A meandering earnings call for Tesla’s first-quarter financial results included some glimpses of the electric automaker’s timeline for future products and pledges of profitability. Company CEO Elon Musk, however, also got testy with some analysts’ questions.
Shown above, a Tesla Model 3.
For the Tesla Model 3, Musk said he’s confident Tesla will “very soon” exceed the 3000-per-week production mark at its Fremont, California, plant. In its letter to investors preceding the call, Tesla said it produced 2000 Model 3 cars for three straight weeks prior to a planned shutdown in mid-April and that it hit 2270 units built in the last of those weeks. The company continues to target a production rate of 5000 units per week in about two months. “After achieving a production rate of 5000 per week, we will begin offering new options such as all-wheel drive and the base model with a standard-sized battery pack,” Tesla said in its note to investors.
In the meantime, orders have slowly been fulfilled for a waiting list of some 450,000 reservation holders. At least one analyst has wonderedwhether some early customers on the waiting list are passing on the initial Model 3s to wait for later configurations. Musk was asked in the conference call if he could give the percentage of reservation holders choosing to configure the cars, but after a long pause, he didn’t answer the question. “We’re going to go to YouTube,” he said instead, referencing a question coming from a Tesla-focused channel on the video platform. “Sorry. These questions are so dry-they’re killing me.”
Musk also revealed that the Model Y, Tesla’s yet-to-be-revealed, Model 3–based crossover, is still about two years from mass production. “I would say it’s probably closer to 24 months from now,” Musk said. “So 2020 is a more likely prospect for Model Y.”
Tesla still needs to find a place to build the electric crossover, and Musk said Fremont is currently out of the question. “We’re really crowded here at Fremont. I don’t know where we’re putting the Model Y production,” he said. The company will decide on a production location for the Model Y by the fourth quarter of this year, he added.
Musk said Tesla expects to announce soon the location of a Gigafactory in China. It’s not clear if the Model Y would be assembled there, but it seems likely that at least some Tesla vehicles will be. “In the future, all Gigafactories will include vehicle production,” Musk said.
Tesla’s revenue grew 26 percent in the first quarter to $3.4 billion, but the chronically unprofitable company’s net loss grew to $784.6 million, compared with $397.2 million a year ago. Musk said that as Model 3 production increases, so too should the company’s profitability. “I’m feeling quite confident about achieving GAAP net income and positive cash flow in Q3,” Musk said in the earnings call. “This is not, you know, a certainty. But it does appear quite, quite likely, in my view.”
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