The Future of Tesla Revealed: Elon Musk's Electric Car Company Will Close Stores and Only Sell Vehicles Online

Elon Musk's Tesla has announced changes to how customers buy vehicles, moving to an online-only system in an attempt to lower the cost of its electric cars.

The company, which is battling for profitability, said yesterday that a $35,000 Model 3 was now available, with its reduced price made possible due to the closure of brick-and-mortar retail stores. In an earnings call, Musk said profits were unlikely for Q1 this year, Bloomberg reported.

It remains unclear just how many of the retail stores will close and how many employees will be out of work. Spending on sales and marketing reportedly will also be slashed. Without confirming numbers, Musk conceded on the call there would be job losses, The Verge reported.

"Over the next few months, we will be winding down many of our stores, with a small number of stores in high-traffic locations remaining as galleries, showcases and Tesla information centers," a company blog post read. "The important thing for customers in the United States to understand is that with online sales, anyone in any state can quickly and easily buy a Tesla."

Tesla said customers who were not satisfied with an online purchase could choose to return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. The firm touted its system as quick and easy.

It said: "You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about one minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn't needed…you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free."

The blog post noted the shift to internet-only allows the company to achieve its promised $35,000 Model 3 price point earlier than expected. The firm said the Tesla service system will see increased investment and announced additional firmware upgrades for some vehicles.

In a 2018 Twitter post, Musk confirmed that Tesla would undergo a "difficult but necessary" reorganization that would see approximately 9 percent of employees losing their jobs.

He said this week that Tesla now expects to produce between 420,000 and 600,000 electric vehicles this year, and assured investors that profits were on the horizon, Bloomberg reported.

"Given that there was just a lot happening in Q1, and we're taking a lot of one-time charges and there are a lot of challenges getting cars to China and Europe, we do not expect to be profitable in Q1," Musk said. "But we do think that profitability in Q2 is likely."

Tesla made 120,000 vehicles total in 2017, which was boosted to 350,000 in 2018, Quartz reported. Bloomberg reported the firm has produced 212,894 Model 3s to date. The $35,000 Model 3 boasts 220 miles of range, a top speed of 130 miles per hour and 0-60 acceleration of 5.6 seconds.