Model 3
A 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in this photo illustration taken in Cardiff, California, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla held its annual shareholders’ meeting Tuesday, during which CEO, co-founder and chairman of the company’s board Elon Musk said he expected Tesla to make a profit in the coming July-September quarter. Musk has said this before too, expressing his estimation of the company turning a profit in the second half of 2018.

The last time Tesla posted quarterly profits was in third quarter of 2016, when it had $176 million in positive cash flow. That was also only the second quarter the company has registered a profit in its history, since it began trading publicly, and has made its financials known. The first time was the first quarter of 2013 when Tesla showed a little over $11 million profit on its books.

Whether the company will actually manage to achieve what Musk says it will depends largely on whether it can ramp up the production of its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan. Both at the meeting Tuesday and earlier on Twitter, Musk blamed excessive automation of Model 3 production lines for the slowdown in its ramp-up.

In mid-April, over 2,000 Model 3 vehicles were rolling off Tesla’s production line every week, Musk had said at the time, but he didn’t specify a number. On Tuesday, Musk’s presentation at the meeting (along with the Q&A session, it took over an hour of the meeting, which lasted less than 1 hour and 20 minutes in all) said “all Model 3 production lines have demonstrated capability of producing 500 cars per day.” He added it was “quite likely” the company would achieve the production of 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of June, a target first set for the end of 2017.

Musk also referred to the reduction in the number of service calls for the Model 3, referring to a graph that showed repair rate falling by 75 percent since deliveries first began in July 2017.

Tesla has been burning cash fast — over $1 billion during the first three months of 2018. That has raised concerns the company would need to take on more debt or sell more stock to have money for its operations. But Musk said the company expected to have “positive cash flow” during the second half of the year, in both the third and fourth quarters. He also said he didn’t think the company would need to raise any additional debt or equity.

“It’s insanely hard just staying alive,” Musk said of the business, referring to the fact that Tesla and Ford were the only two companies in the U.S. auto industry that had never gone bankrupt.

A shareholder proposal to have Musk step down as chairman of Tesla’s board was rejected by shareholders, as was another proposal that asked for three of the existing nine members of the board to not be reelected.

A representative from CtW Investment Group, an activist firm that invests union-sponsored pension funds and holds substantial Tesla stock, said during the Tuesday meeting “the current board is an obstacle, not an aid” to Tesla’s success, and asked shareholders to not reelect Antonio Gracias, Kimbal Musk and James Murdoch to the company’s board. CtW’s argument was that none of the three had knowledge of the auto industry, and were ill-suited to be on the Tesla board. Shareholders reelected all three, in line with the company’s recommendation.

Shares of Tesla closed 1.89 percent lower during regular trade Tuesday on Nasdaq, but gained 0.99 percent during after-hours trade.