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  1. For the past couple of years, Tesla has been offering an $8,000 "full self-driving" feature for their Autopilot system. But you couldn't use this feature as Tesla had not yet activated this feature. Basically, you were buying a system that Tesla promised would come online sometime in the near future. But that is not happening as Tesla has pulled the option for the time being. Last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted the option has been taken off due to it causing "too much confusion". Since Tesla began offering the option in October 2016, the company has seen a number of top managers and engineers leave the Autopilot program. A number of owners who paid for the $8,000 option have filed a class-action lawsuit, "alleging they were deceived into buying a feature that didn’t exist." However, this feature isn't going away. Bloomberg obtained an internal email where Musk told employees they needed about 100 more people to join an internal testing program that is linked to full self-driving feature. Source: Bloomberg
  2. Tesla finds itself without a chairman of the board as Elon Musk has stepped down due to a settlement with Securities and Exchange Commission. A possible replacement for Musk could be James Murdoch, chief executive of 21st Century Fox and a member of Tesla's board according to a report from the Financial Times. The SEC is wanting the next chairperson to be independent and not beholden to Musk. Murdoch is the closest thing as he has more financial independence than another candidate, Antonio Gracias. The FT report says Gracias' venture capital firm, Valor Equity Partners was an early investor into Tesla, though it had sold its shares when Tesla had its IPO. Gracias is also a stakeholder in Musk's SpaceX, which clouds his independence. That isn't to say Murdoch's independence is clear either as he is friends with Musk, and has sided with him on a number of decisions. Sources tell the FT that Tesla is also looking outside of the company for a possible replacement. Tesla didn't respond for comment, but Elon Musk took to Twitter last night to respond. "This is incorrect," he wrote. Source: Financial Times (Subscription Required), Bloomberg
  3. In a deal announced late Saturday between Tesla and the Securities and Exchange Commission, Elon Musk will be stepping down as Chairman of Tesla Motors and barred from holding that position for 3 years. Additionally, Musk and Tesla will pay $20 million in fines each. As part of the settlement, Tesla will add two additional board members and more closely monitor Mr. Musk's public communications. Neither Tesla nor Mr. Musk admit wrongdoing as part of this agreement. The settlement comes as a surprise as apparently Musk had rejected a similar deal earlier this week. The settlement stems from a lawsuit filed by the SEC against Musk and Tesla over an August 7th tweet by Mr. Musk that "funding is secured" to take Tesla private. Federal investigators found that the deal referred to in the tweet was still in the early stages and thus was considered deceptive to investors. Update: Musk will stay on as CEO. Resigning only as Chairman of the Board.
  4. Late Thursday afternoon saw a massive bombshell dropped; the SEC sued Elon Musk over securities fraud over his August tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private and having the "Funding secured." But a new report from CNBC said there was a possible settlement between the two where Musk would not have to admit guilt. However, Musk pulled the plug on the deal at the last minute. According to sources, this is what the proposed deal looked like, Tesla and Musk would had to pay a fine Musk would not have to admit guilt or deny culpability Barred Musk as being the chairman for two years Require Tesla to find two new independent directors However, Musk refused this deal "because he felt that by settling he would not be truthful to himself, and he wouldn't have been able to live with the idea that he agreed to accept a settlement and any blemish associated with that, the sources said." This move puts Tesla and Musk in a very difficult spot. The company's stock fell 13.9 percent on Friday - the worst since November 2013. There are also questions as to whether or not Elon Musk will stay on as CEO or if this mess will force him to leave. Choosing to fight the SEC means it could take years for an outcome to be reached according to Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Bernstein Research. "In the absence of a settlement, the mere possibility that Musk could be removed as CEO (or entirely from Telsa) is likely to cast an overhang on the stock, and make it extremely difficult for the company to raise capital (either private or public)," Sacconaghi said. What will be Tesla's defense to the SEC's charge? The Wall Street Journal learned from a source that Musk believed "he had a verbal agreement in place with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund to help finance a plan to take the auto maker private." Musk believes that the SEC isn't "taking into account that Middle Eastern businesses routinely operate using verbal agreements in principle." Source: CNBC, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  