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Tesla's aggressive new production goals are 'mission impossible': AutoNation CEO

The latest ramped-up production goals from Tesla Motors this week are "between audacious and preposterous" based on the electric automaker's past forecasts, AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson said Friday.

Jackson is not alone in this feeling.

Many Wall Street analysts doubt Tesla can even come close to its new target of 500,000 vehicles in 2018, which is two years ahead of previous projections and 10 times the number sold last year.

"Here we have a company that has missed every launch ... and every production commitment, significantly," Jackson told CNBC's "Squawk Box," calling what Tesla says it's going to do, "mission impossible."

During this week's earnings conference call with analysts, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said strong demand for the upcoming, cheaper Model 3 is driving the company's new production plan.

"Let's do the math. For them to get there, they would have to launch the car in 2017, the Model 3, significantly. It would have to be in the market, in volume by July [2017]," estimated Jackson, who runs the nation's largest dealership chain.

Musk said he sees Model 3 production of 100,000 to 200,000 in late 2017.

With great fanfare, Tesla unveiled the Model 3 at the end of March — saying the car will go into production in 2017, at the starting price of $35,000. Preorders topped 400,000 last month.

A Tesla Model 3 sedan, its first car aimed at the mass market, is displayed during its launch in Hawthorne, California, March 31, 2016.
Joe White | Reuters
A Tesla Model 3 sedan, its first car aimed at the mass market, is displayed during its launch in Hawthorne, California, March 31, 2016.

Musk also said on last week's conference call that 1 million vehicles in annual production by 2020 would be his "best guess."

In recent years, Jackson has been complimentary of the vehicles made by Tesla, which thus far include the Model S sedan and the Model X sport utility vehicle, which start at around $76,500 and $83,000, respectively.

In 2014 on "Squawk Box," Jackson stuck up for Tesla, saying it should not have to modify its practice of selling its electric cars directly to consumers in company-owned showrooms to mollify state governments, which want cars sold through dealerships.

Jackson also said at the time he'd sell Tesla vehicles if given the chance.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

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