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Tesla’s Musk Sidesteps 2012 Model S Goal, Sees 20,000 in 2013

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Motors Inc., declined to confirm that the electric-car maker will be able to meet its initial delivery target for Model S sedans this year.

Tesla, which began building the luxury cars in June in Fremont, California, will deliver 20,000 of the sedans next year and achieve a gross margin of more than 20 percent, Musk said yesterday in a Bloomberg Television interview on “In the Loop with Betty Liu.”

The company in July said it was confident of delivering 5,000 Model S cars this year. Musk wouldn’t comment on that goal yesterday, saying that “I need to be very hesitant about talking about any near-term metrics for Tesla.”

The carmaker, which counts Daimler AG and Toyota Motor Corp. as customers and investors, has set a goal of becoming profitable by as early as next year from sales the $57,400 Model S and Model X sport-utility vehicle due in late 2013. Tesla is trying to balance investor demands to expand its business as quickly as possible while also avoiding quality problems and delays that have hit rechargeable vehicle competitors including Fisker Automotive Inc.

“Should the company not meet the 5,000-unit goal, that will have some negative impact on revenue in the fourth quarter,” said Alan Baum, principal of auto-industry forecaster Baum & Associates in West Bloomfield, Michigan. That may not be an immediate concern for Tesla’s customers, he said.

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