Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

Tesla pushes back Model 3 targets again after production miss

A Tesla Model S car is seen in a showroom in Santa Monica California US A Tesla Model S car is seen in a showroom in Santa Monica California US
Derrick Tucker | 06 January, 2018, 01:46

In the months leading up to launching the Model 3, Tesla raised at least $1.2 billion through an offering of stock and convertible debt in March and another $1.8 billion by tapping the junk-bond market in August. It had about $3.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of September 30. GM launched the auto in 2015, far ahead of the $35,000 Model 3, Tesla's first mass-market vehicle, and it seemed like no contest at the time.

In a statement Wednesday, Tesla thanked customers "who continue to stick by us while patiently waiting for their cars".

By nearly every metric, Tesla massively missed its super-aggressive production target of its Model 3 for the final quarter of 2017.

"Tesla vehicle deliveries represent only one measure of the company's financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles". But early versions of the Model 3 suffered battery quality problems, and it's not clear whether those have been sufficiently resolved.

Tesla has fallen short of Wall Street expectations by revealing that it delivered just 1550 examples of the Model 3 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Tesla initially intended on reaching this mark at the end of December.

Tesla said on Wednesday its production rate had increased significantly despite the delays.

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In a release on Wednesday afternoon, the company run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk said it plans to hit a milestone of making 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of the second quarter of this year. A conventional auto factory operating at full speed on two shifts can churn out almost 1,000 vehicles a day.

"We think there is even room to hold off returning to the capital markets if the new schedule goes slightly slower than expected", he said in an email. Tesla said in August it had about 500,000 reservations for the auto and demand was not a constraint.

For the entire past year, the shares of the NASDAQ-listed electric auto maker rose 45.70% following a 10.97% slump in 2016.

Tesla said it will have a more gradual ramp through the first quarter "to focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time". Among the issues Tesla faced was its battery module assembly line at its Nevada Gigafactory, which required a redesign.

Analysts have again expressed concern over whether Tesla can secure the gross margins on the cars it is aiming for, whether customers will still want the auto, and how slower production rates affect the company's other capital-intensive ambitions.

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