Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

CEO Elon Musk, introducing the Tesla Semi in November. Photo: Veronique DuPont / AFP / Getty Images

Tesla today reported record losses for the fourth quarter on the glitch-riddled ramp-up of its much-promoted mainstream Model 3 electric car, but said annual revenue grew by 55% in 2017, and suggested that its main problems will be resolved in the coming weeks.

Driving the news: CEO Elon Musk spent much of an hour-long call with analysts explaining why his flagship Model 3 is so far behind production targets, and vowing to get back on track. Relying on humor and a bit of braggadocio, he suggested that he had what he called "deeper hell than we expected" under control.

Be smart: Forget the losses ($2.2 billion in all for 2017), and the revenue ($11.8 billion) as well. All that matters for Tesla is delivering the Model 3 at scale some time this year, meaning somewhere approaching 10,000 cars a week. As long as Musk can more or less achieve that, the repetitive black eyes and smack talk he has suffered will be forgotten.

A day after the launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket by Tesla's sister company SpaceX, Musk quipped, "If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production. It's just a matter of time."

Other detail:

  • Competitive advantage: Musk said Tesla's chief advantage over rivals won't be cool cars or in-vehicle technology, but efficient manufacturing. "We're going to productize the factory," he said. He said that the Model T's advantage, for instance, was not quality, but Henry Ford's creation of the assembly line at River Rouge in Michigan.
  • Battery bottleneck: Musk said the chief Model 3 bottleneck has been production of lithium-ion battery modules. When production began, he said, two of four battery production zones "flat out didn't work." In Germany, Tesla has redesigned the equipment, which he said will reach the U.S. next month for installation at the company's Gigafactory in Nevada.
  • Self-driving: A Goldman Sachs analyst asked why Musk diverges from virtually every other carmaker making autonomous vehicles by relying solely on radar, cameras and ultrasonic sensors, and eschewing Lidar. Musk said those using Lidar would end up with expensive equipment that "can't read signs," and ultimately would not fully work. "Perhaps I am wrong, in which case I'll look like a fool. But I'm quite certain I'm not wrong," he said.

Tesla's shares were up 3.3% today prior to the release of 2017 results.

This story has been updated.

Go deeper

Virginia lawmakers vote to legalize marijuana in 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Lawmakers in Virginia on Saturday approved compromise legislation that would legalize marijuana in 2024, putting the state a step closer to becoming the first in the South to end prohibition on the drug, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

Why it matters: The legislation will make Virginia the 16th state to legalize marijuana, per Politico. It would add to a slate of laws that have seen Virginia move in a more progressive direction during the tenure of Gov. Ralph Northam.

Scammers seize on COVID confusion

Data: FTC; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Scamming has skyrocketed in the past year, and much of the increase is attributed to COVID-related scams, more recently around vaccines.

Why it matters: The pandemic has created a prime opportunity for scammers to target people who are already confused about the chaotic rollouts of things like stimulus payments, loans, contact tracing and vaccines. Data shows that older people who aren't digitally literate are the most vulnerable.

14 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!