Tesla CEO now prefers to let results tell the story

Article by Anita Panait, on February 5, 2014

Tesla Motors Inc.’s co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk is known for his swagger – speaking his mind when he feels he needs to. In 2012, Musk proposed colonizing Mars and developing a fifth form of human transportation. He recently challenged the auto industry's retail model. But now, Musk is trying to show restraint and let the Tesla’s actions do the talking, telling Bloomberg in an interview that it is time to under-promise and over-deliver.

An instance is that Musk declined to say if China would become Tesla's biggest market next year.  Tesla is likely to have sold 20-percent more Model S units in the fourth quarter than Musk had forecasted. While Musk still expects that Tesla would require more capacity than the 500,000 cars its site can build annually, he declines to forecast when the carmaker would need a second one.

"I'd like to get into the habit of exceeding expectations," Musk told Bloomberg in a recent interview. He also envisions production a half million electric vehicles annually at Tesla's Fremont site in California without disclosing when that will happen. "We're at a measly 30,000 unit a year run rate." His swagger could be one of the reasons why the Model S has been so popular and why Tesla shares have quadrupled in 2013.

His challenge is now how to live up to investors’ and well as consumers’ expectations, thereby keeping the carmaker’s growth steadily increasing. "It's a natural and wise decision to begin to temper his statements," remarked Ed Kim, an analyst at consultant AutoPacific Inc. "You can't over-deliver on outlandish promises forever."

Topics: tesla, ceo

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