Tesla boosts Model 3 production but still short of goal

Washington: Embattled electric car maker Tesla said Tuesday it had ramped up quarterly production on its Model 3 sedan, although it still fell short of its goal of 2,500 a week.

Tesla manufactured 2,020 of the lower-priced model in the final seven days of the quarter, after racing to report higher output to investors.

Production bottlenecks have plagued the company, with much of its future banked on the Model 3, its first mid-price, mass-market vehicle.

First-quarter production rose 40 percent above the final three months of 2017 to 34,494 cars, including 9,766 Model 3 vehicles, which the company said marked its most productive quarter ever.

“The Model 3 output increased exponentially, representing a fourfold increase over last quarter,” the company said in a statement.

In all, the California company delivered 29,980 cars in the first three months of the year, made up of 11,730 Model S, 10,070 Model X and 8,180 Model 3, Tesla said in a statement.

The production shortfall comes at a bad time for the company, which is facing a federal investigation into a recent fatal crash involving Autopilot, its driver assistance system, and the voluntary recall of 123,000 Model S sedans announced last week.

The Moody’s ratings agency last week downgraded the company’s credit further into junk status, saying Tesla might run out of cash if it did not raise more than $2 billion.

That may have been behind Tesla chief Elon Musk’s series of April Fool’s Day tweets, including a fake press statement declaring that “Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt. So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.”

The Model 3 delivery figures offered some reassurance to investors, and shares in the company were up 4.6 percent shortly after 1500 GMT on Tuesday in New York.