Q&A: Elon Musk, Tesla and the Saudi connection

<i>Image: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP</i>
<i>Image: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP</i>
NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP

For eight years, since 2010, the electric car maker Tesla has enjoyed robust growth, even though it has never turned an annual profit. Today, the company is valued at between $60bn and $70bn. 

For the company's investors, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk is a visionary whose electric car is giving us a glimpse into the future that successfully integrates clean energy with transport and home power. But the company produces only a fraction of the cars that close competitors Ford, General Motors and others produce.

Tesla on the verge of profitability

In recent months, it has been beset by recalls, a Security and Exchange Commision investigation and, most recently, a pair of tweets by Musk that have left shareholders and critics wondering if Tesla is on the verge of profitability or if the car maker meets technology innovator is in a bubble.

READ: Tesla's Musk says stress, overwork taking heavy toll

In early August, the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund had quietly been building a 4.5% - 4.6% stake in Tesla.

Within half an hour, Musk took to Twitter, saying he was considering a leveraged buyout that would take Tesla private. Days later, her reassured shareholders that the company would remain public, for the time being.

In this week's Counting the Cost, Al Jazeera asks Arash Massoudi, the Financial Times editor who broke the story of Saudi Arabia's stake in Tesla, what may have been behind Musk's tweets and earlier hints that his company was poised to organise one of the biggest leveraged buy-outs in history.

Editor's note: the following interview has been edited for brevity. 

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