The Lofty Promises of Elon Musk

February 7, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk certainly isn’t one to shy away from making big promises.

On the company’s earnings call Wednesday, the billionaire entrepreneur said his company was on track to perform a coast-to-coast autonomous drive in three months and that he might set a goal of producing a million units a year of the as-yet-unveiled Model Y compact SUV. .

That target might be surprising to some, given that the electric automaker has fallen well short of production targets for its newest Model 3 vehicle. The company, which originally expected to make 5,000 of the cars a week, only delivered 1,550 in total during the fourth quarter.

Still Christian Prenzler, vice president of business development at Teslarati, says, the high expectations are par for the course for the chief executive.

“We’re talking about Elon Musk. Yesterday, he’s launching the world’s most powerful rocket and then lands it,” he told Cheddar after earnings. “It’s not a matter of if he can deliver these vehicles, it’s a matter of whether it’s going to happen in this quarter, the next quarter, or in the following quarter.”

“It’s mostly about how Tesla’s going to tackle these challenges over the next year as they ramp up production.”

Tesla said it still expects to make 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of the second quarter, a target set in January after already being pushed back a few times before that. The company has faced issues with inexperienced workers and in the production of batteries used in the cars. And some analysts fear that as it tries to ramp up manufacturing, it’s going to quickly burn through the $3.4 billion in cash it has on its balance sheet.

For the fourth quarter, Tesla reported its biggest ever loss of $675 million. In after-hours trading, Tesla shares were basically unchanged at $344, having closed at $345.