Tesla reports record losses - but boss Musk insists it is close to profitability

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 03 May 2018

Tesla posted a record loss of £523 million (Rs 4,739 crore) in the first three months of 2018 – but company chief Elon Musk insists the firm is on course to become profitable by the end of the year.

The American firm’s first-quarter loss was more than double the £243m (Rs 2,202 crore) the firm lost in the same period a year ago. Tesla generated £2.5bn (Rs 22,656 crores) in revenue between January and March – a year-on-year rise of 26% – but continued to fall below its own production targets for the Model 3.

Tesla produced 2270 Model 3s per week in April, below its revised target of 2500. The firm had initially planned to produce 5000 cars a week by the end of 2017, but has hit trouble scaling up production, and has suspended work in its California factory on several occasions in a bid to cure “production bottlenecks".

In an email to staff, Musk said Tesla was ready to be profitable if it reduced capital expenditure and hit its target of producing 5000 models a week by the end of June.

Shares in Tesla Inc remained stable following the announcement of the results but then fell around five percent, according to Reuters - wiping around £1.47bn (Rs 13,322 crore) from the value of the company – during a media conference call given by Musk.

When asked what percentage of customers who had reserved a Model 3 had configured options for their cars – a signal of how much profit the firm could make on each vehicle – Musk responded: “These questions are so dry. They’re killing me.” 

Musk also cut off a question about capital expenditure, stating that: “Boring, bonehead questions are not cool.”

Musk then took a series of questions from the host of a YouTube channel. During that exchange, Musk reiterated that production on Tesla’s forthcoming Model Y crossover would begin in early 2020, and claimed the firm’s autonomous ride-sharing vehicle could be fully developed by late 2019.

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