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Car and Driver: Tesla Model 3 Orders Open March 31, Company Lost $889 Million in 2015

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Tesla Model S Badge LogoTesla lost a record $889 million in 2015, marking its eighth consecutive year of losses, as it sunk cash into launching the “falcon-winged” Model X crossover, continued construction of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery plant, and preparing to introduce an all-new Model 3 electric vehicle. CEO Elon Musk, speaking at a shareholder meeting Wednesday, said the company will begin accepting $1000 deposits for the Model 3 at Tesla stores on March 31 and online April 1. The Model 3 is planned to start below $40,000.


The Nevada-based Gigafactory, while not yet complete, is already cranking out Powerwall residential battery backups for the Tesla Energy division and has installed them in homes across the U.S., Germany, and Australia. In these markets, Tesla said it has been receiving more sales leads for home backup power than its cars.


But cars and public charging stations for now remain Tesla’s main squeeze. In 2016, Tesla says, it will open 80 new retail and service shops, 300 more Supercharger stations, and sell at least 60 percent more cars, from 50,580 worldwide in 2015 to between 80,000 and 90,000. Last year in the U.S., the Model S outsold the Mercedes-Benz S-class (25,202 versus 21,934) and per-car profit margins are reaching 30 percent. Only 206 Model X vehicles were sold in the fourth quarter, as Tesla had to hold the line back due to production difficulties. The company expects to build 1000 per week by the second quarter of 2016.


Tesla’s volatile stock now hovers around $154 per share, down from a 52-week high of $286.65 in July. Musk, who owns roughly a quarter of all Tesla shares, purchased more than 1.2 million additional shares within the past two weeks at a steep discount. Tesla expects it will be profitable by the fourth quarter of this year. Its only previous profitable quarter came in the first three months of 2013.


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