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Tesla Model X deliveries to start in 3-4 months

"The Model X will be a better SUV than the Model S is a sedan," CEO Elon Musk said. The Model X, pictured, goes on sale in 3-4 months, Musk said Tuesday.

SAN FRANCISCO (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc. will begin deliveries of the Model X sport utility vehicle in three to four months, keeping close to the timeline the electric-car maker laid out earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk said.

"The Model X will be a better SUV than the Model S is a sedan," Musk, 43, said Tuesday at Tesla's annual shareholders meeting, held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

He also said CFO Deepak Ahuja will retire at the end of this year.

Musk said he's been driving the latest prototype of the Model X, which Tesla first unveiled as a concept in February 2012 and previously sought to have ready by the end of 2014.

More recently, Tesla told investors that initial deliveries to customers, several of whom have been waiting for more than three years, would begin late in the third quarter.

The smallest and youngest publicly held U.S. automaker is investing heavily in growth as it prepares to begin selling the Model X. Tesla is increasing production, building its battery factory east of Reno, Nev., and diversifying beyond cars, with a suite of battery products for homes, businesses and utilities.

Car-based SUVs are popular among female drivers, and in a January interview with Bloomberg, Musk said that the Model X is drawing more than half its orders from women.

This is a contrast from the predominantly male customer base for its Model S sedan and the Roadster, which the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company no longer sells.

Tesla is also working on the Model 3, to be released in 2017 with a starting price of roughly $35,000. In addition, the company is readying another software upgrade for the Model S, including so-called autopilot driver- assist technology, and "may be able to get it out to early- access customers by the end of this month," Musk said.

CFO's retirement

Ahuja has been Tesla's CFO since 2008, coming from Ford Motor Co. and seeing Tesla through its June 2010 initial public offering. He said he's retiring to pursue other life goals.

"It has been an honor working for you," Ahuja told Musk at the shareholder meeting. "I have discovered more potential in myself than I could have imagined."

Musk at the meeting also discussed the company's Tesla Energy push into battery products. There has been some confusion between the Powerwall, designed for residences, and the Powerpack, a much larger product aimed at businesses and utilities.

"More than 80 percent of our total energy sales will be at the Powerpack level to utilities and large industrial customers," he said. "That's where the economics are very compelling."

Tesla has just dramatically increased the Powerwall's capability, while keeping the price, about $3,500 with $500 for labor and installation costs, the same, executives said at the meeting.

Stock performance

Tesla shares fell 0.1 percent to $256 at the close Tuesday in New York and were little changed in extended trading.

The stock has gained 15 percent this year, outpacing the 1.5 percent increase for the Russell 1000 Index. Musk has said the company probably won't make money on a net basis until annual sales reach 500,000.

"I expect we'll achieve profitability in 2020," he said at a January event concurrent with the Detroit auto show. Musk is by far Tesla's largest shareholder with 22 percent.

He said in February that at the rate it's growing, if all goes right, Tesla in a decade could be worth as much as Apple Inc., the world's largest company by market valuation, is now.

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