But Musk said Wednesday he has no plans to step aside as CEO. It's not a question of whether it works or not. "It's just a matter of time", Musk said on a conference call with analysts.
More information was also shared about Tesla's planned ridesharing network, which first was first posted on Tesla's website at the end of 2016 with a mention that more details would be released the following year, but have yet to materialize. The company also sees 100,000 unit annual production for the new electric semi truck, and may be able to exceed performance specifications given a year ago.
The loss was narrower than Wall Street had expected, however.
Since Tesla wants to build a system that's more generally useful, it made sense for the company to not push ahead with this previous year and try to do it probably. George Galliers, an analyst at Evercore ISI, warned of "timing risk" around the reassembly process. Importantly, there is no volume limit during this phase out period, so whether or not Model 3 customers receive the credit, in full or in part, will depend entirely on the production ramp.
There were plenty of positive signs in the earnings, too.
The company's cash balance barely budged last quarter even as it struggled mightily to make Model 3 sedans.
"The business is complex, and there's nearly always something for bears to focus on". We are working hard to deliver more cars soon.
Finally, Tesla says in 2018 it will demonstrate the profitability of affordable electric vehicles, aiming for an impressive 25% gross margin for the Model 3 after production stabilizes at 5,000.
While one of Elon Musk's companies is celebrating after launching the world's most powerful rocket into space, another company is fighting for liftoff back on Earth.
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"This is the year when we believe we can achieve true cost parity-producing a premium EV like the Model 3 will be no more expensive than producing an ICE vehicle, something that many believe is not yet possible", Tesla said.
Tesla's total revenue for 2017 was $11.8 billion, which was also in line with analysts' forecasts.
The Model 3 numbers aren't a surprise - Tesla issued a " update in January stating that it had delivered 1,550 Model 3s to customers in the fourth quarter of 2017, and had another 860 en route to them.
Alleviating that constraint will get it to the 2,000 to 2,500 production rate. The company reported $675 million in losses attributable to shareholders in Q4, wrapping up 2017 with nearly $2 billion in losses for the whole year.
Tesla deployed 143 megawatt-hours of energy storage products in Q4, up 45% year over year - and this does not include Tesla's 129 megawatt-hour energy storage deployment in South Australia, which will be recognized in Q1.
"If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production".
Tesla will announce the location for where it'll build that in three to six months, with capital spending toward the vehicle starting later this year. Elon Musk hopes that Tesla will be able to generate profits in 2018 as Model 3 production goes up.
The department tasked with pulling that off will now be reporting directly to the CEO after Lyft Inc. hired away Jon McNeill, who had been president of global sales and service at Tesla and an influential figure at the company.