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Tesla Wants to Make Half a Million Electric Cars a Year by 2018

Tesla Motors on Wednesday posted quarterly results that met Wall Street's expectations and gave a bullish outlook for vehicle production on the strength of demand for its upcoming Model 3.

CEO Elon Musk also said on Tesla's earnings conference call late Wednesday that 1 million in annual production by 2020 would be his "best guess."

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The electric automaker reported a first-quarter loss of 57 cents per share on $1.6 billion in revenue. The shortfall was wider than the 36 cents per share reported a year earlier, while sales climbed 45 percent from the prior-year period.

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Analysts expected Tesla to report a loss of 58 cents per share on $1.6 billion in revenue, according to a Thomson Reuters consensus estimate. The company's shares rose as much as 8 percent in after-hours trading before retreating slightly.

The stock was up about 4.5 percent before the bell on Thursday

Despite recent capacity concerns, Tesla said it is "on track" for production and delivery of its Model 3 mass-market car in late 2017. The company moved its 500,000 total unit annual build target up two years to 2018, citing demand for the Model 3. It previously blew away expectations with more than 325,000 reservations for the car.

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"The overwhelming demand for Model 3 confirms that compelling all-electric vehicles have mass-market appeal," Tesla said in its shareholder letter.

Tesla reported first-quarter deliveries of 14,810 vehicles, nearly in line with the figure announced in April. It expects second-quarter deliveries of about 17,000 vehicles, below analysts' forecasts for nearly 19,500, according to StreetAccount.