While quarter-end discounting isn't necessarily new at Tesla -- and the incentives aren't big by auto industry standards -- there's a greater urgency behind the effort now because of the pressure Musk is under to deliver on his promise that the company will start generating profits in the second half of the year. The CEO is scrambling to post a strong third quarter while he simultaneously has been forced to deal with controversies much of his own making.
The Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation and the Securities and Exchange Commission started a civil probe into Musk's Aug. 7 tweet about possibly taking the company private. Tesla also fired more than 3,000 employees in June and has lost several high-level executives recently, including a new chief accountant, who departed after only a month. Musk also puffed on a joint during a YouTube interview with comedian Joe Rogan, distressing some investors.
Musk alluded to the pressure the company is under in an email to employees published as a blog post on Sept. 7. Tesla "is about to have the most amazing quarter in our history, building and delivering more than twice as many cars as we did last quarter," he wrote. "For a while, there will be a lot of fuss and noise in the media. Just ignore them."