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Musk to sack 9% Tesla staff, 'won't hit ambitious project'

NEW YORK: Electric carmaker Tesla Motors announced Tuesday it was cutting nine percent of its workforce to enhance profitability but said the move would not affect an ambitious production ramp-up of its Model 3 sedan.

The job cuts are part of a company-wide restructuring to address excess staff in some areas due to the company's speedy growth, Tesla chief Elon Musk said in an email to employees.

The cuts concern salaried staff but not production workers and will not affect Model 3 output targets, said Musk, who characterized the downsizing as an acknowledgement of the need to focus more on costs.

"Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us," Musk said in the message. "What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable," Musk added.

"That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla's history to date."

Musk has at times clashed with Wall Street analysts over an aggressive cash burn rate that has fed skepticism over whether the company can reach its goals.

But others view the charismatic Tesla chief as a visionary, sometimes comparing him to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

Shares of Tesla rose 2.8 percent in afternoon trading to $341.01 on Tuesday.

Shares had also risen Monday after Musk said on Twitter the company's updated Autopilot software coming in August would enable "full self-driving features." The company's stock is up about 15 percent since June 5, when Musk expressed confidence that the company would meet a goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of June. Tesla had previously missed some key Model 3 targets.

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