Tesla Misses Model 3 EV Production Goal, But Investors’ Nerves Are Finally Calmed

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After getting off to a rocky start with Model 3 production, Tesla is starting to show some signs of stability and is increasing its output at a steady clip. The company announced this week that it produced 9,766 Model 3 electric vehicles during the opening three months of 2018. That's not counting the Model S and Model X, which added another 23,768 units to that tally, bringing Tesla's total output for the quarter at 34,494 units (a 40 percent increase from Q4 2017).

Putting those numbers more into perspective, Tesla said that it produced 2020 Model 3s during the past week. Over the next week, it hopes to stabilize production at 2,000 Model 3s along with a mix of 2,000 [more expensive] Model S and Model X. Even at the 2,000 per week rate for the Model 3, it is still short of Tesla's [revised] goal of 2,500 units per week that it hoped to achieve by the end of March.

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These numbers still pale in comparison to Tesla CEO Elon Musk's fanciful production goals that were set back during the summer of 2017. Musk proudly proclaimed that Tesla would produce 100 Model 3s in August, and ramp to 1,500 per month in September. By the time December 2017 rolled around, Musk claimed that Tesla would produce 30,000 Model 3s per month. Well, as we can clearly see, that never panned out...

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"Tesla continues to target a production rate of approximately 5,000 units per week in about three months, laying the groundwork for Q3 to have the long-sought ideal combination of high volume, good gross margin and strong positive operating cash flow," said the company in an investor note. "As a result, Tesla does not require an equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines."

The Model 3 production update along with Tesla's positive outlook on cash flow was enough to calm the fears of investors. TSLA was trading as high as $345 on March 12th, but tumbled to as low as $252 earlier this week following a string of bad news for the company (including the fact that Autopilot was engaged during a fatal Model X accident). Shares rebounded nearly 6 percent today, closing at $267.

The Model 3 has a base price of $35,000, which will get you a vehicle with a 220-mile range, can hit 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, and will reach a top speed of 130 mph. The Long-Range model starts at $44,000 and has a driving range of 310 miles. It can dash from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 140 mph. However, piling on options like paint (only black is standard), Autopilot, 19-inch wheels and upgraded interior furnishings will push the final price of the vehicle to nearly $60,000.