Elon Musk Corrects Record On ‘Overzealous’ Tesla Sales E-Mail

Wanting to dispel any speculation that Tesla might have been “booking vehicles as sold that were not actually sold” to inflate its results, CEO Elon Musk said a letter his staff sent to prospective buyers last month was “overzealous.”

This he said in an interview with Bloomberg of an e-mail sent in March to customers who’d only gone so far in reserving a Model S. The e-mail was said to be almost pushing them to complete the sale so Tesla could reach a “huge company milestone.”

The problem was, Musk said, Tesla Motors had not approved the letter, and this news comes just after Tesla has reported it first-ever profitable quarter this year.

“Some of our sales folks got a little overzealous and sent out the e-mail,” said Musk yesterday to Bloomberg. “As soon as I found out, I put an immediate stop to it. That is not how Tesla operates.”

Musk added that the e-mail did not affect the Palo Alto California-based company’s having exceeded its Q1 forecast.

Not one sale of the 4,750-plus Model S orders were counted until three things took place he said. These are that each counted delivery was paid for, delivered, and its paperwork was completed and filed.

“All three of those things must be true,” said Musk. “We had a clear, clean victory in Q1 and I don’t want to sully that with any sense that it was juiced in some way.”

On Monday Tesla’s stock crested 16 percent on the news it was in the black, and the last thing Musk wants is to sully the possibility that the books are being cooked, and he repeated the company has been fastidious in its accounting.

“The only thing that counts is if we’ve sent them the car,” he said. “We are literally bending over backwards and twisting ourselves into a pretzel to make sure that every sale is legitimate.”

Tesla’s latest “huge” announcement on Tuesday that actually was fully endorsed by Musk is the company will try to juice sales in a bona fide manner by offering a creative hybrid structure of a purchase with elements of a lease.

That news did nothing positive for the company’s stock, and it actually fell 2 percent before 10 the following morning in New York.

Ups and downs in the face of a fickle market notwithstanding, Tesla aims to sell 20,000 Model S cars this year and remains one of the top-three sellers of cars that plug in.

It’s a notable achievement given the price of its cars is far above those of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, the other two major players at this stage of the game.


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