5. The tweet that has become Elon Musk's version of Pandora's Box has brought forth a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Today, the SEC accused Musk of securities fraud when he tweeted that he had the funding secured to take Tesla private back in August. "Musk knew or was reckless in not knowing that each of these statements was false and/or misleading because he did not have an adequate basis in fact for his assertions," the SEC wrote in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court today. "Musk's false and misleading public statements and omissions caused significant confusion and disruption in the market for Tesla's stock and resulting harm to investors." In the complaint, the SEC says the $420 share price was "based on a 20% premium over that day's closing share price because he thought 20% was a 'standard premium' in going-private transactions." At the time, that price would have been $419. The complaint goes on to say "Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number's significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend 'would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price.'" The SEC is requesting Musk "be prohibited from acting as an officer or director of any issuer that has a class of securities registered pursuant to Section 12 of the Exchange Act." This whole mess began on August 7th with Musk tweeting this, This surprised a number of people and brought forth questions as to who would provide the large amount of funding needed for this. About a week later, Musk revealed that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) could provide the necessary funding. This was based on discussions with the fund within the past couple of years. But Musk would pull the plug on this a few weeks after announcing it. "Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,” Musk wrote in a blog post. According to Bloomberg, the SEC was already investigating Tesla for various issues including projection into car sales before Musk made the tweet that brought forth a number of problems. “This unjustified action by the SEC leaves me deeply saddened and disappointed. I have always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency and investors. Integrity is the most important value in my life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way,” said Musk in a statement. "Neither celebrity status nor a reputation as a technological innovator provide an exemption from the federal securities laws," Stephanie Avakian, co-director of the SEC's Enforcement Division said during a press conference. Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required), Roadshow, SEC (Link to the complaint)
  6. We have to wonder if Tesla CEO Elon Musk regrets posting this tweet as the Justice Department has opened an investigation into the company. Bloomberg has learned from two sources that federal prosecutors opened a fraud investigation into the company after Musk's tweet sent shares soaring. This follows an inquiry by Securities and Exchange Commission into whether or not Tesla had issued "misleading pronouncements on manufacturing goals and sales targets." The investigation is in the early stages according to a source and its unclear how big of a scope the investigation could take. Prosecutors could look into other statements by Musk concerning Tesla's overall health and the circumstances surrounding Dave Morton, Tesla's former chief accounting officer. “Last month, following Elon’s announcement that he was considering taking the company private, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the DOJ and has been cooperative in responding to it. We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process. We respect the DOJ’s desire to get information about this and believe that the matter should be quickly resolved as they review the information they have received,” Tesla said in a statement today. Source: Bloomberg
  7. If there is a trend at Tesla, it's that there's always more to the various stories. Case in point: On Friday night, CEO Elon Musk posted a piece on Tesla's blog saying that plans have been scrapped about taking the company private. "Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,” Musk wrote. But what led him to this decision? Over the weekend, Bloomberg, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal published pieces into Musk's reversal. The short of it comes down to Musk jumped the gun with his announcement earlier this month on Twitter without making sure everything was in place. This from the New York Times - emphasis mine. Let's begin with Saudi Arabia. As we reported earlier this month, Musk said in a blog post that he believed Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund could provide the funding necessary for the move to go private. This was based on discussions between the two, along with the fund purchasing a small stake into the company. The Saudi's didn't share the same enthusiasm. While the fund was open to make a significant investment into Tesla to hedge the country against oil and help attract tech expertise, sources tell Bloomberg the fund was only interested in a minority stake. The two hadn't reached an agreement on the possible terms according to a source, before