Tesla, Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

Tesla is an American OEM that sells cars and energy storage solutions such as stationary batteries and solar panels under the Tesla brand. This page contains research on Tesla's activities and strategy.

Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

OCTOBER 2017: Our analysis of Tesla's volume outlook for Model S, Model X and Model 3

  • We believe that Model S and X volumes will only grow slightly
  • We think that Model 3 will sell around 200,000 units per year -- not insignificant, but well short of expectations

Only time will tell if we are right or wildly wrong...

Automotive trends, Auto industry trends, Automotive market research, Automotive market analysis, auto industry news

2018

August

  • CEO Musk gave an interview where he talked about the mental and physical pressures of working constantly, and but said the board had full confidence in him and there was no need for a COO, although if someone better than him were found they could “have the reigns right now”. (New York Times)
  • CEO Musk explained the background to his infamous “funding secured” tweet by saying it came following conversations with a Saudi sovereign wealth fund where he was left with the impression that the fund would provide him with whatever financing was necessary to take the company private. (Tesla)
  • A trip to Tesla’s factory left analysts confident the company was achieving benchmark levels of productivity and that an increase in line rate to 8,000 vehicles per week can be achieved with relatively low additional spending. (CNBC)
  • A Model 3 teardown report speculated that base model vehicles may be lossmaking (by up to $6,000 per unit) due to the technology cost, and that the design cost lead over GM was lower than expected. (Economic Times of India)
  • CEO Musk said the company could “maybe” make a car with a price of $25,000 “in about three years”. Musk also said the company was still learning to develop two products concurrently. (CNBC)
  • Tesla CEO Musk announced via Twitter and internal email that he was mulling whether to take the company private at a $420 per share level. He believes that the stock market listing drives too much short term thinking but still wants to have a tradeable form of shareholding for employees and external investors, citing SpaceX as a precedent. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk is reportedly under investigation because of how he released information about the possibility of Tesla going private. Speculation about legality concentrated on whether the statement “funding secured” was true and the use of Twitter is when some subscribers are blocked (precedent already says it is okay where there is no impediment to access and the company directs investors to the relevant channel -- as Tesla have done). (Business Insider)
  • Saw a large Saudi sovereign wealth fund take a stake of just under 5%, but they reportedly aren’t interested in providing financing for the company to be taken private. (Reuters)
  • Information reportedly supplied by current and former Panasonic employees showed production of solar cells at around a quarter of Tesla’s intended annual 1 GW target, and includes production that Panasonic is selling under its own brand, due to envisaged demand from Tesla not yet materialising. (Reuters)
  • The company aims to be profitable and cash flow positive “for every quarter, going forward”. In some instances, this could be “barely” and Tesla may take on debt for projects like new factories. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Aims to produce 6,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of August and reach 10,000 units per week “sometime next year”. (Tesla)
  • Revised its medium term production outlook, saying although 1 million vehicles in 2020 was still its aspiration, “somewhere between half a million and a million seems pretty likely”. (Business Insider)
  • Said it has faced cost challenges because production problems with Model 3 have sometimes meant resorting to low volume tooling where unit prices “can easily be 10 times more” than volume tooling. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Said its latest driver assistance hardware will be capable of processing 2,000 frames per second, with redundancy, versus 200 frames per second in the current version. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Has reportedly been in talks with officials in Germany and the Netherlands to decide a site for a European Gigafactory. Tesla currently has a CKD facility in the Netherlands. (Reuters)
  • Said the most frequently traded in vehicles for Model 3 (in the US) were Honda Accord, Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf and BMW 3 Series. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Tesla’s latest software update will apparently feature some Atari games the driver can play whilst the car is at a standstill, including a driving game controlled with the vehicle steering wheel. (The Verge)

