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Tesla accelerates production plans

International Business
Fri, 06 May 2016

Detroit: Electric car maker Tesla Motors brushed off a big first-quarter loss and cheered investors with news that it plans to accelerate its production.

Tesla’s loss rose 84 per cent to $282 million in the first quarter as it struggled with parts delays for its new Model X SUV. The company’s stock-based compensation costs also more than doubled during the quarter to nearly $90m.

The loss, of $2.13 per share, far exceeded Wall Street’s forecasts. Analysts expected a loss of 87 cents per share.

First-quarter revenue rose 22pc to $1.1 billion. The company said Model X prices – which start around $80,000 – were about 30pc higher than for the Model S.

The company said it is pushing ahead with its plan to make 500,000 vehicles per year to 2018, two years earlier than scheduled. That’s up from 50,000 vehicles in 2015.

Tesla said it remains on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles this year after resolving the Model X production issues. It also reaffirmed that production of the lower-cost Model 3 car will start in 2017. Tesla has set July 1, 2017, to start production of the Model 3 and wants to make 100,000 to 200,000 cars in the second half of the year.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, who has a desk and a sleeping bag at the company’s Fremont, California, factory, said he celebrated the first flawless production of a Model X at 3am last Friday – eight months after the company started deliveries to customers.

He stressed that the Model X – with its gull-wing doors and free-standing rear seats – is much more complicated than the Model 3, so industry watchers shouldn’t assume the company will have similar production problems. Tesla also will be tougher on suppliers who can’t meet its deadlines, he said.

Tesla unveiled the Model 3 on March 31. With a starting price of around $35,000, it will be the most affordable car in the company’s 13-year history. Tesla said more than 325,000 people put down a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car in the first week after the unveiling. 

Musk also called for manufacturing experts to join the company. The plea came as Tesla confirmed that its vice presidents of manufacturing and production are both leaving the company. 

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