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How Tesla Motors Will Get to 500,000 Vehicles

In January 2011 Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) presented an aluminum body of its planned Model S. Producing just hundreds of its fully electric sporty Roadsters per year at the time, CEO Elon Musk’s prediction that Tesla could sell 20,000 of these luxury family-sized vehicles in the first full year of operation sounded a bit crazy. Fast-forward to the end of 2013, the company’s first full calendar year of Model S sales, and Tesla had sold 22,477 vehicles.

Tesla Model S. Photo by Levi Sim, used with permission.

Now Musk is sounding crazy again. The company says that, thanks to its planned Gigafactory and a lower-cost car scheduled for a 2017 launch, Tesla could sell 500,000 vehicles annually by 2020. And once again, Musk’s prediction is difficult for the general public to believe. And Tesla skeptics are concerned: If there is a risk posed to demand, is Tesla’s plan to build a factory that will more than double worldwide production of lithium-ion batteries a risky bet?
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