Arriving soon: Tesla's moment of truth for the Model 3

Can Tesla navigate through its many controversies and still meet its sales targets? We're about to find out....

Posted: Sep 29, 2018 8:21 AM
Updated: Sep 29, 2018 8:21 AM

Can Tesla navigate through its many controversies and still meet its sales targets? We're about to find out.

Early next week Tesla will report how many cars it made in the third quarter and how many it was actually able to deliver to customers.

Three months ago, investors and Tesla fans waited to see if the company could hit its long-promised target of building 5,000 Model 3 cars in a week. It just made that goal, building 5,031 in the last week of June.

Experts say the report on third quarter production is much more important to the company and its future. It'll show whether the production level at the end of the second quarter was a blip or sustainable.

"The idea of having sustained production is so much more important than a production sprint during a week," said Jeremy Acevedo manager of industry analysis at Edmunds. "The difference between 5,000 a week and 20,000 a month is huge."

And even more importantly it'll show whether Tesla is on track to meet CEO Elon Musk's promises that the company would be profitable in the third and fourth quarters. The company had only two marginally profitable quarters in its history as a public company, and posted its largest loss ever in the second quarter as it rushed to ramp up production.

The losses, and more than $1 billion in debt that will be come due at Tesla by next spring, are why some experts are raising the possibility of a cash crunch at Tesla that could force it to sell more shares to raise cash. That could be more difficult as the stock loses value and Musk faces a federal lawsuit for misleading investors.

Musk has insisted that the company will not need to raise cash because it will generate more revenue with increased production. But he also has admitted that the company is having trouble delivering all the cars it is building.

"Sorry, we've gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell," Musk tweeted two weeks ago, though he promised, "We're making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly."

Needless to say, its customers who are waiting for their Teslas aren't paying for their long-anticipated cars until they actually get delivered. So the logistics problems could be its own red flag for the company revenue.

"The delivery scramble and chaos they're going through right now, it's disconcerting," said Rebecca Lindland, analyst with Cox Automotive.

She said that while some fans of Tesla might want to focus on whatever production number is reported, it's important to look at both production and deliveries.

Tesla's most consequential report in its history has been overshadowed with controversy.

In August Musk announced via tweet that he was planning to take the company private at a price of $420 a share, and that he had "funding secured" to do so. Although he had some investors expressing interest in financing such a deal, there was nothing secured, according to the SEC. He dropped plans to go private by the end of the month. But by then he had already been sued by shareholders who charged that the tweet was a deceptive effort to manipulate the stock price. And Thursday the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a suit against Musk, seeking to have him removed as an officer at Tesla or any other public company.

Add in stories about Musk not getting any sleep and smoking pot during a podcast, and his other company SpaceX selling a trip to the moon for a billionaire tourist on his other company SpaceX, and its easy to forget that a good measure of success is actually how many cars you can build and sell.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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