July

  • Saw widespread interest in a request by Tesla for retrospective rebates from some of its suppliers. (WSJ)
  • CEO Musk said the company was “trying” to get rid of contracts and enable customers to return a vehicle “for any reason”, but with no comment forthcoming on timing, it wasn’t clear how hard they were trying. (Business Insider)
  • CEO Musk and Tesla PR said reports that Model 3 net orders were falling were false. They probably need to pay more careful attention to their own statements. In the Q2 2017 earnings call, he said there were roughly 455,000 orders, the other week Tesla said there were roughly 420,000 outstanding orders, having delivered 28,386 cars. 455,000 - 420,000 - 28,386 = 6,614 missing, or cancelled, orders. Perhaps Tesla choose to measure net orders by their own definition? (Business Insider)
  • Panasonic suspending its relationship with a supplier over cobalt supplies that may be in breach of sanctions against Cuba. Batteries containing the affected material have been installed in Teslas since the beginning of the year but it is unclear whether there is any legal issue. (Reuters)
  • Agreed the terms for a new factory in Shanghai, China, with annual capacity of 500,000 units. (BBC)
  • Reached a milestone of 200,000 sales in the US, meaning that buyers no longer receive a federal subsidy. (Reuters)
  • Saw an employee branded a “saboteur” by CEO Musk report the company to the SEC, alleging misstatements on production figures for Model 3. (Bloomberg)
  • Raised prices in China by around 20%. (Reuters)
  • CEO Musk gave an in-depth interview where he acknowledged the company didn’t listen to doubters about the Model 3 production process because he had been told Tesla was doing it wrong for the last 15 years. He appeared to set a target for the Model Y unveil to be in March 2019. (Bloomberg)
  • Said reservations for the Model 3 stood at “roughly” 420,000 units with 28,386 cars delivered since the start of production. (Tesla)
  • Said the production rate of the new assembly line in a tent, dubbed GA4, was around 1,000 units per week, as opposed to around 5,000 per week expected from the original assembly line. (Tesla)
  • Tesla’s internal target for Model 3 production in Q2 was reportedly 36,020 units. (Business Insider)
  • Luxembourg’s testing body held a media event where the emergency braking of a Tesla Model S compared unfavourably with a Volvo. Tesla implied the event was a non-scientific publicity stunt. (Engadget)

Q2 2018 Financial Results

  • Reported Q2 2018 financial results. Revenues were $4 billion (of which automotive was $3.4 billion) and loss from operations was $(621) million -- greater than both the prior quarter and a year earlier. (Tesla)
  • Delivered 40,740 units in Q2 2018, 18,440 of which were Model 3, falling drastically short of most analyst’s estimates. Tesla produced 53,339 cars, of which 28,578 were Model 3. Both figures were records for the company. (Tesla)

June

  • Produced 5,000 Model 3 in 7 days, saying it was on track to reach 6,000 units per week in July. (CNBC)
  • Invited all Model 3 reservation holders in the USA and Canada to confirm their orders; in return they will have to hand over an additional $2,500. The $35,000 base specification vehicle is still available. (Detroit News)
  • Granted plant tours to selected journalists, who returned with stories of reactions that assembly line problems that sounded suspiciously like things that should have been identified in pre-Job#1 runs, rather than when the vehicle had already entered serial production. (New York Times)Said that it had been sabotaged by a disgruntled employee and shortly afterwards experienced a fire at its Freemont plant that CEO Musk said was “hard to explain”. (New York Times)
  • Created a final assembly line in a temporary building to increase Model 3 production. Judging by the reported equipment, size, number of toilets and fire extinguishers, the new line is low volume. This could still have benefits for overall production if it allows models in launch or with low take rates to be assembled with less disruption to the main lines. (Wired)
  • Said in an internal email that Model3 production was consistently above 500 units per day but that “radical improvements” were needed in several areas of the factory. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk said Germany was the “leading choice” for a new Tesla battery factory, probably near the border with France and the Benelux countries -- should Ford employees in Saarlouis prepare their CVs? (Business Insider)
  • A group of hackers published a series of images from Autopilot overlaid with system categorisation and radar data. Their analysis reveals previously unknown shadow capabilities of Autopilot (e.g. how good it is at tracking stopped vehicles) and provide information on which cameras perform which detection role. (Electrek)
  • Suing a former Gigafactory worker, accusing them of stealing data and trade secrets and leaking misleading information to the media about quality standards. (Bloomberg)
  • Is cutting around 9% of its workforce, almost all of whom are salaried staff, implying a cut of towards 20% of that group. CEO Musk cited duplication of roles and the need to cut costs. Within the job cuts lies a reorganisation of some of the US retail sales channel. (Business Insider)
  • Elon Musk’s management style and rhetoric were criticised by factory employees. (The Guardian)
  • Tesla’s director of AI gave a presentation outlining some of the issues the company is grappling with as it improves its machine learning. He put a heavy emphasis on the importance of data labelling and drew attention to the practical challenges in undoing previous labelling decisions. (Electrek)
  • Tesla’s AGM featured several interesting comments from executives. Headlines were made by suggestions the company could reach the 5,000 units per week production level for Model 3 by June; but also of interest was CEO Musk stating Tesla would reach $100 / kWh at a cell level in late 2018 and $100 / kWh at a pack level in the next two years. Tesla also plan to offer free trials of Autopilot again. (EV Obsession)
  • A report claimed Tesla internal documents said 40% of Gigafactory-produced parts for Model 3 were being either scrapped or reworked, amounting to $150 million in 2018. Tesla played down the reports. (Business Insider)
  • Will release version 9 of its operating system in August. CEO Musk said the new software would “begin to enable full self-driving features”. (Electrek)
  • CEO Musk says the Roadster will feature an “augmented mode” that he likened to a flying metal suit, assumed to be a reference to a trademarked comic book character. (Electrek)

