Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- Tesla has a history of proving its doubters wrong, but this year, the automaker has faced a number of challenges.
- From CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior to questions about its financial health and ability to build cars at scale, Tesla may be at an inflection point.
- Whether Tesla can overcome recent challenges could determine whether 2018 sets the stage for another improbable triumph or raises serious questions about the company's future.
Tesla has a history of beating the odds.
CEO Elon Musk has said he believed the company had around a 10% chance of success when it was founded in 2003. Since then, the company has won awards for its vehicles, built an enthusiastic fanbase, and watched its market capitalization approach and at times top those of General Motors, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler.
Part of the company's success can be attributed to Musk's rare gift for storytelling. Since taking over as the company's chief executive in 2008, he's outlined a vision for the company that extends beyond selling cars to transforming global energy grids. Investors have shown faith in Musk, which is why Tesla has been able to raise money without much difficulty despite posting consistent deficits.
But Tesla has faced a number of challenges this year, including concerns over its finances, ability to build cars at scale, and public comments attributed to Musk and Tesla. Now, the company is at an inflection point. Musk says the company will be consistently profitable starting in the third quarter and won't have to raise money for the rest of the year. Some analysts and investors disagree with him.
Whether Musk lives up to his assertion could determine whether 2018 sets the stage for another improbable triumph or raises serious questions about Tesla's future.
Here are the incidents that have led to Tesla's latest moment of reckoning.
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- A Drug Enforcement Agency plane collided with a Tesla Model X while crash-landing on a Texas street
- Former GM exec Bob Lutz predicts conspiracy theorists will soon be asking 'Who killed Tesla?'
- The Audi e-tron all-electric SUV is here, and it may have just eaten Tesla's lunch