Tesla shares sink as Elon Musk changes tune on profit

Tesla Model Y electric crossover

Tesla's long-time CTO, JB Straubel, stepping down

Indeed, it doesn't appear that Straubel is leaving due to any friction with the company or fundamental disagreement with Musk.

While Tesla posted profits in the second half of a year ago, 2019 has been turbulent.

Co-founder & CTO, JB Straubel speaks about "Tesla's Electric Mission: Taking Batteries to a Whole New Level" during a session of the Seoul Digital Forum in Seoul, South Korea, May 20, 2015.

Besides releasing its financial results, Tesla revealed that its longtime chief technology officer, Jeffrey Straubel, is stepping down from the position to become an adviser.

But just reaching the lower-end of Musk's car-delivery goal for this year may prove hard. Tesla's stock fell to as low as $230.80 shortly after the open of regular trading and is down about 31% for the year.

In a statement on Wednesday, Tesla said it was focusing less on profit and more on volume growth, capacity expansion and cash generation. On the regularly scheduled analyst phone call that followed Wednesday's Q2 earnings report, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Straubel will remain in a senior advisory role at the automaker, and Straubel himself said, "I'm not disappearing and I just want to make sure that people understand that this is not some lack of confidence in the company or the team".

Per the Wall Street Journal, the record number of shipments actually left Tesla with revenue "more than 10% below the previous record, set in the fourth quarter of past year". Revenue jumped to $US6.3 ($9) billion, from $US4.5 ($6) billion in the first three months of the year.

The company said it is still striving to return to profitability by the third quarter of 2019.

The results suggest Tesla is beginning to face a classic auto industry problem: narrower margins stemming from its mass-market offerings, which are becoming a popular alternative to its more expensive models.

Many analysts note that Tesla will be challenged not only to meet its deliveries target of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles this year, but to keep profit margins from further eroding. Straubel has been a rare mainstay of Tesla's executive core, having been one of the company's founding architects and its CTO since 2005. Because of the large market for SUVs and their higher prices, the company sees the vehicle being more profitable than the Model 3, which is selling for about $50,000.

Tesla's current VP of technology, Drew Baglino, has been picked as Straubel's successor. "The best service, really, is no service", Musk said.

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