LISTEN TO TLR’S LATEST PODCAST:
By Chris White
Tesla CEO Elon Musk thinks Wall Street analysts are crazy for believing the electric automaker is worth billions of dollars.
“I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve,” Musk told reporters in an interview Wednesday, adding that the Silicon Valley company produces a fraction of GM’s total output. “We’re a money losing company.”
Tesla raised its market capitalization to $51 billion in April, a number that is valued at about $1.7 billion more than GM. The two companies wrestled for supremacy throughout the month. The company’s stock fell 5 percent May 4 after reports showed Musk burned through $623 million during the first quarter.
Analysts have since debated whether Tesla’s recent surge is sustainable, given the company’s chronic inability to deliver products on deadline. Some analysts say the old metrics of valuation do not apply to Tesla, because investors and the public believe the company is upending the auto market.
Others believe the valuation is dependent on the price of oil, and Tesla’s ability to produce the highly-anticipated Model 3 vehicle.
Musk’s comments come as Tesla workers continue to complain about working conditions at the company’s California facility.
Ambulances have been called more than 100 times during the past three years for workers experiencing a host of ailments, including fainting spells and seizures, according to incident reports The Guardian obtained. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues.
The incidents are worrisome, Musk acknowledged during the interview, but it is part of the price of being a small operation having to compete with the likes of GM and Ford, as well as Volkswagen, which has made beating Tesla in the electric vehicle market one of its primary goals.
“This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing,” Musk continued. “It’s just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?”
Criticisms about Tesla’s working environment first began cropping up in March when employers complained the company was trying to prevent them from unionizing. The United Auto Workers filed charges in April with the National Labor Relations Board claiming Tesla is attempting to scuttle efforts to unionize the Silicon Valley company, reports Buzzfeed.
Musk, who owns more than 20 percent of the company, offered employees roller coaster rides at the California facility if the Model 3 is produced at full volume. The promises were meant to staunch concerns from employees.
There will be “free frozen yogurt stands scattered around the factory” and a “Tesla electric pod car roller coaster” as soon as the company production on the Model 3 reaches “volume production,” Musk wrote in April in an email to employees.