Tesla aims to start pilot production of Model 3 cars on Feb. 20: Sources – CNBC

Posted: Thursday, February 09, 2017

Musk had told investors last year that the company could miss the July 2017 startup target if suppliers do not meet deadlines.

Tesla has a lot riding on the Model 3, which is priced at roughly $35,000 before government incentives. If successful, the sedan could raise Tesla beyond a niche luxury player in the automotive sector.

Tesla has not had a profitable year since going public in 2010, though the company’s $41.4 billion market capitalization now equals that of Nissan Motor, which reported a profit of $4.7 billion last year.

Musk’s bold approach to cars, space exploration and clean energy has fueled investor enthusiasm for Tesla, but skeptics are waiting to see if Musk can fulfill his promise of producing 500,000 cars per year by 2018.

That would expand Tesla’s annual production by four to five times compared to 2016 levels. In its fourth quarter, Tesla produced 24,882 vehicles.

Tesla disclosed in May that it had taken 373,000 refundable $1000 deposits for the Model 3, underscoring its appeal ahead of production. The company has not since updated that number. Total sales of fully electric vehicles last year in the United States amounted to just 84,275 vehicles, according to data compiled by the Electric Drive Transportation Association.

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