Musk made his post announcing the fund. The Wall Street Journal learned from a government official that Musk's post angered some senior officials in the kingdom. Some officials wondered about Musk's "health as well as the role he would play in the company." This might explain some of reasoning behind the possibility of Saudi Arabia's PIF investing to Lucid Motors - something we brought to light last week. Meanwhile, there were concerns at Tesla about Saudi Arabia. Some complained to Musk about selling a large chunk of shares to a foreign oil producer wouldn't be a good look. As for the private investors, the Journal reports that Goldman Sachs and private-equity firm were brought in to help facilitate a deal. Last Wednesday, the two presented Musk a roster of investors including Volkswagen and Silver Lake itself (promising to contribute up to $30 billion according to sources). But these weren't the investors that Musk wanted as he was suspicious of rival car companies, along with losing a number of small investors. There would also be a catch as the two explained the money being provided would have strings attached such as having a lot of say in how the company is run. A day later, Musk met with the board saying that he would be withdrawing the idea of going private. Source: Bloomberg, New York Times, Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  8. Over two weeks ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took everyone by surprise by announcing his intention to take Tesla private. But those plans have been scrapped. Last night, Musk published a blog post saying that he had met with the board and “let them know that I believe the better path is for Tesla to remain public. The Board indicated that they agree.” "Although the majority of shareholders I spoke to said they would remain with Tesla if we went private, the sentiment, in a nutshell, was ‘please don’t do this,” wrote Musk. In a separate statement, Tesla's board of directors confirmed Musk's decision. "Yesterday, we held a Board meeting, during which Elon reported on the work he and his advisors have been doing in connection with this effort. Elon communicated to the Board that after having done this work and considered all factors, he believes the better path is to no longer pursue a transaction for taking Tesla private. After discussing this, we dissolved the Special Committee. The Board and the entire company remain focused on ensuring Tesla’s operational success, and we fully support Elon as he continues to lead the company moving forward," the statement says. This saga began with a tweet back on August 7th, This tweet sent everyone into a tizzy and caused NASDAQ to halt trading of Tesla stock for a few hours. There was one big question, how was Tesla going to fund this? Musk revealed a week later that it would be Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, though reports say the fund isn't so thrilled about this idea. As we reported earlier this week, the fund is in talks with another electric automaker, Lucid Motors. The announcement has prompted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to subpoena the company, along with a number of lawsuits from upset investors. Source: Tesla, Bloomberg
  9. Last Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out that he was considering taking the automaker private and had "secured" funding. Since then, the question of who is providing the funding has been left unanswered. Today, Musk wrote up a blog post that provides some insight. The post reveals that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is responsible for the possible funding of Tesla's move to private. In the last two years, representatives of the fund have met with Musk and discussed possibly taking the company off the market. The most recent meeting was on July 31st, after the fund bought an almost 5 percent stake. "During the meeting, the Managing Director of the fund expressed regret that I had not moved forward previously on a going private transaction with them, and he strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time. I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed," Musk wrote. "I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving. This is why I referred to “funding secured” in the August 7th announcement." The board was notified about Musk's intentions to take Tesla private on August 2nd. From there, the board held a meeting (minus Musk and his brother Kimbal, who is also a board member) to discuss this possibility. Musk also planned to speak to the company's largest shareholders about the possible move. Towards the end of the post, Musk said he is continuing "to communicate with the Managing Director of the Saudi fund," and that "he has expressed support for proceeding subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals." But there is one big question that is unanswered; did Musk secure the funding when he made that tweet or not? As we reported last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into whether or not Musk was lying about the funding. If Musk was able to get the funding, it will be quite awhile before Tesla can become private. Per the blog post, the board needs to put together a plan that it can agree upon. From there, shareholders will vote on the plan. If approved, Tesla can start on the next steps. Source: Tesla
