Tesla builds 9766 Model 3 in Q1, missing Musk's target

Anna Jefferson
April 5, 2018

Tesla has announced that it produced 34,494 vehicles in the first quarter of this year, which is a 40% increase from Q4 2017 and by far the most productive quarter ever for Tesla.

The electric-car maker said it made 2,020 Model 3s in the past seven days, which falls short of its weekly target of 2,500.

When Tesla launched the Model 3 last summer, CEO Elon Musk warned his factory workers that the race to scale up its manufacturing capacity and meet massive demand for the most anticipated auto ever would plunge them into "production hell".

Incidentally, Tesla released its production figures for the recent March quarter and Model 3 production, while not where Tesla claimed it would be, was higher than some analysts were anticipating. Then, Tesla expects things to really start picking up in the third quarter, when we should see high volumes, solid gross margin, and strong positive operating cash flow.

Most notably, Tesla said it "does not require" any additional capital in 2018 through a sale of stock or issuance of debt.

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On Sunday, Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted April Fools' Day jokes about Tesla going bankrupt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tesla-bankrupt-elon-musk-cracks-jokes-after-worst-month-in-7-years-2018-04-01).

This story will be updated. That's just a bit short of the 2,500 a week Musk was aiming for by this point, and it was only for one week of the quarter, but it's a large improvement over earlier efforts.

Tesla also confirmed that nearly all Model 3 cancellations have been the result of delays. The company's stock price has dropped by more than a quarter over the past three weeks, according to a WikiTribune analysis. Among customers who have received a Model 3, Tesla said satisfaction is very high, and that the number of reservations has remained stable despite the long wait some customers are experiencing.

Tesla is producing about 2,000 of its Model 3 sedans a week.

Musk's image of his Teslaquila bottle comes amid Tesla's apparent rebound in the stock market after the release of the company's Q1 2018 production and deliveries report.

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Q1 deliveries totaled 29,980 vehicles, of which 11,730 were Model S, 10,070 were Model X, and 8,180 were Model 3.

So what are investors to believe of Tesla's latest pronouncement that it's now broken the 2 000-per-week barrier-itself lower than Tesla's 2 500-per-week forecast-on the way to 5 000-perweek in the next three months?

So with Model S and X sales down 23.3%, what was that statement from Tesla on February 21 worth? Even if Tesla is able to reach its first-quarter production target, it's not clear whether the company will be able to sustain and build off of it.

Musk also spoke of how he had trusted Doug, but now the policy had to be changed in order to benefit the company.

Meanwhile, investors raised their bets against Tesla shares by 10 per cent since mid-March, according to data provided by S3 Partners LLC on Tuesday, betting the market has misjudged the electric vehicle maker's prospects.

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Tesla's partner, Panasonic, has more than 300 workers producing solar panels and cells at the Buffalo factory, but Tesla has been much slower to add employees for its part of the factory, where it will focus on a new solar roof that looks like a conventional house roof but has solar cells inside.

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