Tesla Motors coming of age as an automaker SFGate

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Tesla Motors Electric Cars

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Every startup eventually must across the Valley of Death the gap between developing a product and producing it.

But for Tesla Motors, chasm is particularly wide.

made its name building high-priced electric sports for the glitterati. The company’s iconic, Roadster, introduced in 2008, was meant for the mass market. Its run will end at a mere 2,500

Now, Tesla is leaving its as a boutique automaker behind. The Alto company, founded in will make the jump to production with its next the Model S, to be built at the old New United Manufacturing Inc. factory in Next year, the company to assemble 5,000 of the electric at the plant.

In 2013, that should reach 20,000. The S will cost $57,400 to depending on the capacity of its battery

We could afford to make our on a small scale, in order to making them at a large said Chief Executive Elon Musk. We’ve got all the learned from the Roadster, so applying those to the Model S to sure those mistakes are not

It’s a daunting leap. At point, one year after the went public, Tesla to be midway across its own Valley of trying to ensure a smooth

Construction crews are transforming of the old Nummi plant, in some tweaking the existing machinery, in bringing in equipment bought Detroit at fire-sale prices. of the gear will be installed by and the plant should be ready to production by mid-March, according to Passin. Tesla’s vice of manufacturing.

I’m sure be things we’ll have to with, but from my vantage I feel pretty good, said, touring the plant on a afternoon. There’s a lot to do, and we’re a lot.

Raised $232 million

In the company raised $232 earlier this month a secondary stock offering and placement. The money will develop the Model X. an electric vehicle that Tesla to introduce by the end of 2013.

And yet, still hasn’t earned a

The company brought in $116.7 in revenue last year, but $154.3 million overall. of the Roadster will end early year, months before the S hits the market in the middle of In between, Tesla’s revenue come from selling power train components to companies as Daimler and Toyota. not selling Tesla cars.

in 2013

Musk expects the to reach profitability in 2013, Model S production tops or 8,000. Skepticism persists, Last week, the Motley investment website discussed prospects in a story headlined 2 Companies Will Never a Profit, arguing that won’t rise fast to keep up with debt (The other company was radio service Pandora.)

But investors continue to buy the stock. its initial public offering on 29 last year, Tesla’s have risen 71 percent. It Friday at $29.02.

‘Still doubters’

They’ve got their of challenges, said Scott associate editor for the Edmunds.com information website. But a few years if you would have asked a of industry experts if Tesla was to make it, a lot of them would said no. And there are still doubters, but that number is smaller.

Certainly, the purchase of the Nummi plant has improved chances.

The company paid $42 million for the facility, which to crank out 500,000 vehicles a under a joint venture General Motors and Toyota. The price did not include the plant’s some of which Tesla purchased for $17 million.

I cannot imagine trying to that facility from in the Bay Area today, Musk I suspect you’d probably about a billion dollars. The paint shop alone, he would cost $150

Tesla won’t use the entire 5.5 facility, at least not yet. of the main building remains and dark, stripped of machinery.

Tesla Motors Electric Cars

be mothballed, but believe me, we have to fill it up, Passin said.

S sedans will be assembled in the southernmost corner, with vehicles carrying each across a gleaming white A small indoor driving with a surface like will allow workers to drive every car once assembled.

If there are imperfections, hear it, Passin said.

In building, construction crews installed a press line three stories tall and from Michigan — will stamp body from pieces of aluminum, pistons the width of tree Workers had to rebuild the cement to support the towering machines.

Other gear Tesla from the Nummi joint is already up and running. Angelo a Tesla manufacturing technician who to work for Nummi, studied an molding machine as it melted plastic pellets and shaped into a bumper.

It feels to see it moving again, hear it again, Limnios said.


Tesla plans to into the plant, expanding to each new car model. Each will cost a little than the last, reaching into the mass market. shift will pose its own

Tesla must try to hold on to its image, even as its cars more affordable.

Maybe we won’t be seen as but that’s OK, Musk said. really matters is, are you delivering high-quality products that and delight people? A car may feel it’s inexpensive, but it should feel cheap.

In the pipeline

Roadster production coming to an Tesla Motors plans new models of electric cars.

Tesla Motors Electric Cars
Tesla Motors Electric Cars
Tesla Motors Electric Cars
Tesla Motors Electric Cars
Tesla Motors Electric Cars


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