  10. Everyone seemed to lose their mind when Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted out Tuesday that he was considering taking the company private. For a time, the NASDAQ had to halt trading of Tesla stock because of massive fluctuations in the share price. The reasoning behind this move made sense as it would allow the company to focus on the long-term. But this tweet has also brought some unattended problems. Reuters has learned from sources at Tesla that the board of directors is seeking more information from him as to how the buyout will be financed. As we reported yesterday, the board has talked about this idea for some time. But a source reveals that it hasn't gotten either a detailed plan from Musk, nor any information as to who will provide the funding. Both Reuters and CNBC are reporting that the board will make a decision on whether or not to do a formal review of Musk's proposal in the coming days. It also plans to speak with financial advisers about explore this proposal. Sources tell CNBC that the board will ask Musk to recuse himself from the review process of his proposal. He'll need to hire his own advisers for a review. There is another twist in this story. Musk has talked to Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund about a take-private deal, according to a source. This is likely due to the Saudi's Public Investment Fund buying between a 3 to 5 percent stake in the automaker, worth about $2 billion that was brought to light this week. Tesla's board isn't the only group interested in Musk's plan. Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is inquiring whether or not Musk was telling the truth when said that he had secured funding for the buyout. Under U.S. law, companies and officials cannot give misleading information about events to shareholders. It is unclear whether or not this will cause an investigation be opened or not. A SEC spokesman declined to comment. Musk could also be in trouble if the SEC find evidence that his tweet was aimed at increasing the company's share price. We'll keep you posted if anything new breaks. Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required), Reuters, CNBC
  11. Yesterday afternoon, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted this This sent everyone into a tizzy, wondering if he was being serious or not. In fact, NASDAQ had to halt trading of Tesla for a couple of hours because of this tweet. Thankfully, Tesla posted an email that was sent by Musk to employees explaining why. The key reason comes down wanting to minimize distractions and begin focusing on the long term. "But the reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best. As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term," Musk wrote in the email. Musk also made light of the short sellers who bet against Tesla succeeding, saying the company was the most shorted stock "in the history of the stock market". By going private, it gives the company some protection. How would this changeover to private work? Musk said he would like to offer shareholders to either remain or sell their shares at $420 per share (a bit higher than the $375.16 share price at the time of this writing). He would also like Tesla's employees to remain as shareholders. "Basically, I'm trying to accomplish an outcome where Tesla can operate at its best, free from as much distraction and short-term thinking as possible, and where there is as little change for all of our investors, including all of our employees, as possible," the email states. This move will need to be approved by Tesla's board of directors. In a statement released this morning, several members of the board published a statement that echoes the reasons given by Musk. It also reveals that this idea had been on Musk's mind for sometime. "Last week, Elon opened a discussion with the board about taking the company private. This included discussion as to how being private could better serve Tesla's long-term interests, and also addressed the funding for this to occur. The board has met several times over the last week and is taking the appropriate next steps to evaluate this," the statement says. One of those "appropriate next steps" is getting enough money to do the buybacks. Musk in his tweet said he has funding for it, but it is unclear who and how much is being provided. According to MarketWatch, the buyout would total $72 billion if all of the shareholders decide to sell. Source: Tesla, MarketWatch
  12. Tesla announced their second-quarter results this afternoon and the picture that it paints is somewhat cloudy. The company reported a loss of $717.5 million for the quarter, marking the seventh consecutive loss, On the upside, Tesla's revenue for the quarter was about $3.4 billion. In terms of production, Tesla said it produced 53,339 vehicles for the quarter. More importantly, the company delivered 18,449 Model 3s in that timeframe. During the earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said the company would become profitable towards the end of this year as it ramps up production and deliveries of the Model 3. "Our goal is to be profitable and cashflow positive in every quarter going forward," said Musk. To reach this, Musk has set new goals of producing 6,000 Model 3s per week by the end of August, and then raising that to 10,000 vehicles next year. Currently, Tesla is producing "approximately 5,000 Model 3 cars" per week. Source: Tesla
