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Tesla stock surges as EV maker will 'accelerate' the launch of cheaper cars

Tesla had previously said it would focus on its robotaxi product after paring back plans for a lower-cost car.

Tesla (TSLA) stock gained 12% on Wednesday, its biggest one-day gain of 2024, after the company said it would accelerate the launch of more affordable vehicles, countering reports earlier this month the company would scrap these plans.

"We have updated our future vehicle line-up to accelerate the launch of new models ahead of our previously communicated start of production in the second half of 2025," Tesla said in its first quarter shareholder release late Tuesday.

On the company's earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said the timelines for new vehicles could be in early 2025 if not later this year. Tesla declined to say when the cheap EV will debut, though Musk did say the company would talk more about these vehicles on Aug. 8, the day the robotaxi will be revealed.

"These new vehicles, including more affordable models, will utilize aspects of the next generation platform as well as aspects of our current platforms, and will be able to be produced on the same manufacturing lines as our current vehicle line-up," Tesla said in the release.

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Despite reporting a revenue and earnings miss, investors cheered the much-needed update on the EV maker's current and future prospects. Tesla stock has still lost 34% so far this year.

Tesla reported first quarter adjusted earnings per share of $0.45, below the $0.52 estimated, on revenue of $21.30 billion, which missed forecasts for $22.3 billion, according to Bloomberg data. Revenue fell 9% from a year ago, Tesla's first drop in four years.

Tesla reported $1.2 billion in operating profit in the first quarter and $1.5 billion in adjusted net income. Both numbers were short of forecasts and down more than 50% from a year ago. In terms of delivery guidance, Tesla said it still sees "notably lower volume," echoing what the company said in its Q4 earnings report.

In its shareholder letter, Tesla also showed preview images of a ridehailing feature in its app showing how a Tesla robotaxi could work.

Tesla's preview of the ride-hailing feature coming to Tesla's App.
Tesla's preview of the ride-hailing feature coming to Tesla's App. (Tesla)

Prior to Tesla's Q1 report, shares had been hit hard this year after the company reported Q4 results that disappointed, issued weak and non-specific 2024 delivery guidance, missed on Q1 deliveries, and did not refute reports of the demise of a sub-$30,000 volume EV.

The revenue drop and profitability slide follow a weaker-than-expected quarter of sales for Tesla.

In Q1, Tesla reported 386,810 global deliveries, well below estimates of 449,080, and produced 433,371 vehicles, also below estimates of 452,976. Tesla did note in the first quarter report that Cybertruck production hit 1000 units a week in April.

The difference of around 46,500 vehicles produced versus sold led to concerns of demand waning globally for Tesla vehicles, which in turn has led to round after round of price cuts. On Monday, Tesla cut prices for vehicles in the US and China, leading to weakness in the stock during the day.

Nonetheless, Tesla confirmed that the long-awaited next-generation platform would underpin a sub-$30,000 mainstream EV — dubbed the Model 2. That's a huge deal for investors, many of whom see the low-cost EV as a volume play for Tesla.

Tesla said upcoming vehicles, including the affordable models, would use aspects of the next-gen platform as well as existing platforms, allowing them to be built on the same assembly lines as current vehicles. The "purpose-built robotaxi," on the other hand, will use the revolutionary "unboxed" production line to be made, Tesla said.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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