I don't think Tesla will collapse soon. They're in a risky position, but I don't think it's dire.
John Thompson, the hedge fund manager referenced in the article you linked to, holds a large short position in Tesla and has for years. I'm sure he believes Tesla will fail or he wouldn't have bet his fund's money against it so many years ago, but it's important to remember that he literally has a vested interest in convincing people Tesla will fail. Take what he says with large grains of salt.
I'm not a finance expert, but my understanding of Tesla's current situation is this:
- Over the years, Tesla has taken on a lot of debt. But not because they were in financial trouble. They took on debt in order to build out their factories and manufacturing capabilities without depleting their cash reserves. Instead of having debt and no cash, they now have debt, cash, and significant assets that they bought with that debt.
- Tesla actually has a lot of cash coming in from sales. Not enough to cover their expenses, but the deficit is mostly due to their capital expenditures. If they were to stop building gigafactories and service centers and superchargers and tighten the belt a little, they could probably turn a profit even without a big increase in sales.
- The Model 3 production ramp has been slower than expected, but it's finally starting to happen. And the number of people who've put down a $1,000 deposit on a Model 3 is over half a million and still growing. That's a lot of people who want to buy new Teslas (full disclosure: I'm one of them).
- Tesla has an incredibly loyal customer base. Tesla owners love their cars and many buy several of them.
- It looks like Tesla is about to successfully break into the trucking industry, which could be huge for them. Dozens of companies have already preordered hundreds of Tesla Semis.
- Cars aren't Tesla's only revenue stream. They've also had success recently with infrastructure projects like their giant powerpack that helps reduce power costs in South Australia. This seems to be another promising new market for them.
That said, Tesla does like to take big risks, and they're operating pretty close to the danger zone. If most things go well, they'll be fine, but if a few things go horribly wrong, they could be in a bad place.
Even if the worst happens, though, Tesla's products, customers, employees, and infrastructure are so valuable that I doubt they'd have much trouble finding emergency capital or, in the worst case, a buyer.
Elon Musk is bold, but he's not dumb. So far, betting against him has been a bad idea. Someday it might pay off, but I don't think we're there yet.