  13. Tesla is asking suppliers to refund some of the cash on past work as a way to make the automaker profitable. The Wall Street Journal obtained a memo that was sent to a Tesla supplier last week. The company requested that the supplier return " a meaningful amount of money of its payments since 2016." The memo goes onto say that the request is essential to Tesla's "continued operation" and would "continue the long-term growth between both players." Its unclear how many suppliers received this memo. Tesla's list of suppliers include Magna, Panasonic, and Robert Bosch GmbH. Tesla declined to comment on the memo, but did confirm that it is seeking price cuts from suppliers on various projects, some which date back to 2016. The company said such requests are a standard part of negotiations with suppliers. Supply-chain consultants say this is normal for automakers to request price reductions on current projects. Asking for money back on a completed one is very unusual. “It’s simply ludicrous and it just shows that Tesla is desperate right now. They’re worried about their profitability but they don’t care about their suppliers’ profitability,” said Dennis Virag, a manufacturing consultant. This report casts serious questions as to Tesla's money situation. The company has been burning through a billion dollars per quarter, and finished the first quarter with $2.7 billion cash on hand. Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  14. Tesla only has one assembly plant in Fremont, California. But that could be changing in the near future. Yesterday, Tesla and the and the Shanghai government reached a preliminary deal for a new assembly plant. The automaker expects production in about three year's time, provided they can get the approvals and permits needed. Tesla says the plant could build up to 500,000 vehicles annually. According to Bloomberg, the plant is expected to build the Model 3 sedan and upcoming Model Y crossover. Tesla building a plant in China doesn't come as surprise. The country is the largest market for electric vehicles, and most forecasters believe sales will skyrocket as government regulations push toward a goal of 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030. There are some questions about this new factory. For one, how is Tesla going to pay for this new plant? At the end of the first quarter, the company burned through $2.7 billion, mostly due to various issues dealing with ramping up Model 3 production. The Shanghai government said it would help cover some of capital costs. The other is will Tesla need to share technologies with a Chinese partner. Currently, any foreign automaker has to enter into a joint venture with a Chinese automaker and transfer various technologies. "For technology transfer, it is a matter subject to negotiation between the enterprises," said Huang Ou, deputy head of the Shanghai government’s economy and information technology commission. The Chinese government announced back in May that it would scrap the rules for "capping foreign ownership of new-energy vehicle ventures" by 2022. Source: Bloomberg, Reuters
  15. Tesla has finally done it. Over the weekend, the company hit their milestone of producing 5,000 Model 3s in a week only a few hours after the deadline set by CEO Elon Musk - the end of the second quarter. Two Tesla factory workers told Reuters that the 5,000th Model 3 cleared final inspection around 5:00 AM PDT. “We did it!! We either found a way or, by will and inventiveness, created entirely new solutions that were thought impossible. Intense in tents. Transporting entire production lines across the world in massive cargo planes. Whatever. It worked,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in an email to employees. “I think we just became a real car company.” Reaching this goal was quite hard for the automaker. Numerous delays and production issues caused Tesla to push back production milestones on a seemingly regular basis. The company had to build a makeshift assembly line in a tent within the past month to help bolster production. But can Tesla keep up this output? There are concerns they might not be able to do it. According to one worker, Tesla sent employees from other departments to the Model 3 production line to keep it going. This including shutting down parts of the factory such as the Model S production line. “Reaching it is one thing,” said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for AutoPacific Inc to Bloomberg. “Consistently producing 5,000 per week with outstanding quality is another.” Source: Bloomberg, Reuters
