Elon Musk: Tesla ‘Faced A Severe Threat Of Death’ Earlier This Year

By Annie Baker ● Updated November 27, 2018

In a candid interview on Axios on HBO on Sunday, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said that the automaker was spending money substantially during the production ramp-up of the Model 3 vehicle and the company nearly went under.

“Essentially, the company was bleeding money like crazy, and, if we didn’t solve these problems in a very short period of time, we would die. And it was extremely difficult to solve them,” Musk said. And Musk explained that Tesla was “within single-digit weeks” of dying.


Photo: Elon Musk / Credit: Tesla

During that time, Musk said that Tesla was in “production hell” as the company was aiming to build 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of June. Musk noted that he was pushed to his limits and he was sleeping on the factory floor during that time. And Musk worked about twenty-two hours a day, seven days a week.

“It hurts my brain and my heart,” Musk acknowledged via MarketWatch. “It hurts. It is not recommended for anyone. I just did it because if I didn’t do it… there was a good chance Tesla would die.”

All of this hard work paid off. In October, Tesla Motors reported a quarterly profit — which came as a surprise. And Musk declared that Tesla is likely going to be cash-flow positive for all quarters going forward during the call.

Musk also mentioned in the interview that there was a 70% chance that he would take a SpaceX rocket to Mars someday. Even though the probability of dying on Mars is much higher than Earth, he commented that “there’s lots of people who climb mountains. People die on Mount Everest all the time. They like doing it for the challenge.”