May

  • A Model 3 teardown assessed the material costs of the Model 3 at $18,000, with a further $10,000 in production costs, indicating that gross profit margins in the 20%+ range are possible with efficient production. (Golem)
  • CEO Musk, replying to questions on Twitter, said the $35,000 version of the Model 3 would begin shipping 3-6 months after the 5,000 units per week production threshold was reached. (The Verge)
  • Updated the Model 3 braking system over the air following complaints from influential US reviewers Consumer Reports. (Engadget)
  • Settling a lawsuit from owners who said Tesla had under-delivered on its promises for Autopilot for $5 million, affected owners will receive between $20 and $280, their lawyers will probably do better. (Reuters)
  • Buoyed by registration figures from California which showed Model 3 at the top of the “Near Luxury” segment in Q1 2018, outselling both BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. (CNCDA)
  • Announced a series of new hires to executive positions. (Tesla)
  • Registered a new entity in China. Media reports speculated that this was for the company’s forthcoming Shanghai plant but Tesla refused to comment on the purpose of the new company. (Business Insider)
  • Criticised for rejecting driver monitoring methods that might ensure drivers were paying attention when using the Autopilot system. CEO Musk clarified the systems were rejected on reliability, not cost, grounds. (The Verge)
  • Will reportedly have a further weeklong stoppage at the end of May at Freemont to install machinery that will increase production capacity. (Reuters)
  • Waiting times for brand new Model 3 orders have reportedly fallen from 18 months to 6 months. (Electrek)
  • Tesla’s top safety executive defected to Waymo and the head of engineering took a leave of absence. (Bloomberg)
  • Initiated a company-wide ban on every individual third party contractor without “a Tesla employee putting their reputation on the line for them”. (Electrek)
  • Supplier orders indicate that Tesla has confidence in 5,000 per week Model 3 goal; a Chinese supplier of displays is reportedly preparing to ship 58,000 units in Q3. (Bloomberg)
  • Held an earnings call with CEO Musk in a combative mood, cutting off the analyst questions in favour of non-financial details. Although Musk did reveal that he is expecting Model 3 to get a 30%-40% share in premium sedans (cynics shouldn’t scoff about comparisons to non-existent segments, Musk is talking about 3-Series and C-Class, not Fusion and Malibu), unfortunately he refused to expand upon the “Customer Deposits” line in Tesla’s financial statements -- a potential good news story which has grown substantially in recent quarters -- indicating some support for Musk’s bullishness on Tesla’s offering (he said Semi reservations were about 2,000 units). (Seeking Alpha)
  • After the call, Musk said he shouldn’t have ignored the analyst questions, but defended his actions on the basis that he believed they were trying to justify a short position (they weren’t). (Reuters)
  • Said on the conference call that its best single hour production rate for Model 3 was equivalent to 5,000 units per week and that improvements in uptime will help it sustain that level soon -- working a continuous shift pattern. Executives described operations with less intensive manning as “foolish”. CEO Musk also detailed several unremarkable cost and time saving ideas the company had implemented, describing a revolutionary way of listening to employees that sounded a lot like the decades-old idea of quality circles. Seasoned production hands will also be surprised to know that software is the biggest part of a successful production system.(Seeking Alpha)
  • CEO Musk said Tesla will “probably be ready by the end of next year” to enable autonomous peer-to-peer ride hailing services -- but that regulators might not allow it at that stage. He also said that Tesla will begin publishing Autopilot performance data. (Seeking Alpha)
  • CEO Musk said Model Y R&D and CapEx will only become “significant” in 2019 and that the vehicle will be a “manufacturing revolution”, with production due to start in early 2020. The production location will apparently be somewhere other than the Freemont factory but Tesla won’t decide where until later in 2018 (but it seems to be somewhere in China -- perhaps near Shanghai). (Seeking Alpha)
  • When asked about 350 kW charging rates, Tesla indicated that in the near term, any upgrades to its facilities will be at around 200 - 250 MW, citing trade-offs between battery energy density and charging speed (whilst at the same time conceding it could design faster charging battery packs). Tesla also foresees new battery design reducing cobalt usage to “almost nothing”. (Seeking Alpha)

