The face of White addiction: Elon Musk just cost Tesla $4.6B

Elon Musk in Chicago

Efforts are also under way to recruit an executive to take some pressure off Mr Musk, the newspaper reported.

Tesla presents plenty of challenges for the top executive: It routinely loses money and is burning through cash as it ramps up development of its Model 3 sedan, a less-expensive electric auto it hopes appeals to the mass market. During the interview, journalists said Musk alternated between laughter and tears as he opened up about his busy work routine and recent controversies.

Musk told the Times he stands by the tweet.

The company said the board formed a special committee to evaluate proposals to take the company private. The board members are reportedly anxious that the inquiry, which is at an early stage, may turn into a full-blown investigation which could have a significant negative impact on the company's shares.

Electric auto maker Tesla's CEO Elon Musk gave the opening keynote, in March 2013, at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.

The hour-long phone interview with several Times reporters coincides with a Wall Street Journal report that said regulators began investigating past year whether Tesla misled investors about Model 3 auto production ー far before Musk sent his now infamous "funding secured" tweet, which has drawn new scrutiny from the SEC.

Tesla shares closed at $305.50, their lowest level since August 1, as analysts and business professors questioned whether the company's board should grant Musk a leave or even replace him with a more seasoned CEO.

Tesla has always been the most-shorted stock in the USA, according to data from the financial analytics from S3 partners, and that persistence has agitated Musk for some time.

The interview - during which The Times said Musk "alternated between laughter and tears" - comes amid the turmoil the Tesla chief triggered last week when he tweeted that he had secured funding to take the electric vehicle maker private. He sometimes relies on Ambien to sleep after long sessions of work, he said.

The subpoena signals regulators are investigating if Musk was telling the truth in his tweet about have financing locked up for a deal that analysts have estimated would require $25 billion to $50 billion. Some Tesla board members have voiced concerns about the extent of Musk's workload and following his tweet, the search to find an executive to take some of the pressure off of Musk has intensified.

Musk acknowledged that no one read his Twitter post before he sent it, but said he did not regret it.

If Tesla directors are anxious about Musk - and they should be - here is advice for them: Do your jobs.

"There were times when I didn't leave he factory for three or four days - days when I didn't go outside", he said. "Is there someone who can do the job better?" As far as the SEC is concerned, the question is whether Musk and others from the company's management misled shareholders about the cause of the delays or their extent. It later disclosed that Musk had talked with the Saudi Arabia government investment fund about the deal.

Two people described by the Times as familiar with the matter said Tesla's board members were angry at Musk for failing to consult with them before sending the tweet.

In the interview with The New York Times, Musk blamed short-sellers, from whom he said he anticipated "a few months of extreme torture".

Tesla produced 5,031 Model 3 electric cars in the last seven days of the second quarter, the company said in early July, meeting its long-elusive production target after several hiccups.

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