Elon Musk could have used Tesla third-quarter earnings to showboat. After months of commotion the electric carmaker produced an unexpected set of profitable results that exceeded all expectations. Shares rose 13% in after-hours trading. Yet the call with investors was so scripted and subdued that Tesla sounded like any other car company. Perhaps Musk’s settlement with regulators following an ill-fated attempt to take Tesla private is responsible. Hours earlier, Consumer Reports magazine put Tesla near the bottom of its reliability index, citing problems with suspension and door handles — just the sort of criticism that would usually get Musk’s blood boiling. Yet all the CEO wanted to focus on was vehicle safety, careful spending and capital efficiency, which has shored up cash reserves to almost $3bn. The figures do a good job of backing Musk’s claim that Tesla will not raise equity or debt in the near term. Higher margins on Model 3 vehicles (plus some accounts payable) helped gene...

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