April

  • Lost a key electronics executive with Autopilot responsibility to Intel; the move appears to be focused on Intel’s core business rather than a defection to Intel’s self-driving effort. (Intel)
  • After another short shutdown to increase Model 3 capacity, CEO Musk wrote a letter to employees calling for a demonstration of 6,000 units per week capacity -- not by producing 6,000 units in a week but by producing 850 units in a 24 hours period. Musk also detailed a series of actions under the banners of precision and profit, including a distinctly old-world rule where all expenditure above $1 million will have to be personally approved by him. (Electrek)
  • Issued a detailed rebuttal of criticisms about the safety standards at its factories. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said Tesla will be profitable in Q3 and Q4 2018, with positive cash flow. (Business Insider)
  • Tesla seems to have scaled back its Alien Dreadnought ambitions for manufacturing, calling the approach “excessive” and saying that several automated processes had been stripped out in favour of manual completion. (CBS)
  • Has reportedly begun requesting quotes to supply Model Y, with a putative launch timing of late 2019. (Reuters)
  • Stopped correcting minor cosmetic damage on vehicles returned at the end of their lease; potential buyers criticised Tesla’s continued used of renderings for used car sales and not images of the actual vehicle in question. (Electrek)
  • Won a contract from BP for a windfarm battery storage unit at one of BP’s 12 US sites. (Reuters)
  • Recalling around 9,000 vehicles in China to replace steering components (mirroring a US recall). (Reuters)
  • People trying to recreate last month’s fatal Autopilot accident said that they had found the system may become dangerously confused when confronted with replacement road markings. (Business Insider)
  • Said it does not need any cash from debt or new stock “this year”, leaving the door open for potential fund raising once it has demonstrated a decent run rate on Model 3. (Reuters)
  • Received a telling off from US safety authorities for releasing unauthorised crash data. (The Guardian)

Q1 2018 Earnings

  • Announced financial results for the first quarter 2018. Tesla made a loss of $(784) million on revenues of $3.4 billion. Automotive revenue of $2.7 billion rose 19% on a year-over-year basis. (Tesla)
  • Released Q1 production numbers, saying it had built 34,494 vehicles, with the much-watched Model 3 weekly figure rising to 2,020 cars in the final week of the quarter (totally unrepresentative of the three-month average). (Tesla)

March

  • Released a series of blog posts detailing a recent fatal crash of a Model X. The company said that Autopilot was engaged but pointed to a series of safety warnings it said had been ignored by the driver and the reduced level of safety guarding at the scene of the accident. (Tesla)
  • Moody’s downgraded Tesla’s debt rating to B3 over cashflow concerns. (Business Insider)
  • According to a company-wide memo, Model 3 production is between 200 and 300 vehicles per day. (Bloomberg)
  • Announced a recall of 123,000 Model S vehicles to correct problems with power steering. (CNBC)
  • Shareholders approved CEO Elon Musk’s new pay scheme: he will receive no salary and only earn stock awards by growing the company’s business and market capitalisation. (CNBC)
  • Reportedly held talks with AI vision company Cortica that could lead to an acquisition or partnership. (Reuters)
  • Tesla says that its large battery installation in Australia is being underpaid for the grid stabilisation it provides because the current billing rules do not start counting power supplied until six seconds after the request is made (Tesla says it responds almost instantaneously). (Sydney Morning Herald)
  • Said it had improved Model S and Model X production efficiency and that 100,000 vehicles could be produced on a two shift pattern with minimal overtime, as opposed to a three shift pattern and lots of overtime before. It wasn’t really clear if this is new information since Tesla had previously told investors in 2015 that it could produce around 150,000 units per year (which would work out at 100,000 on two shifts), or it had just taken the company two years to fully ramp-up -- bad news for Model 3 if so. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly recently raised prices at supercharger stations by between 20% and 40%. The new charging costs are around $0.20 per kWh, which Tesla says is to recover the cost of electricity, making it difficult to explain how it will be able to give Tesla Semi owners electricity at a fixed price of $0.07 per kWh. (Electrek)
  • Employees speaking off the record said that Model 3 production was plagued by awful quality that led to substantial rework before parts were suitable for vehicle fit. (CNBC)
  • Took a week of downtime on the Model 3 line in late February to install new equipment. (Bloomberg)
  • Opening a research centre in Greece that is expected to house around 50 staff. (The Guardian)

