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Elon Musk expects Tesla to be profitable in the second half of 2018, even as it misses Model 3 production goals

Tesla only produced 2,270 cars a week in April, short of its adjusted goal of 2,500 a week.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
VCG / Getty

Tesla missed a crucial production goal but its financials beat Wall Street expectations in the first quarter of 2018.

The company lost $710 million on $3.41 billion in revenue, a new high, as it struggled to meet the production goals for its mass-market vehicle, the Model 3.

Wall Street was looking for a loss of $3.58 per share on revenue of $3.2 billion.

Compare that to the fourth quarter of 2017 when Tesla posted a $675 million loss on $3.3 billion in revenue.

The company is ready to be profitable, Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently wrote in an email to staff, and needs to whittle down its capital expenditures.

Musk wrote that he expects to reach full GAAP profitability in the third and fourth quarters of 2018. Achieving that will depend significantly on whether the company can produce 5,000 Model 3s a week, he wrote.

The automaker has only had two profitable quarters since it went public in 2010.

Musk also said he plans to personally approve any expenditure above $1 million. But the company expects to go on a hiring spree as it attempts to meet the ambitious production goals Musk has set for the Model 3. In his recent email, Musk said the company will add 400 people per week at both factories for several weeks.

The electric vehicle automaker was unable to meet its goal of producing 2,500 cars a week by the end of March. The company only produced 2,270 cars a week in April. It was, however, the third week Tesla was able to produce more than 2,000 cars a week.

Tesla expects to meet its original goal of manufacturing 5,000 cars a week, which was pushed back from the end of 2017, in two months, according to the letter to shareholders.

To do that the company expects to halt production for a few days in the second quarter to update some of its manufacturing lines. The company did this several times in the first quarter, including once in April.

As a whole, the company produced 24,728 Model S and Model X and 9,766 Model 3 vehicles, and delivered 21,815 Model S and Model X and 8,182 Model 3 vehicles, totaling 29,997 deliveries in the first quarter.

Originally, Musk aimed to produce 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of 2017. He shifted that rate goal to 5,000 cars a week by the end of March 2018 and then later lowered it to 2,500.

As of April, Tesla was producing 2,250 Model 3s a week, 250 short of that goal. In an email to staff, Musk said Model 3 production should be at 3,000 to 4,000 per week in May and 6,000 cars a week by June.

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