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As Tesla’s $10 billion market valuation soared past that of Fiat SpA at the end of last quarter, the company has the attention of investors, but of value to actual car drivers is Tesla aims to strip Nissan’s Leaf of any perceived market superiority.

A sub-$40,000 Tesla electric car with 200 miles range, said CEO Elon Musk in an interview with theDetroit News, is due in “three to four years” and Tesla has previously repeated this is a priority.

“With the Model S, you have a compelling car that’s too expensive for most people,” Musk said. “And you have the Leaf, which is cheap, but it’s not great. What the world really needs is a great, affordable electric car. I’m not going to let anything go, no matter what people offer, until I complete that mission.”

Speaking further about the pending electric peoples’, Musk said at the D11 Conference yesterday, “Also, the car will probably be 20-percent smaller than the Model S [pictured], and an order of magnitude bigger production.”

Musk was also asked when Tesla be profitable without subsidies?

“By the end of this year,” said Musk at D11. “We’re expecting 25 percent gross margins absent of credits. Well including consumer tax credits, but not subsidies.”

Musk has demonstrated a history of putting his money where his mouth is, having floated much of the company with personal funds as needed, and personally backing Model S resale values in more recent announcements.

Note he says what “the world” needs, and his reference to not letting go of control of the company until the “mission” is completed.



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