Musk tells Tesla employees to prove 'naysayers' wrong

Tesla CEO Elon Musk urged employees to “go all out” in the final day of the third quarter, as the electric-car maker pushed to meet ambitious production goals for the Model 3.

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The embattled executive, who reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week over charges related to his disclosure of a go-private plan, also told employees that Tesla is nearing profitability. Musk has pledged that Tesla would record profits and positive free cash flow in the third and fourth quarters this year.

“We are very close to achieving profitability and proving the naysayers wrong, but, to be certain, we must execute really well tomorrow (Sunday),” Musk wrote in an email on Sept. 30, according to a filing with the SEC. “If we go all out tomorrow, we will achieve an epic victory beyond all expectations.”

Tesla has struggled to quickly boost production of the Model 3, a car that is seen as critical to the upstart’s growth plans. After missing earlier goals, Tesla hit a targeted weekly production rate of 5,000 Model 3s in final week of the second quarter.

The Palo Alto, California-based company said Tuesday it built 80,142 vehicles in the third quarter, a 50 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. Production including 53,239 Model 3s, fulfilling guidance of between 50,000 to 55,000 vehicles for the latest quarter. Tesla also made 26,903 of its higher-priced vehicles, the Model S and Model X. The manufacturer plans combined Model S and Model X deliveries of 100,000 for the full year.

“It’s refreshing to see the company making headlines for producing cars, not controversies,” Jeremy Acevedo, manager of industry analysis at Edmunds, said in an email. “Between the makeshift tent, extra shifts and Elon’s all-nighters at the factory, it hasn't exactly been a traditional path getting here, but make no mistake that producing 50,000 Model 3s in [the third quarter] is a significant milestone.”

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The news comes after Musk and the SEC reached a settlement to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Musk’s August tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private was misleading to investors. Under terms of the settlement, Musk can remain CEO but must relinquish his role as chairman. Musk and Tesla will each pay a $20 million fine.

Tesla shares fell more than 1 percent in recent trading Tuesday.