not entirely accurate. Giga Shanghai was indeed pausing its production in the last week of December, but it would be due to maintenance for the plant’s lines, not a demand issue. While one could argue that Tesla China’s response could have been better — and it definitely could have been better — it was already far more of a response than what Tesla typically puts out.
Tesla China Exec Interview
In the United States, Tesla usually doesn’t even issue official responses. Elon Musk posts about Tesla frequently and he clarifies issues on Twitter, but outside of that, there is very little that the company does to respond to rumors or reports. This was why it was quite a welcome development when Tesla VP Grace Tao had an interview with Chinese media. In it, she discussed a number of pertinent topics, such as Tesla’s vehicle pricing strategy in China, as well as some rumors surrounding the company.
Rumors about Tesla are abounding, and among the most notable are arguably the “Model 2,” the vehicle believed to be the cheaper successor to the Model 3 and Model Y; the “Pi Phone,” a mobile phone that’s been spamming a number of YouTube channels for some time now; and the promotion of Tesla China’s Tom Zhu as “second-in-command” in the company. Grace Tao’s response was quick and direct, and she noted that the “rumors are not true.”
Now, if you could see a parallel between the denial that the VP recently gave to Tesla China’s response to last month’s reports of Giga Shanghai’s shutdown, you are not alone. With this in mind — and if one could speculate to a point — then perhaps Tao’s denial could also be read as the rumors not being entirely accurate. Emphasis on the “entirely.”
Model 2, Mobile Phone, and Tom Zhu
Tesla, for one, has been working on a smaller vehicle platform for some time now. Elon Musk has been pretty dismissive of the vehicle for some time, favoring a dedicated, futuristic Robotaxi with no steering wheels instead, but he has shared some details about the upcoming car in the past. Musk has, for example, noted that Tesla’s affordable car would exceed the Model 3 and Model Y’s production output. Its platform would also be roughly the cost of the Model 3 and Model Y’s. It’s undeniable that Tesla is working on an affordable car, so the VP’s recent denial can also simply mean that the “not true” part of the rumor was the speculated name of the EV, “Model 2.”
As for the Tesla “Pi Phone,” Elon Musk has noted in the past that he is not closed to the idea of making a mobile phone if Apple or Google end up blocking Twitter, but that’s about it. Unlike what’s suggested in spam videos on YouTube, the “Tesla Phone” is simply a fun idea, nothing more. Tom Zhu’s promotion has not been confirmed by Tesla, but signs are pointing to the executive taking a larger role in the company. That being said, Zhu’s position does not necessarily have to be “second-in-command” to Elon Musk. His position, if speculations do prove accurate, could simply be created to accurately describe his larger responsibilities in the company.
Tesla VP Grace Tao’s interview with local Chinese media can be viewed here.