Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive officer of Tesla Motors, embodies the author Edwin Way Teale's observation that all things seem possible in May.
After a month full of successes at home in the U.S., Musk's next move is overseas. The South African-born entrepreneur is preparing to take his battery-powered Tesla Model S sedans to Europe this summer and to Asia by the end of the year. Eventually, the company expects most of its sales to come from outside the U.S., Musk said in a phone interview yesterday.
"The next step is delivery of Model S vehicles to Europe because thus far, all of our production has gone to North America," Musk said in an interview today on Bloomberg TV. "We'll start shipping to Europe with arrivals there in July. Then we'll start shipping to Asia in the fourth quarter, and really expanding the exports of the Model S."
Since the month began, Tesla posted its first quarterly profit, upped its delivery target for the Model S, and won a rave review from Consumer Reports magazine. The enthusiasm from investors that drove Tesla stock up 174 percent this year allowed the carmaker to raise $1 billion in share and debt sales. That shrewd move enabled Tesla to pay off loans from the U.S. Energy Department nine years early.
Eliminating the loan "gives us some additional operating flexibility and agility," Musk told me on the phone yesterday. Free from its obligation to the U.S. government, Tesla is investing in designing a more affordable car, which should be especially attractive to international markets. That vehicle will be half the price of the $69,900 Model S and available in three to four years, Musk said in the interview on Bloomberg West.
"That's really the car I wanted to create from the beginning: A compelling, affordable car that has a range of at least 200 miles," Musk said.
Considering that's about the distance from Munich to Zurich, it should satisfy many Europeans' travel needs.