Fresh off a multi-billion share selloff to fund his $44 billion buyout of Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has found himself in another battle for his $56 billion court-rejected compensation package. With that package comes a large amount of corporate voting power—something that Musk says he needs in order to feel "comfortable" leading the company into the AI-powered future that he envisions.

And if he doesn't get it, he may be out at Tesla, or free to do AI and robot stuff away from it that would surely tank the car company's tech company-like stock price. 

Welcome back to Critical Materials, your daily roundup for EV and automotive tech. Today, we're talking about Musk's desire to control a quarter of Tesla, Nissan's pause on its next-gen EV sedans, and EV owners looking for more safety at public chargers. Let's jump in.

30%: Musk Wants 25% Control Of Tesla...Or Else?

Elon Musk at Tesla's Shareholders Meeting at Texas Gigafactory

Musk hasn't hidden that he wants more power at Tesla, especially after the multi-billion dollar share selloff to fuel his Twitter buyout in 2022. Now, the CEO has confirmed that 25% of share ownership would allow "AI & Robotics [to stay] within Tesla."

The CEO has said that Tesla isn't a car company. Instead, he insists that investors should view Tesla a tech company working to solve autonomy—or, in lesser words, an AI company.

Tesla's recent shift from designing an affordable vehicle to a fully autonomous robotaxi signals that realignment to Musk's vision. However, his focus on the projects seem to be contingent on whether or not he can regain 25% voting power within the company, or otherwise he would prefer to build AI and robotics "outside of Tesla."

"I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without having ~25% voting control," said Musk in January when his ownership stake was around 13%. "Enough to be influential, but not so much that I can’t be overturned. Unless that is the case, I would prefer to build products outside of Tesla."

In other words, you can picture Musk slowly pushing a model of a Tesla Roadster off a desk while he says, "Sure is a nice car/robotics/AI company you got here... would be a shame if something... happened to it..."

It seems that Musk is doubling-down on that threat by replying to a post on his social media platform, X, which stresses that both AI and robotics would stay within Tesla if Musk achieved 25% voting platform. Musk's response was simply a deafening "yes."

 

If Elon gets 25% voting power, Tesla is reincorporated in Texas, and compensation package is approved, then AI & Robotics stays within Tesla and the company can march on forward to become the largest company in the world.

Now, that "yes" is doing some heavy lifting here. If it wasn't for the CEO's thinly veiled public threat of pursuing opportunities outside of Tesla, this would be a non-issue. However, with Musk's court-denied $56 billion pay package hanging in limbo until the outcome of a shareholder vote is ratified, Tesla and Musk are going all-out on ensuring he gets paid.

What's odd is that Musk himself has identified both AI (necessary for Full Self-Driving) and robotics (necessary for Optimus) as critical for the company's continued success. However, the implication that the CEO isn't comfortable leading the company into those fields leave a wide net of uncertainty on the future of the company and Musk's leadership.

Musk's recent leadership actions have led to shareholders coming together to urge others to once again reject the CEO's already-rejected compensation package. But not everyone is into it. One group in particular says that Musk's other obligations are preventing him from satisfying Tesla's (and its shareholders') fiduciary interests.

“Tesla is suffering from a material governance failure which requires our urgent attention and action,” wrote a group of eight corporate shareholders in a letter on Monday.

Leo Koguan, who previously described himself as an "Elon fanboy" and is currently Tesla's largest retail shareholder, confirmed to Electrek that he will vote against the compensation proposal. Kougan cited frustration over recent company governance issues for his decision.

Could it all be a threat to influence shareholder votes? Sure. Or, it could be Musk announcing an actual exit to pursue something that interests him more than cars.

Tesla will ratify the shareholder proxy vote prior to the annual shareholder meeting on June 13th.

60%: Nissan Presses Pause On Next-Gen EV Sedans

Nissan Evo

Nissan will once again delay its upcoming pair of electric sedans as it alerts suppliers to pause all activities related to the next-generation EVs.

