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06 January 2018, 01:46 | Ruben Fields
By almost every metric Tesla massively missed its super-aggressive production target of its Model 3 for the final quarter of 2017
Tesla's announcement "isn't much of a surprise" because of the automaker's previously known Model 3 production problems, but if the bottlenecks continue they could cause Tesla serious problems, said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds.com.
Despite making "major progress" addressing Model 3 production bottlenecks, the company has pushed back its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week to the end of the second quarter.
Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Ben Kallo said he sees Tesla having enough cash and additional liquidity sources to cover it through the revised 5,000-a-week schedule, meaning no capital raise will be required in the first half of this year. Of the 2,425 Model 3 vehicles produced in the fourth quarter, 793 of them (or almost 33%) were made in the last seven working days of the quarter, according to Tesla.
The more gradual ramp is so the company can "focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time", according to the release.
"Bears will point to this as another missed promise", said Joe Spak, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, in a note to clients Wednesday. The carmaker has been blowing through more than US$1 billion ($1.4b) a quarter as it's had trouble scaling up output despite spending heavily on robots, assembly lines and tooling for the sedan that is Musk's cheapest yet, starting at US$35,000. While a capital raise may not be required, Tesla lacks "a ton of wiggle room" and should seek more cash to mitigate risks, he wrote. Tesla delivered 103,082 cars in 2017, a 36% increase over 2016. Analysts' average estimate for the model 3 deliveries was about 2,900 units, according to a Bloomberg News survey.
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Customers who pre-ordered a Model 3 will have to keep on waiting.
Tesla also said it had delivered 15,200 Model S and 13,120 Model X luxury cars in the fourth quarter, a 9% increase over third-quarter deliveries. Analysts had expected total deliveries of about 30,000. A conventional auto factory operating at full speed on two shifts can churn out almost 1,000 vehicles a day. These include the construction of new factories, the buildup of the solar and battery business, and the introduction of new models, such as the Tesla Semi, Roadster and Model Y.
The Drive editor Alex Roy used Tesla's new Model 3 to drive from Redondo Beach, California to Manhattan, New York in 50 hours, 16 minutes, and 32 seconds.
For the entire past year, the shares of the NASDAQ-listed electric auto maker rose 45.70% following a 10.97% slump in 2016. These will be counted as deliveries in Q1 2018, Tesla said.
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