May 06, 2016

    Tesla to put foot on the gas to rev up Model 3 production

    TESLA Motors said it was stepping up production plans for its upcoming Model 3 mass-market sedan and would build a total of 500,000 all-electric vehicles in 2018, two years ahead of schedule.

    But it warned that spending will ramp up in tandem.

    The company, which three months ago aimed to make a net profit in the final quarter of this year, gave no profit target on Wednesday.

    But it said capital spending would rise about 50 per cent more than previously forecast this year, to around US$2.25 billion (S$3 billion).

    Tesla, which produces the luxury Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle (SUV), aims to become a high-volume automaker in a matter of years. It is already valued on a par with some of the biggest car companies in the world.

    Tesla reported a wider first-quarter net loss although results broadly beat Wall Street targets. It also said it was on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 electric vehicles this year, as it accelerated its target for Model 3 output.

    Tigress Financial Partners analyst Ivan Feinseth, who rates Tesla shares as "neutral", said growing pains were to be expected while Tesla ramps up but noted that the company's cars were "close to perfect".

    The Model 3 sedan, set to go into production late next year, has generated massive interest since its unveiling on March 31.

    Some analysts have questioned Tesla's ability to smoothly and quickly transition to higher-volume production, given the rocky start for its Model X.

    The technology-heavy SUV faced problems including parts shortages and quality issues, such as non-fastening doors.[ ]