  16. Tesla and General Motors lead the pack when it comes to the sales of plug-in vehicles. Data from Automotive News says Tesla stands at 193,344 vehicles, followed by GM at 181,062, But there arises a problem; once they cross the 200,000 mark, the phaseout of the $7,500 tax credit begins. Tesla is expected to be first with some predicting it taking place next month (provided they don't run into more production troubles). GM will follow sometime next year. Barring some sort of extension of the program, it will put the two automakers in a bit of bind where they'll be playing on an uneven playing field due to increased costs. It should be noted that the tax credit won't disappear. The way the phaseout works is that the $7,500 credit sticks around for two more quarters after the 200,000 mark is reached. After that, the credit is cut to $3,750 for the next two quarters, then it drops to $1,875 for two more quarters before it is gone. "The groundbreakers, the people who forged ahead and got these products out there first, could be at a significant disadvantage now. I don't think it's fair to reward a company that hasn't been as innovative with an incentive that begins when someone else's ends," said Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst at Kelly Blue Book. Industry experts expect GM to take a bigger hit than Tesla due to the credit affecting decisions on "lower-priced vehicles such as the sub-$40,000 Chevrolet Volt more than a $75,000-plus Tesla Model S or X" according to research done by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Davis. A study in 2016 bears this out. 40 percent of Chevrolet Volt buyers admit they wouldn't have purchased one without the tax credit. Only 14 percent of Tesla buyers say the same. This likely explains why various GM executives have been pushing the White House for a possible extension of the credit. "At the end of the day, we think having the benefits is great for the customer, because obviously it makes the EV adoption easier and more attractive," GM North America President Alan Batey told Automotive News. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  17. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners LLC, the company behind an aftermarket device called the Autopilot Buddy. Autopilot Buddy is a small, weighted device that clips onto either side of the wheel to place minor amounts of torque. This fools the Autopilot system into thinking that a driver has their hands on the wheel. The company markets the device as "nag reduction device", reducing the amount of warnings to tell driver to keep their hands on the wheel. The company has a disclaimer on Autopilot Buddy that states, This would be ok if a video demonstrating the product didn't appear to be on a public road of sorts. “A product intended to circumvent motor vehicle safety and driver attentiveness is unacceptable. By preventing the safety system from warning the driver to return their hands to the wheel, this product disables an important safeguard, and could put customers and other road users at risk,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King in a statement. NHTSA has given Dolder, Falco and Reese Partners LLC till June 29th to respond and certify to NHTSA "that all U.S. marketing, sales, and distribution of the Autopilot Buddy has ended." Source: Roadshow, NHTSA
  18. In a staff-wide email sent today, Tesla CEO announced that the company would be laying off nine percent of its staff across the company. The cuts comes as part of "an effort to reduce costs and become profitable.” “Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us. What drives us is our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy, but we will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable. That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date,” wrote Musk. The layoffs will not effect workers on the production, instead focusing on those working in various white-collar positions. Musk stressed this will not affect plans on reaching production targets for the Model 3 in the coming months. “Tesla has grown and evolved rapidly over the past several years, which has resulted in some duplication of roles and some job functions that, while they made sense in the past, are difficult to justify today,” Musk wrote. Those being laid off will get "significant salary and stock vesting" by the company. Source: Bloomberg, Fortune, Roadshow
  19. There were serious concerns before the beginning of Tesla's annual shareholders meeting mostly due to CEO Elon Musk's erratic behavior over the past month or so. But Musk was on his best behavior during the meeting, where some big announcements were made. On the business front, Tesla shareholders voted to keep Antonio Gracias, James Murdoch, and Kimbal Musk on the board, despite criticisms from a group of shareholders that they aren't fully independent from Musk. There was also the proposal of splitting the chairman and CEO posts held by Musk, with one investor saying it has become difficult for Musk to oversee the company. This motion would be defeated. "At Tesla we build our cars with love. At a lot of other companies, they're built by marketing or the finance department and there's no soul. We're not perfect but we pour our heart and soul into it and we really care," said Musk, choking up on the mic after the voting took place. From there, Musk went on to talk about what's in the pipeline for Tesla. He started with the Model 3 by claiming it was the best selling mid-sized premium sedan in the U.S. and had a graph to prove it - though we're a bit dubious as to this claim since the graph doesn't label the x and y