By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT Jan 13 Tesla Motors Inc, maker
of the Model S electric sedan, aims to earn its first profit
later this year and launch a cheaper electric vehicle within
three to four years, Chief Executive Elon Musk said.
The 10-year-old electric car maker has reached its target
production rate for the Model S of 20,000 a year and expects to
launch the Model X, a luxury crossover built on the Model S
platform, in the second half of 2014, he said.
"Now, the tough thing for Tesla is to actually make a profit
for the first time," Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Sunday,
while accepting an award in Detroit. "That's, I think, when you
start being a real company."
Musk told reporters that a quarterly profit was more likely
toward the end of 2013, rather than the beginning of the year.
Analysts expect Tesla to show a profit of 6 cents per share in
the third quarter of 2013, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"I'm hoping we'll have a profitable quarter this year," Musk
said after the event held a day before a media preview of the
Detroit auto show. "Shame on us if we can't achieve that."
The automaker, founded by Musk, went public in 2010. The
Model S is the company's second-generation vehicle, after the
Roadster electric sports car. The Model S starts at nearly
$60,000 before a federal tax credit.
Tesla is also working on a third-generation vehicle that
would cost around $30,000 to $35,000, Musk told reporters. The
vehicle will be smaller than the Model S and roughly the size of
BMW's 3-series sedan.
Tesla's lineup costs between $60,000 and $120,000,
representing the "sweet spot" of demand for electric vehicles,
J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman said in a research note last
Brinkman expressed concerns about Tesla's cheaper EV, saying
demand for mass-market electric cars was "spottier."