For Tesla, 'production hell' looks like the reality of the auto business

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"While the company's language is perhaps a little softer, in terms of absolute targets, it seems that Tesla is still roughly on track for its mid-year guidance despite Q1's challenges and shortfalls", Galliers said. 4,060 Model S and X vehicles were on their way to customers at the end of Q1, which was 68% higher than at the end of Q4 2017.

The company is counting on the success of the new offering, the Model 3, to increase revenue and help pare its losses as Tesla invests heavily in the vehicles it hopes to offer in the future.

CEO Elon Musk was lambasted by Wall Street analysts over the weekend for an April Fools' Day prank he posted on Twitter showing himself passed out, leaning up against a Model 3 sedan and holding a handwritten cardboard sign reading "bankwupt!". Tesla's goal for the quarter was to produce not less than 2,500 Model 3s every week and implemented some remarkable measures in its quest to hit that target.

The company led by Elon Musk built 2,020 Model 3 cars in the last seven days, trailing its target for a 2,500-unit rate for the final week of March.

Tesla says Model 3 production will "climb rapidly" in the coming three months. Achieving this production rate could allow Tesla to improve gross margins and operating cash flows significantly. The company, according to Bloomberg, which has been tacking Model 3's production rate, has been assembling about 1,276 units a week for the last couple of weeks.


If you want to add plug-in hybrids into the mix, Model 3 even beats the Toyota Prius Prime, which is now the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle in the U.S. with 6,468 units during the first 3 months of the year.

However the piece of data most investors are actually looking for are the Model 3 specific production numbers.

Increasing Model 3 production is important for the Silicon Valley electric carmaker, whose profitability is tied to the cheaper auto.

Bloomberg News' experimental tracking model estimates that Tesla built about 9,285 Model 3s for the first quarter, or about 774 a week.

It's bad news bears for Tesla. At the end of yesterday's market close, Tesla's stock stood at $267.53, up almost 6 percent over the previous day's close. Tesla's production forecasts have been over-optimistic and generally lowered and delayed over time. That is equal to the amount of cash and available unused credit Tesla had at the start of this year. JPMorgan's Shawn Quigg advised clients to use some of the profits on the TSLA sale to "purchase Tesla June 100 strike puts for $2.01, indicatively ($252.48 reference price), as we believe the market is underpricing Tesla tail risk".

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