- "If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.
- Musk was referring to SpaceX's successful Falcon Heavy launch on Tuesday, which included a 2008 Tesla Roadster as its payload.
- Tesla struggled to produce the Model 3 in 2017, but said it aims to increase its production rate to 5,000 vehicles per week by the end of the second quarter.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's space exploration company, SpaceX, launched its Falcon Heavy rocket on Tuesday. The rocket was SpaceX's largest to date and the largest launched in the United States since the 1970s, and Musk repeatedly warned about the potential for failure before the launch.
But the launch went off without a hitch, leaving Musk feeling confident heading into Tesla's fourth-quarter earnings call.
"If we can send a Roadster to the asteroid belt, we can probably solve Model 3 production," he said during the call, referring to the 2008 Tesla Roadster that was included as the rocket's payload. SpaceX posted a livestream of the Roadster's journey toward Mars, which turned the launch into the world's best car commercial.
But here on Earth, Tesla is still struggling to produce the Model 3, its first mass-market electric car.
At one point, Musk said the company would be producing 20,000 Model 3 vehicles per month by December 2017, but it ended up delivering just over 1,500 Model 3 vehicles during the entire fourth quarter. The company hopes to increase its production rate to 2,500 per week by the end of the first quarter and 5,000 per week by the end of the second quarter, so it has plenty of work to do to reach those goals.
A CNBC report on January 25 included accounts from Tesla employees who claimed the company was making parts of the Model 3 batteries by hand with inexperienced workers in its Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Tesla called the report "extremely misinformed and misleading" in an email to Business Insider.
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