With pressure escalating during one of the worst weeks in its almost 15-year-history, Tesla Inc. raced to manufacture and deliver as many Model 3 sedans as it could to report to rattled investors. The carmaker still probably came up short.
Tesla’s Fremont, California, delivery hub was packed with people Saturday evening as the last hours of the quarter drew to a close. Red couches and tall white tables were set up outside, a DJ played music and a truck selling Vietnamese food was on hand. Behind the scenes, a company that’s struggled to figure out how to mass manufacture cars had implored workers to get production on track and disprove their doubters.
But the skeptics are getting louder after the last few days. The electric-car maker led by Elon Musk has come under regulatory scrutiny for the second crash this year involving Tesla’s driver-assistance system Autopilot, the latest of which resulted in a fatality. Moody’s Investors Service last week downgraded the company’s credit rating further into junk, saying production problems and mounting obligations could necessitate a more than $2 billion capital raise soon to avoid running out of cash. Tesla shares plunged as much as 5.7 percent in early trading Monday.
“It’s about the magnitude of the miss,” Philippe Houchois, a Jefferies Group LLC who rates the shares a hold, wrote in a report to clients Monday. Tesla probably fell short of a first-quarter consensus estimate of 10,000 Model 3 deliveries and may have trailed its target to end March making the sedan at 2,500-unit weekly rate, he said.
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