Tesla’s Robotaxi unveiling event sets the tone for 2030 and beyond: Morgan Stanley

Tesla CEO Elon Musk confirmed the automaker would bring its Robotaxi to light during an unveiling event on August 8.

The influence of the vehicle and the prospect of fully autonomous technology is much bigger than a single-day event, and Morgan Stanley wrote in a new note to investors that the unveiling could set the tone for beyond 2030.

“We first began writing about the investment considerations of a potential Tesla robotaxi business since we began modeling ‘Tesla Mobility’ back in 2015 when Tesla’s market cap was barely $30bn,” Adam Jonas, lead analyst for Morgan Stanley, wrote. “We had (mistakenly) expected the company to formally launch a highly automated ride-share service back in 2018. Nearly a decade later, we’re still waiting. August 8th will offer some important clues.”

Tesla has fended off bearish tones for the past year, especially as the stock has taken hits due to an increased number of competitors and a decreasing market share in crucial markets like China.

The automaker also stated that its growth this year would lag due to the development of the next-generation platform, which includes the Robotaxi and the rumored $25,000 vehicle.

Since then, Tesla has reported less-than-expected delivery and production figures for Q1, and fended off false reports that it had ditched the $25,000 vehicle in China.

However, in a long-term perspective, these issues are simply speed bumps in what is a long and winding road to what could potentially be the most groundbreaking product in the last 100 years.

Morgan Stanley believes that “Tesla has many attributes that can make it a formidable player (if not an outright winner) in the race to autonomy” and that it believes “the more material commercial scaling of the business would be well beyond 2030.”

The Five Pillars for Tesla’s Robotaxi Unveiling

Morgan Stanley lists five main pillars for the August 8th unveiling of the Robotaxi:

  1. Recognition that making and selling EVs in a traditional consumer model may not create lasting economic value
      1. While many companies are selling cars, few are advancing the entire industry. Tesla needs to show how it will lead the way on August 8.
  2. Recruiting Exercise
      1. Other Tesla events have been a great way to attract the brightest and smartest talent to the company. This could be the latest edition of Tesla’s recruiting efforts.
  3. Path to commercialization of true robotaxis (no steering wheels) at scale will be both long-dated and volatile
      1. There are a lot of bumps in the road that will come with this, including legal, regulatory, moral, and ethical factors. Morgan Stanley is bullish on the long-term growth of L4/L5 autonomy, but in the short-term, expect some growing pains.
  4. Emblematic of bigger shift Tesla’s business model to real-world/hard-tech AI and robotics
      1. This will shift Tesla’s business model from less auto and more AI and software-based.
  5. August 8th may reignite the conversation around whether Tesla is worth inclusion in an AI conversation
      1. Tesla can capture value with a notable and strong event. However, some may still be concerned about its reliance on NVIDIA.

Morgan Stanley still holds the same $310 price target and an ‘Overweight’ rating on the stock.

Disclosure: Joey Klender owns Tesla stock.

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Joey Klender: Joey has been a journalist covering electric mobility at TESLARATI since August 2019. In his time at TESLARATI, Joey has broken several big stories, including the first images of the Tesla Model S Plaid, the imminent release of the 4680 Model Y through EPA certification, and several expansions to the Lucid AMP-1 factory in Arizona, to name a few. His stories have been featured in several publications, including Yahoo! Finance, Fox News, CNET, and Seeking Alpha. In his spare time, Joey is playing golf, watching MMA, or cheering on any of his favorite sports teams, including the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Miami Heat, Washington Capitals, and Penn State Nittany Lions. You can get in touch with joey at joey@teslarati.com. He is also on Twitter @KlenderJoey.
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