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Tesla’s mounting losses

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk just blasted the most powerful rocket into space, however Tesla’s losses are keeping the automaker grounded.

Tesla posted a record quarterly net loss of US$675 million in the fourth quarter, up from a net loss of US$121 million in the same period a year ago.

Production delays for its Model 3 sedan had Wall Street expecting the automaker to lose US$3.15 million a share in the fourth quarter.

However, Tesla’s adjusted fourth-quarter loss, of $3.04 per share, was ahead of Wall Street’s estimated loss of $3.15 per share.

The California-based automaker is struggling to meet production targets for its first mass-market car, the Model 3 sedan.

Tesla is also spending heavily on other vehicles in its future fleet, including a semi truck that’s supposed to go into production next year. 

Clement Thibault, a senior analyst with the web site Investing.com, discussed Musk’s latest fundraising efforts for The Boring Co., his new tunnel-drilling company: “He appears to be more eager to sell hats and flamethrowers rather than meeting previously stated production targets for Tesla vehicles.”

 

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Tesla’s all-electric truck soon to be revealed

Tesla plans to reveal an all-electric truck with a working range of 300-450km on 16 November.

The Tesla Semi has been semi-revealed in a preview shown during an interview with TED.

The Tesla Semi’s previous debut date was the 26 October, but Tesla boss Elon Musk delayed the official unveiling following production difficulties with the Model 3.

Musk is using the extra three weeks since the truck’s original October 26 reveal date to iron out ‘production bottlenecks’ on the Model 3 production line.

Musk first revealed an image of the lorry and gave details of its performance during an interview with academic media outlet TED in June.

He also announced the product on social media, describing it as ‘unreal’, but did not give any further details on its capabilities.

According to reports, Tesla is aiming to crack regional hauling in the US and is expected to have an advanced level of autonomy.

Musk claimed that the heavy-duty, long-range Semi is capable of the heaviest class of haulage permitted on US roads. 

He also stated that the vehicle will be able to produce greater torque than any truck currently on the road.

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Tesla delivers first Model 3’s

US car maker Tesla has delivered its first 30 Model 3 EVs on Saturday, all ordered by company employees. Chief executive Elon Musk told journalists at the event that the cut-price electric car had over half a million advance registrations.

Musk said building the car would be “quite a challenge”, adding that Tesla is “going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell.”

The Tesla founder earlier pledged to manufacture 500,000 Model 3 vehicles next year, a sixfold increase in production, meaning that buyers who ordered a car in the US now would likely not see it until the end of 2018.

Deliveries fell short of targets for the first half of this year, which Tesla attributed to production problems for the luxury Model S and Model X vehicles. Musk says the simpler design of the Model 3 will greatly reduce these potential assembly-line problems.

While the company’s share price has jumped 54 per cent since January, placing its market value above both Ford and GM, Tesla is yet to turn a profit. The launch of the Model 3 has cost over $2.7 billion so far, with Tesla twice returning to the capital market to seek funding.

The Model 3 will sell in New Zealand for $66,541, making it one of the cheapest new EVs on the market, with the first deliveries due to arrive in 2019. The car will have a driving range of 355km, with an upgraded 500km-ranged performance option to hit the market next year. 

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Tesla to start producing Model 3

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk has announced that production of the entry-level Model 3 EV would start this week.

“Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule,” he said on Twitter. “Expecting to complete SN1 [serial number 1] on Friday.”

Musk also said there would be a handover party for the first 30 Model 3 customers on July 28. Production is expected to grow exponentially, from 100 cars in August to 1500 cars in September.

“Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December,” he added.

Over 300,000 Model 3 EVs have already been pre-ordered, with prices starting at $48,000. Tesla has opened the order books in New Zealand, with local delivery set for mid-2018.  According to the Ministry of Transport, 168 Tesla EVs have been sold in New Zealand after the company officially launched earlier this year.

While Musk is talking up the arrival of the Model 3 later this year, production for the first six months of 2017 is on the lower end of Tesla’s forecasts. The car maker has delivered 47,100 EVs and SUVs so far this year, just scraping past first-half estimates of 47,000 to 50,000 units.

Tesla said a “severe shortfall” of new battery packs had hamstrung production until June, and deliveries of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV would be significantly higher in the second half of the year.

Shares fell 2.5 per cent to (US)$352.62 following the delivery figures. The company is now the most valuable car maker in the US, with a market value of $80 billion, but still trails behind Volkswagen, which has a market cap of $93.5 billion, and Toyota Motor Corp, which has a cap of $235 billion.

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No recall after Tesla death

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to today close a six-month-old investigation into the death of a Tesla driver using its semi-autonomous Autopilot system without seeking a recall, a source has told Reuters. The NHTSA did not find evidence of a defect that would have required a safety recall.

A written statement from Tesla said, “the safety of our customers comes first, and we appreciate the thoroughness of NHTSA’s report and its conclusion.” Tesla executives unveiled improvements to its Autopilot software in September and added new limits on hands-off driving. Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted these updates would likely have prevented the death of Joshua Brown in May 2016.

Tesla introduced the Autopilot after concerns arose that the system lulled users into a false sense of security through its hands-off driving capability. The updated system temporarily prevents drivers from using the system if they do not respond to audible warnings to take back control of the car.

The NHTSA report stated that drivers could be confused about whether the system or the driver is in control of the vehicle at certain times, and that its decision to close the investigation was not a result of the software improvements announced in September.

In July, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said its preliminary findings showed Brown’s Tesla Model S was travelling at 119 km per hour in a 104 km per hour zone when it struck a truck in Florida during a fine day. The NHTSA investigation found that Brown did not apply the brakes, and his last action was to set the cruise control at 119 km per hour two minutes prior to the crash.

The report concluded that he “should have been able to take some action before the crash, like braking, steering or attempting to avoid the vehicle. He took none of those actions.” According to Reuters, Brown’s lawyer has said that the family will consider the full government report before deciding on further action.

The Tesla Model S will be available in New Zealand in early 2017, with a launch date yet to be announced.

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Tesla doing business with SolarCity

Tesla shareholders have voted in favor of acquiring SolarCity Corp, the United States’ largest solar panel installer.

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