Is Tesla ramping up or bogging down?
Tesla stands by its goal of 5,000 deliveries by the end of 2012, and VP George Blankenship insisted that all is going according to plan.
As with all things EV, the answer depends on whom you ask. The Silicon Valley startup’s stock (Nasdaq: TSLA) screeched into reverse last week after the company reported a massive quarterly loss associated with the expense of moving into full-scale production mode, and analysts speculated that a new round of funding may be necessary. Cooler heads seem to be prevailing this week, as Tesla shares regained much of the loss on Monday and Tuesday. Nothing new here – risky startups like TSLA routinely drop 10 or 20 percent on the least hint of bad news.
Also contributing to investor angst is the fact that the company is building a mere 10 cars a week, while it says that over 12,200 buyers have put down deposits on the new Model S. One might think that having more orders than you can fill would be a good problem to have, but in fact, many a young company has perished because of not being able to get its product in the stores quickly enough to meet demand.
Of course, unlike a Model S, even the most high-tech auto assembly line can’t be punched to cruising speed in 4.4 seconds, and it’s probably prudent to accelerate slowly, making sure that every unit comes up to quality standards – even a couple of malfunctioning motorcars would be far more damaging than a few thousand impatient buyers. In a blog post last Thursday, VP George Blankenship insisted that all is going according to plan:
"Our Fremont factory ramp up is progressing very well. Our focus on quality has paid off as we moved from building three cars per week, to five cars per week, to ten cars per week. We have now produced 50 cars that received unanimous signoff from Elon and the entire quality team. Some are being enjoyed by reservation holders at Get Amped Model S Tour test drive events, a couple are being used by our Service and Engineering teams, and we have 29 that are either already in the hands of their new owners or on their way via Tesla Personal Delivery…We have produced 50 cars to date and our plan is to double that number in the next two to three weeks. Production will then continue to escalate even more significantly every two to three weeks thereafter."
Tesla stands by its goal of 5,000 deliveries by the end of 2012, and 10,000 or more next year.
Mr. Blankenship also noted that Tesla had temporarily eliminated a couple of interior lights from the Model S. “The original beta Lighted Vanity Mirrors on the front sun visors were simply not acceptable to us from an appearance, function or size standpoint, so we rejected them and immediately started working on another solution…We [also removed] the Second Row Reading Lights…because we were working on another initiative that might impact what type of light we could use. Basically, we found a way to potentially add a few millimeters of additional headroom in the back seat.”