axises. Musk also claimed that Tesla is producing 3,500 Model 3s per week and is “quite likely” to be building 5,000 of the sedans a week by the end of this month. This will happen through the addition of a third production line at their Freemont, CA Plant. “The biggest constraint on output is general assembly. We can probably get to 5,000 a week with the current two general assembly lines. But with the third one, I’m highly confident that we can exceed 5,000 units per week,” said Musk. Production of the mystical $35,000 Model 3 will begin sometime early next year according to Musk. In other product news, the Model Y crossover was teased once again. The current plan is to reveal it next March with production to begin in 2020. Autopilot made some news during the meeting as Tesla announced a new free trial to owners who haven't decided to opt-in. Musk revealed that a planned Autopilot upgrade will begin rolling out later this week and promises a marked improvement. Other news from the meeting: Tesla will be adding another plant in Shanghai. The plant will produce battery packs, cars, and powertrains. More details may be announced as soon as next month. Musk also revealed plans to build a plant in Europe towards the end of this year. Tesla service centers will be increasing in size and adding body shops. This could solve one of biggest issues of the current system to repair Teslas involved in accidents. Currently, Tesla requires a body shop to order parts directly from the factory, which takes weeks for parts to be delivered. The semi-truck has been going through various revisions in terms of design and powertrains with the goal of making it a world-wide vehicle. Source: Bloomberg, (2), Reuters, Roadshow
  20. Over two years ago, hundreds of thousands of people put down $1,000 deposit to order their very own Tesla Model 3 with the hoping of getting it in 2018. Flash forward to now and a growing number of those have been asking for their money back. Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of dollars in anonymized credit and debit card purchases to determine various trends said in a post today that 23 percent of reservation-holders have asked for a refund as of April, a noticeable increase from 12 percent last August. Contrast this with only 8 percent of holders that have configured a Model 3 for production. The remaining 69 percent is a mixture of those waiting for their turn to configure their vehicle and those who are waiting for a refund - numbers Tesla only knows. A Tesla spokesperson told Recode that their internal data "does not align" with Second Measure's data, but would not go into specifics into as to how far off. Tesla has been struggling with Model 3 production for some time, pushing back production targets several times. At the moment, Tesla is targeting "approximately 5,000 Model 3's per week in about two months." Source: Recode, Second Measure
  21. .Over the weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter and announced a new powerful version of the Model 3. The version according to Musk will cost $78,000 and will be "quicker & with better handling. The last line of Musk's tweet made us chuckle since the current Model 3 warranty doesn't permit racing and autocross. Nevertheless, it has brought up questions as to where the $35,000 Model 3 is. For a number of buyers who plopped down the $1,000 deposit, this is the model they are waiting for. Musk gave a roundabout answer to where the low-priced Model 3 is. There is some truth to Musk's madness. Tesla is burning through cash like it is going out of style. According to Bloomberg, the company used up more than a billion in the first quarter. One way Tesla raises money is rolling out their most expensive variants of the Model S, X, and 3. Once they have enough cash, they will begin production of less expensive models. But the Model 3 has proven to be very problematic for Tesla. Various delays and production issues have caused Tesla to push back production targets for the Model 3 again and again. Tesla is aiming to produce 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of the second quarter. “The idea that it’s supposed to be a car for everyone is kind of laughable. Anyone who wanted a base model may have to wait years out,” said Ivan Drury, senior manager of industry analysis at Edmunds.com. Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  22. Tesla's 'production hell' is continuing on and is causing the automaker to shut down the Model 3 assembly line for almost a week. Reuters has learned from two sources that Tesla will stop production of the Model 3 from May 26th to 31st in an effort to fix the various bottlenecks on the line. A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment. Tesla warned that there would be 10 days of temporary shutdowns this quarter in an effort to try and get Model 3 production back up and running smoothly. CEO Elon Musk said the shutdowns would be used to make upgrades to reach a goal of building 5,000 Model 3s by the end of June. Already, Tesla stopped production for a few days last month, and also in February. The key problem is Tesla's over-reliance on robots for production, something Musk acknowledges. Source: Reuters
