5 questions for Tesla ahead of meeting: Date for affordable car? Model X timing?

5 questions for Tesla ahead of meeting: Date for affordable car? Model X timing?
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, with a Powerpack -- a battery system that can let businesses store large amounts of energy -- in the background at the Tesla Design Studio in Hawthorne in April. Musk is expected to make a presentation today at Tesla's annual meeting. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Tesla Motors will probably face crucial questions about its future -- both products and profits -- when it addresses shareholders today at a standing-room-only meeting in Mountain View, Calif.

The annual meeting starts at 2 p.m. PDT at the Computer History Museum and will be shown via webcast. Chief Executive Elon Musk is expected to make a presentation.

Here are five of the main questions facing the company:

Will the Model X arrive on time?


The long-awaited SUV has a tough act to follow in the Model S sedan, currently Tesla's only car. Deliveries of the Model X are supposed to start in the third quarter, but the vehicle has faced numerous delays.

In his discussion of Tesla's first-quarter results and outlook for the year, Musk said the company was on track to make 55,000 vehicles this year, with a chunk coming from the Model X. Last year, the company produced about 35,000 Model S sedans.  In the U.S. they sell for an average price of about $100,000.

The Model X is expected to sell in at least that price range, but official pricing has not been announced. The Model X may actually bring a higher average sale price because of its larger size and fancy features such as "falcon doors" that swing up instead of out.

How many orders are in the pipeline?

Until now, Tesla has sold every car it has made and has reported waiting lists -- but it has never had to compete against itself before. Will the Model X cannibalize sales of the Model S?

The breakdown of standing orders for the Model S versus the Model X might provide some clue, if Telsa will provide those numbers.

When will Tesla produce an affordable electric car?

This question goes to the center of the company's mission and its long-term prospects. Musk has said he first financed Tesla to produce an affordable zero-emissions cars for the masses, which is the only way Tesla can put a big dent in tailpipe pollution.

News on the expected launch of Tesla's planned Model 3 -- a car Musk says will sell for about $35,000, before any government subsidies -- would give investors a broader picture of the company's progress toward breaking out of its luxury niche.

Musk has said it would reach the market in mid-2017 and have a driving range of about 200 miles. Musk has acknowledged, however, that it could take years to develop the manufacturing capacity to fulfill demand.

When's that big battery factory opening?

Development of that affordable electric car depends in large part on Tesla getting its planned Nevada battery factory ramped up quickly. Tesla needs the production and cost savings from volume manufacturing to help lower the cost of its vehicles.

The plant also will be crucial for Tesla's entry into the industry of energy storage for homes and businesses.

When will Tesla make money?

The Palo Alto electric car company lost $154 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $49.8 million a year earlier. First-quarter revenue rose 51% to nearly $940 million. Musk said the losses come from investing so heavily in the development of new models and the battery factory.

Tesla will need the higher-volume, affordable model to make the company profitable by 2020, Musk said at a recent automotive industry conference in Detroit.

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