Well we can agree to disagree, but the CEO of GM (Mary Barra) as recently as Feb. 2019, has stated that GM isn't profitable on the BEVs.
Pick your source, but you'll see the same information from the investors brief.
I understand Tesla is spending money on far more than just production. The main question here is why. I believe that's partly because sales of Model S and X are falling off. I'm not sure the company is sustainable on 50,000 vehicles a year (Model S & X). Hard to say, because Tesla doesn't break out their financials in way that allows one to really see what's driving costs easily. Model S sales peaked in 2016, declined in 2017, declined again in 2018, and is declined so far in 2019 through Q1.
It's nice to get an idea of other perspectives though. I appreciate learning what others think/feel on this whole BEV industry. Having previously worked in the automotive world (Tier 1 supplier), and being based in the Midwest... well, I get different limited view of the industry. Appreciate hearing your take on it as well.
It's difficult to gauge whether the statistics from California represent a future trend of the rest of country. Part of if may be that Tesla is the only automaker in California and they supply well over half of all BEV's.
This muddies the waters as to what the real demand is, when you take Tesla out of the equation. But based on the link below, EV growth is gaining momentum to over 5% of total sales in Ca.
Additionally, the Model 3 in Q4/18 was in the top 5 best selling cars (not just BEV's) in the country.
As more and more EV's hit the streets, and the exposure to their advantages become hard to dismiss, even for hard core ICEV proponents, the tide will turn. From the anecdotal evidence from other Model 3 owners, it's a rare passenger that isn't blown away when given or taken a test drive, to the point that they most usually claim, "this will be their next car". I'm sure you see the same thing with Bolts.
If you listen to the comments by Palihapitiya, he makes a compelling case at the 5 minute mark.
There's also the statistics comparing numbers of mid-size luxury cars since that's the Model 3 segment (per EPA). In Q1/2019 which most will agree was a disastrous quarter for Tesla, they sold more Model 3's that any mid-size luxury auto in the US in all of 2018 (7:20). This even after the cut back on the FedCred to half.
The demand still outstrips the supply so we still don't know when they will reach the saturation point. I'm certainly optimistic for the future of EV's as I've been driving them for 4 years now and come from a passion for well engineered, quality, performance cars and will never go back. I'm not an outlier in that position.
To help clarify your point as to why Tesla is spending so much money, it's an extremely small amount that is spent on a refresh for the S and X Raven that is now being shipped. The breakdown is more in line with investment in future growth and support such as Maxwell acquisition, Supercharger build out, GF3 in China, Software development, Autonomy, Service Centers, etc.
As I think Raitchison pointed out, if they just sat on their hands and cranked out Models S,3, and X without regards for the supercharger network or plans to eventually produce millions/year, they would be extremely profitable to around a 20% margin. Google Sandy Munro's talks on Autoline where he discusses the cost breakdowns for the US built cars. The Chinese versions will be even cheaper but we won't be seeing any of them here.