Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during a June deposition that he wishes the electric-car maker's Model 3 sedan was less expensive. The transcript of the deposition was obtained by PlainSite, an organization that advocates for transparency in the US judicial system.
"I wrote in 2006 the master plan for Tesla and step three was an affordable car, at least reasonably affordable. It's not as affordable as we would like," Musk said of the Model 3.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
At the time of publication, the Model 3 is listed at $39,490 on the Tesla website. The company had previously included a trim that started at $35,000, but removed it from its website in April, saying customers could order it only by phone or in one of the company's stores. A few weeks after the move, Musk said customers hadn't shown much interest in the $35,000 Model 3.
"I mean, our goal, as we've been very clear about from the beginning of the company, is to make our cars as affordable as possible. And we felt it was important to offer the $35,000 Model 3," Musk said during Tesla's first-quarter earnings call.
"We see very few people actually taking us up on that $35,000 offer, but it is there and will remain there," he added.
The first deliveries of the $35,000 Model 3, which happened in April, were a landmark for Tesla. The company says its mission is to "accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy," and in a 2006 blog post, Musk described one of Tesla's long-term objectives as using the proceeds from high-end electric cars to fund the development of affordable models.
Musk would later frame the Model 3 as the fulfillment of that goal, and the hundreds of thousands of preorders Tesla received for the Model 3 suggested demand for electric vehicles extended beyond early adopters willing to pay luxury prices.
Tesla began delivering high-end versions of the Model 3 in July 2017 but struggled to hit production targets for the next year amid excessive automation at its Fremont, California, assembly plant. As the company smoothed out its production process, Musk said it needed more time to make the $35,000 Model 3 profitably.
Musk's June deposition was part of a lawsuit filed by Tesla shareholders alleging that the members of Tesla's board of directors, which included Musk at the time, acted in their own best interests, rather than in those of Tesla's investors, when they approved Tesla's $2.6 billion acquisition of the solar-panel company SolarCity in 2016.
Read the relevant portions of the deposition document below:
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