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Tesla posts bigger 2Q loss as it invests in Model X and prepares Nevada factory site

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PALO ALTO, Calif. - Electric car maker Tesla Motors widened its loss in the second quarter as it prepared for the launch of a new SUV and started work on a massive new battery plant.

Tesla said it started preparing a site for the factory outside Reno, Nevada, last month. But the company is still considering sites in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas, and won't make a final decision for several months.

"Before we go to the next stage of pouring a lot of concrete, we want incentives there that make sense and are fair to the state and Tesla," Musk said.

Palo Alto, California-based Tesla reported a loss of $61.9 million, or 50 cents per share, compared with a loss of $30.5 million, or 26 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Tesla said it spent more on engineering for its Model X SUV, which is scheduled to go into production early next year. Tesla is also building a new final assembly line and making other adjustments so it can build both its Model S sedan and the Model X at the same factory in Fremont, California. It plans to close the plant for two weeks in the third quarter, but says customer deliveries won't be affected.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company expects to be able to build 100,000 vehicles annually by the end of next year, up from 35,000 this year. He said production will likely be evenly split between the Model S and the Model X.

Tesla could build up to 200,000 vehicles per year with its current battery supplies, Musk said. But to reach 300,000, the company needs the $5 billion battery plant it's planning to build over the next three years.

There has been fierce competition among states for the plant, which Tesla says will employ as many as 6,500 workers by 2020. The plant is intended to supply Tesla's mass-market third generation car, the Model 3, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2017. At around $30,000, the Model 3 would be less than half the starting price of a Model S.

The company delivered 7,579 Model S sedans in the second quarter, slightly above its guidance of 7,500. Tesla also built more than 50 charging stations during the quarter, bringing its total to 156. Customers can charge their electric cars for free at the stations.

Earnings, adjusted for stock option expenses and lease accounting, came to 11 cents per share. That was 7 cents higher than Wall Street expected, according to analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.

The company said revenue nearly doubled to $769.3 million. But that missed Wall Street's forecast of $801.9 million.

Tesla's shares rose 45 cents to $223.75 in after-hours trading. The stock has risen $87.75, or 65 per cent, in the last 12 months.

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