A new report from Automotive News outlines a stop-development memo sent to supplier by Nissan which reveals that the automaker may be re-focusing its future lineup to navigate a cooling EV market.

"Please stop all development activities related to [the electric sedans] until further notice," reads the memo obtained by Automotive News.

Nissan had previously pledged a $500 million investment into its underutilized plant in Canton, Mississippi. The idea was to launch two new electric sedans, one under the Nissan brand and the other under Infiniti, both produced in Canton. The plans were recently pushed back from 2025 to 2026, followed by two additional electric crossovers in 2027 and 2028. Now, those plans may be on hold for longer.

However, the supplier memo could reveal why Nissan is pausing production. From Automotive News:

In the memo, Nissan revealed it will expand the number of battery-powered models made in Canton—adding a fifth vehicle. According to GlobalData Automotive, that model—codenamed PZ1L—is expected to be a compact crossover. It is the third electric utility vehicle planned for the factory.

Meanwhile, Nissan will switch the EV production sequence—beginning with two midsize crossovers instead of the sedans.

Nissan's upcoming EVs will use the automaker's new "next-generation modular manufacturing" technique, which is a fancy way of saying that many of the vehicles will share a number of parts which help to simplify development, manufacturing, and production. In-turn, this will help to cut down production costs.

However, because the development activities for the sedans has been paused, the supplier theorizes that Nissan may need additional time to develop its now-modified lineup to accommodate the shared parts.

Nissan reportedly said that it would update suppliers in mid-June on a new start date. The unnamed supplier believes that it will be between six and eight months before Nissan returns with a new plan.

90%: EV Owners Want More Safety At DC Fast Chargers

Chargers vandalized in Sumner, WA

EV drivers are calling for more fast charging locations to be equipped with basic safety features, according to a new report by the Transportation Energy Institute.

Despite EV popularity growing in the U.S., hundreds of Level 2 and DC fast-charger locations are being targeted by scalpers and vandals that cut charging cables and render the chargers unusable. This vandalism can often go unnoticed by the public until someone pulls up to charge, especially as chargers are built out in remote locations that aren't built with crime prevention through environmental design in mind.

Automotive News explains:

EV drivers surveyed said they want public charging stations in visible areas that are open 24/7 and have multiple charging ports, bright lighting and security cameras. The report included responses from 500 EV drivers across the U.S. and 99 charger site hosts.

About half of the charging stations in the survey have multiple charging ports, 24/7 service and bright lighting around their chargers. About two-thirds of the stations are in highly visible areas and have security cameras.

AutoPacific product and consumer insights analyst Robby DeGraff says that building out convenience stores at charging locations could be a good idea. This bolsters Transportation Energy Institute executive director John Eichberger's note that people charging "need something to do" while they're waiting for their vehicle to juice up. In my experience, that's often already the case in many charging locations.

Many Tesla-branded chargers are built out at spots with always-open convenience stores like Sheetz or Wawa. However, that isn't always the case, as evident by the opportunistic vandalism cases escalating over the last year. And even in some of these 24x7 locations, many chargers are positioned at the back of parking lots which may not be well-lit.

Meanwhile, drivers are becoming more security-conscious at charging locations—especially as their vehicles are disabled from driving away while plugged in. This has resulted in companies like OttoSteer developing simple devices that allow NACS-equipped Teslas to quickly eject from a Supercharger in the event of an emergency.

100%: What Needs To Change At Public Charging?

Tesla V4 Superchargers in Los Gatos, CA - Los Gatos Boulevard (source: Tesla - @TeslaCharging / X)

I have to admit, I feel like I'm a bit spoiled on the East Coast of the U.S. For me, public charging makes up around 15% of my charging activity, and it's been a pretty seamless and reliable process with plenty of charging locations on Tesla's network.

Still, I've heard horror stories about wait times, chargers being placed in the middle of nowhere with little amenities nearby, or general reliability issues.

As we approach another wave of taxpayer-fueled charger rollouts in the nation, I have to ask: what should charging companies focus on when building out these new stations?

Let me know in the comments.

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