Tesla Pushes Back Model 3 Manufacturing Forecast, Again

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In the entire fourth quarter of past year.

Tesla is burning billions in cash as it struggles to achieve its vision of mass-market electric cars powered by Tesla-brand solar roofs through Tesla-brand home storage batteries. What's more, Tesla said that it saw an appreciable increase in Model 3 production rates towards the end of 2017.

The company said another 2,520 Model S and X vehicles and 860 Model 3 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter.

Tesla delayed its production target for its new Model 3 sedan for the second time on Wednesday, disappointing investors even as it claimed "major progress" overcoming manufacturing challenges that have hampered the vehicle's rollout. "The company has now said it is focused on quality versus volume, which is the right focus".

The successful launch of the Model 3 is crucial to stemming Tesla's cash burn, which hit a record $1.4 billion in the third quarter, said J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman in a note sent Thursday.

The company said it delivered a total of 29,870 vehicles in the fourth quarter, including 15,200 Model S and 13,120 Model X cars.

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Initially, Tesla planned to roll out 5,000 Model 3s weekly by the end of the fourth quarter of 2017.

Tesla said on Wednesday its production rate had increased significantly despite the delays.

The Elon Musk-led company now expects to assemble 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of June, delaying plans to reach that milestone by another three months. Cowen's Osborne wrote in a report to clients Wednesday that the carmaker may need to raise more capital again in the next three to six months. A conventional auto factory operating at full speed on two shifts can churn out almost 1,000 vehicles a day.

The Model 3 is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom in 2019. Tesla said in August it had about 500,000 reservations for the vehicle and demand was not a constraint.

"With absolute Model 3 sales tracking behind expectations and Model 3 gross margin improvement likely to be pushed out until production reaches greater scale, the expected cash tailwind from Model 3 will take longer to manifest itself than was anticipated", Evercore ISI analyst George Galliers said in a note. After selecting the Model S Sedan with a 100 kWh battery, Tesla's trip planner tells me the 12-hour trip will be broken up by a 20 minute charge in Bourges, a 25 minute pit stop in Clermont-Ferrand, a 40 minute charge in Albaret-Sainte-Marie and then one last 40-minute top-up in Narbonne before hopping over the border to Barcelona.

Tesla shares were down at $313.02 in afternoon trading.

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