Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) unveiled its new Plaid Model S last night and rolled out deliveries to those who have been waiting patiently to take delivery of the “Refreshed” version of the company’s flagship sedan. While there were several takeaways from the event that took place at Tesla’s Fremont Factory, Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch indicated that his biggest idea from the delivery event was Tesla’s donning of a new, fully autonomous era, and the company is prepping itself, along with its owners, for a future that requires little to no intervention from the driver.
Rusch, who is one of Tesla’s biggest bulls on Wall Street with a massive $1,080 price target, appeared on CNBC’S Squawk Box earlier today to talk about the event and what the major takeaways are. While many automotive enthusiasts, analysts, and spectators were more focused on the lightning-fast performance and 390-mile range of the Model S Plaid, Rusch took away Tesla’s installation of several new features that are evidently preparing drivers to become passengers. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving suite has made tremendous improvements ever since the company rolled out the FSD Beta program in October 2020. While the Beta program features a small group of members, Tesla eventually plans to roll out a more robust version of FSD to owners everywhere. The question is: What will drivers do when they’re not required to pay attention to road conditions at all times?
This is a question Tesla has thought long and hard about, and the evidence of that lies within the software capabilities of the new Model S Plaid. It was revealed several weeks ago that Tesla would be installing AMD processors and GPSs in the Model S and X, giving the two vehicles “PS5 level entertainment computing power,” according to CEO Elon Musk. Musk hinted toward new gamification features in the past. Still, it really came down to the company’s ability to provide robust and well-rounded entertainment and infotainment systems to drivers and passengers. After all, if you’re not going to be driving the vehicle, you’re going to need something to do.
Effectively, this is what catalyzed Rusch’s idea that Tesla is preparing to bring in self-driving cars. While speaking to Squawk Box during the interview this morning, Rusch detailed Tesla’s event last night, focusing on the idea that self-driving, and not blistering performance, is what the event was really the essence of the event.
Rusch said that Tesla’s domination as the most-savvy tech company in terms of powertrain and product design in the automotive sector is important, and that was accomplished last night with the event. However, Rusch maintains that his price target is really based on the company’s ability to deliver autonomous vehicles, and the event proved to him that Tesla is moving in that direction.
“What we saw last night was that they’re preparing for full autonomy in terms of the user experience within the vehicle,” Rusch said. “And, that’s important to see them migrating towards that full autonomous experience inside the car. Between the backseats, the display, and some of the other features within the display. This is preparing folks to not really have their hands on the wheel,” Rusch said.
"What we saw last night was that they're preparing for full autonomy in terms of the user experience within the vehicle. That's important," says Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch on @Tesla's Model S Plaid $TSLA pic.twitter.com/A6DNgmIVLu
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) June 11, 2021
Rusch holds an incredible #6 rating on TipRanks out of 7,547 analysts. His price target on TSLA stands at $1,080, and Rusch has a “Buy” rating on the automaker’s stock.