The vision is appealing, but in the short run it looks challenging. Tesla may have surprised investors by turning a narrow — and rare — profit in the third quarter, but the vast bulk of its current $28 billion market capitalization is predicated on Mr. Musk’s turning the company from a niche supplier into a truly mass manufacturer of electric vehicles. Tesla’s shares have fallen about 16 percent since the company unveiled its SolarCity bid in June, reducing the value of the all-stock deal to around $2 billion.
Hitting a self-imposed target of cranking out 500,000 cars per year by 2018, from a current run rate of around 100,000, already looked daunting. Tesla, after all, has a history of missing production and sales targets; its Model X S.U.V., for example, was delayed by problems with its falcon-wing doors.
Now Mr. Musk and his team also have a major acquisition to worry about. Throw in his continued role as chief executive of the rocket venture SpaceX, and he has a lot up in the air. Moreover, to deliver on its promises, Tesla will probably need to ask investors for fresh capital at some point next year.
For most chief executives, all this would make 2017 a make-or-break year. But Tesla investors’ overwhelming support of the SolarCity deal suggests that Mr. Musk is in a different category. Even if the wheels start to come off, he will probably be able to persuade the faithful to keep him in place and to hand over more cash. That may make Mr. Musk’s all-electric vision a self-fulfilling prophecy, no matter the cost.