  23. A new report from the Wall Street Journal reports that engineers at Tesla wanted to put more safeguards for Autopilot to keep drivers attentive to the road, but were rejected by executives. This has been concern within Tesla since the launch of Autopilot and only intensified in 2016 when a Model S crashed into a trailer in Florida. The driver was killed and an investigation revealed that Autopilot was on at the time. After the crash, Tesla brought in suppliers to talk about possible ways to keep a driver's attention on the road. Two ideas mentioned in the report included, Tracking the eyes of a driver to make sure they are watching the road. This would use a camera and infrared sensors. Cadillac uses something similar with their SuperCruise system. Incorporating sensors into the steering wheel to monitor whether a driver's hands were on the wheel. Autopilot already has a sensor to monitor small movements of the wheel and will issue a warning to the driver if it doesn't detect any movement. The downside is that the driver can quickly touch the wheel to stop the warnings for a few moments. However, the ideas were thrown out by Tesla executives (including CEO Elon Musk) due to costs and concerns that the technologies would be ineffective or annoy drivers. “It came down to cost, and Elon was confident we wouldn’t need it,” a source told the Wall Street Journal. A key issue with Autopilot is the false sense of confidence that drivers give to it - see the number of near-miss videos on Youtube as evidence. Tesla says in their owner manuals Autopilot has limitations and drivers must agree to a screen when Autopilot has engaged, "that it is their responsibility to stay alert and maintain control." Musk admitted during Tesla's recent earnings call that complacency with Autopilot was an issue. “When there is a serious accident, it is almost always, in fact, maybe always the case, that it is an experienced user,” said Musk. “And the issue is...more one of complacency, like we get too used to it.” Source: Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)
  24. The bad luck is continuing at Tesla. Buzzfeed News reports that Tesla has temporarily shut down the Model 3 production line at the Freemont plant for a week. Employees at Tesla tell Buzzfeed the announcement came suddenly and they have the choice of using vacation days or stay home without pay. Some will get the chance to work in other parts of the plant. A Tesla spokesperson said the shutdown is due to the company wanting to “improve automation.” This is the second time this year that Tesla has shut down the Model 3 production line. Back in late February, reports came out that Tesla had shut down the Model 3 production line. "Our Model 3 production plan includes periods of planned downtime in both Fremont and Gigafactory 1. These periods are used to improve automation and systematically address bottlenecks in order to increase production rates. This is not unusual and is in fact common in production ramps like this," said Tesla in a statement at the time. It should be noted this exact statement was issued again after news broke about the second shutdown. This comes on the heels of an interview last week with CBS' This Morning where CEO Elon Musk admitted the Model 3 had too much new technology and relied too much on robots in the production process. Source: Buzzfeed News, Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  25. Saturday night at Tesla's Fremont, California assembly plant was a sight to behold. "...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," Bloomberg reports. Was Tesla was celebrating an important milestone? No, the company was using this to try and motivate their workers to get more Model 3s out the door to provide some good news for investors. The past week could be considered one of the worst for the electric car maker. Moody's downgraded Tesla's credit rating further into junk status due to production issues and growing obligations. The NTSB has opened a new investigation into Tesla after a driver was killed when his Model X crashed into a barrier and caught fire. "Unclear if automated control system was active at time of crash. Issues examined include: post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene," the NTSB wrote earlier in the week. Yesterday, the NTSB said it was "unhappy" with Tesla releasing information into the crash on their blog. The NTSB has a long history of guarding their investigations very closely. Part of this is due to the board being a small agency, which means it relies quite heavily on the participants involved in an investigation. On Thursday, Tesla recalled 123,000 Model S vehicles built before April 2016 for a power-steering issue. Yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted a number of tweets, saying the company had gone bankrupt. It was an April Fool's joke, but it did not go over so well. In early trading this morning, shares in Tesla dropped as much as 5.7 percent. Tesla estimated they would deliver 10,000 Model 3s by the end of the first quarter. We'll likely find out in the next few days whether or not Tesla was able to pull this off when their first-quarter report comes out. But a number of analysts believe Tesla came up short. Source: Bloomberg

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