Tesla Model S - Click above for high-res image gallery
Following the announcement that Tesla had been approved for $465 million in loans from the Department of Energy, CEO Elon Musk held a conference call. Most of what was said wasn't especially newsworthy and he didn't discuss the legal proceedings that have been going on around him and the company recently. He did however, discuss some issues relating to batteries and the Roadster.
On the battery front, Musk was pretty adamant about sticking with the current arrangement of several thousand laptop cells for the Model S. While larger format cells hold promise and Tesla is investigating them, Musk doesn't believe they have the economies of scale or energy density to make them worthwhile for the Model S. Of course with every other automaker and battery supplier going that direction, large packs will have the economies of scale before long. Musk expects to make the change for the third, higher volume, lower price car that's coming after the Model S.
The other, more worrying news was about Roadster sales, or rather the lack of them. For about a year, now Roadster sales have been stuck at about 1,300. Musk was asked what the current backlog of Roadsters was and he responded with "about 700-800." Added to the 500 delivered so far, that implies that even with new sales from Europe and Canada, cancellations are keeping pace with orders. That's going to make it awfully difficult to hit the 1,000 Roadsters-a-year target Musk talked about. Hopefully, revenues from powertrain sales like the Smart batteries will pick up the slack until the Model S arrives.