Tesla Has "Most Productive Quarter" In History, Builds 34494 Vehicles

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Fresh off the worst month for Tesla shares in more than seven years, the company reported a rate of Model 3 sedan production that again fell short of its forecast, while standing by the next target for its debut mass-market vehicle.

The company had planned to be producing 20,000 Model 3s a month by December 2017, but in a disappointing Q4 it shipped only 1,542.

Shares of Tesla climbed more than 5% on Tuesday after the company said that the production of its Model 3 cars had gone up to about 10,000 since the beginning of 2018. Mounting liquidity pressures and challenges with the Model 3 prompted Moody's Investors Service last week to cut the carmaker's credit rating further into junk status, adding fuel to a selloff of the company's bonds to all-time lows.

Musk emailed factory staff at 3:02 a.m. and promised that Tesla would build at least 2,000 Model 3's a week during the second quarter ending in June.

Separately, CNN reported that Tesla will voluntarily recall about 123,000 Model S sedans due to problems with the luxury sedan's power steering, and a class-action lawsuit against Musk and Tesla's board of directors over the company's acquisition of a solar panel company is set to proceed after a judge in DE refused to dismiss it. The previous production target of 2,500 a week is easily forgotten. Tesla shares are trading at $274 apiece Wednesday morning. However, Tesla said that it was able to increase its weekly production rate from 793 units in the final seven days of 2017 to 2020 units over the last week, as it swiftly addressed production and supply chain bottlenecks over the quarter.

The real takeaway from the report is that unlike some of Musk's other notable successes, the auto industry may not have been as ripe for disruption as Tesla would have hoped.

The serial entrepreneur also eased investors' concerns over the company's mounting cash burn with news that it will not need another equity or debt raise this year, apart from standard credit lines. According to Jefferies, there is a "high probability that management and the (Tesla) Board will take more drastic action on guidance and funding to restore credibility" after the company releases its Q1 2018 production numbers. What took our team five years for S/X, took only nine months for Model 3.

Tesla declined to give production figures for the week to March 31.

While he said the 2,000-plus vehicles Tesla produced last week was a "great accomplishment", he said he doesn't "see any reason to suggest that they're out of the woods either". Tesla shares opened up as much as 6.9 percent and gained 2.2 percent to $258.11 as of 9:47 a.m., regaining some ground after a 22 percent slump in March.

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