Elon Musk says Tesla's logistics problems made 'World War II look trivial'

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Elon Musk says Tesla's logistics problems made 'World War II look trivial'
Tesla's CEO likened his company's production issues to the largest armed conflict in modern history.Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Monday the company's production woes made World War II look "trivial."
  • "The scale is insane," Musk said of producing millions of cars for 50 countries.
  • He said Tesla's main achievement was getting to volume production without going bankrupt.

Tesla sold nearly 500,000 electric cars last year and says it's on track to deliver more than 750,000 in 2021 - but Elon Musk has said the company had to go through "hell" to get to that level of production.

On Monday, the CEO said tackling Tesla's production issues and supply constraints presented a "logistical problem that makes World War II look trivial."

"I'm not kidding. The scale is insane," Musk told investors on a conference call following Tesla's first-quarter earnings report. "We're talking millions of cars, massive global supply chain, 50 countries, dozens of regulatory regimes."

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World War II involved the majority of the world's countries and saw major industrial powers throw virtually their entire economic might behind the war effort.

Reiterating a point he's made on multiple occasions, Musk said that Tesla's key achievement wasn't developing an electric car, but rather becoming the first new American car company to get to volume production without going bankrupt.

Read more: You should appreciate Tesla even if you can't stand Elon Musk - because it's done something nobody thought was possible

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"Myself and many others at Tesla had to basically have several aneurysms to get this done," Musk said.

To illustrate his point that small hiccups and delays can throw production into a tailspin, Musk said at one point Tesla had to stop building the Model S over a lack of trunk carpeting, and that another time the company had to raid electronics stores in the Bay Area for USB cables.

"For a few days there, nobody could buy a USB cable in the Bay Area because we went and bought them all to put them in the car, literally," Musk said. "There's hundreds of stories like that."

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Tesla on Monday reported quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street's estimates, though its record profits came from sales of bitcoin and regulatory credits, rather than automobiles.

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