Industry observers say Tesla's grand plan to launch the Model S is fraught with challenges.
"They want to scale up production from 1,000 cars a year to 20,000 cars a year, [and] that's going to be a very hard trick for them to do," said Alex Taylor, a veteran auto industry analyst and writer. "They want to make most of their own parts; Detroit can't do that because it's too inefficient. And Tesla wants to own its own dealerships. Henry Ford tried that back in the 1920s and gave it up because it was too difficult."
O'Connell said the SEC filings present worst case scenarios. He said the company, and its major investors, believe the risk will reap rewards.
"It is a risky venture in the best heritage of some of the other great companies that have grown up in the Silicon Valley," he said. "This is a place where people propose ideas, finance those ideas, achieve milestones, attract a greater finance, and succeed along the way."