Elon Musk: Tesla Bot Optimus is The Year’s ‘Most Important Product Development’

London:  View from the street  of modern Tesla Motors showroom with multiple luxury Tesla cars inside at sunset in central London.
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Elon Musk, whose Tesla company reported fourth-quarter earnings beating expectations on Thursday, Jan. 26, said that the humanoid robot the company is developing will be the most important product this year.

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During an investor call, Musk said that “in terms of priority of products, I think actually the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot.”

“This, I think, has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time. If you think about the economy, it is — the foundation of the economy is labor. Capital equipment is distilled labor. So, what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about. So, very important,” he said according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the call.

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The Tesla Bot, first revealed in August during Tesla AI Day, is a 5-foot-8-inch, 125-pound robot that can deadlift 150 pounds and carry 45 pounds, according to a presentation.

During the investor call, Musk said that the first use of Tesla Bots would be in Tesla factories.

“The first use of the Tesla Bots, Optimus, the Optimus name seems to be sticking at least internally, Optimus Subprime. Like if we can’t find a use for it, then we shouldn’t expect that others would. So, the first use of the Optimus robots would be, at Tesla, like moving parts around the factory or something like that,” Musk said.

For its fourth-quarter earnings, Tesla’s total revenue grew 65% year over year to $17.7 billion, driven by growth in vehicle deliveries and in other parts of the business, while automotive revenue totaled $15.97 billion, up 71%, according to a shareholder deck.

Dan Ives, Wedbush Securities analyst, said that total revenues of $17.7 billion beat the Street’s estimate of $17.1 billion, while earnings per share (EPS)  of $2.54 “handily” beat the Street’s $2.36 estimate., according to a note sent to GOBankingRates.

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“Taking a step back, with the chip shortage still a major overhang on the auto space and logistical issues globally, these delivery numbers combined with this “impressive earnings beat” speaks to an EV demand trajectory that looks quite robust for Tesla with clear momentum heading into 2022,” Ives wrote.

In terms of its outlook, Tesla said it plans to grow its manufacturing capacity as quickly as possible.

“Over a multi-year horizon, we expect to achieve 50% average annual growth in vehicle deliveries. The rate of growth will depend on our equipment capacity, operational efficiency and the capacity and stability of the supply chain. Our own factories have been running below capacity for several quarters as the supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through 2022. We have sufficient liquidity to fund our product roadmap, long-term capacity expansion plans and other expenses,” the company said in the shareholder deck.

Ives said Wedbush Securities is maintaining its “Outperform” rating and a $1,400 price target.

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“The narrative and fundamental story for Tesla is more bullish this morning after the call/quarter than 24 hours ago. The Austin production news and 4680 update are potential “game changers” to the Tesla story, especially in this supply-constrained backdrop. In a nutshell, Tesla is extending their lead in the EV arms race and once Austin and Berlin are fully ramped over the coming months the expanded production capacity will be a linchpin to meeting the growing Tesla demand trajectory in 2022 and beyond,” according to Ives.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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