February

  • Researchers found Tesla AWS cloud accounts were being used to mine cryptocurrency; the company said it corrected the problem soon after being alerted. (BBC)
  • Executives at DHL said that the Tesla semi-truck (the company has ordered a test fleet of 10) could payback “within a year and a half”. (Reuters)
  • Started a scheme that will offer free installation of Tesla-specific chargers to businesses. (The Verge)
  • Elon Musk left the board of OpenAI to “eliminate a potential future conflict of interest” with Tesla’s work in the same field. (OpenAI)
  • Model S reportedly outsold its German luxury contemporaries in Europe during 2017. (Manager Magazin)
  • Has been replacing under-utilised supercharger stations with slower-charging units. (Inside EVs)
  • Said that it a high profile coast-to-coast autonomous vehicle demonstration is delayed because it is waiting to use coding that could be used in many locations rather; than “game it” with specialised software. (TechCrunch)
  • Elon Musk wouldn’t give firm answers on current Model 3 status, preferring to lay a big portion of the blame on 3rd parties suppliers of manufacturing facilities. Keen Tesla watchers will remember that Tesla cut out some parts of the normal prototype build phase to save time, that wasn’t mentioned as a potential cause. (Seeking Alpha)
  • The head of sales and service is leaving the company (to go to Lyft) and will not be replaced; his responsibilities will be absorbed by the CEO. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Elon Musk said annual production of 100,000 trucks is a “reasonable” target and reiterated that he believes camera, lidar and ultrasonic sensors will be a sufficient sensor set for autonomous driving. He was particularly critical of 400nm to 700nm lidar -- slightly odd because it is not the area of focus for many suppliers who are instead working between 900nm - 1500nm. (Seeking Alpha)

January

  • Teardown company Munro Associates gave the Model 3 a poor review for a number of design elements. (Inquisitr)
  • Announced a new incentive plan for CEO Elon Musk. He will no longer receive a salary and there will be no annual grant of stock. Instead, the company has created a 12 step programme towards a $650 billion market value, each element of which would release 1% of Tesla’s shares to Mr Musk. If he succeeds he will more from one of the wealthiest humans alive to probably the wealthiest. (Tesla)
  • Refuted rumours of problems with Model 3 production, saying that it remained on track to meet its recent ramp-up guidance. (TechCrunch)

2017

2017 Full Year Earnings

  • Reported financial results for full year 2017, losing almost $(2) billion on automotive revenues of $8.5 billion. Tesla said that Model S and X were now constrained by supply of the 18650 form factor cell that they use -- a new excuse and slightly odd given Tesla’s past projections of 150,000+ deliveries for the two models combined. Production problems don’t seem to be putting customers off though -- deposits shot up 24% to $854 million, but that could all be reservations for Founders Series Roadster (worth $250 million if they were all taken, which they aren’t yet). (Tesla)
  • Tesla reported Q4 2017 production and delivery figures. Total production was 24,565 vehicles, with 29,870 units delivered. The company made 2,425 units of the all-important Model 3, delivering 1,550 vehicles to customers. The company pushed out its ramp-up targets again, hoping to have a weekly run rate of 2,500 units by the end of Q1 and reaching 5,000 units per week by the end of Q2 (six months behind the original target and three months later than it said in November). Although the company had its best ever quarter, Model S continued to plateau, with 2017 overall production down versus 2016 (deliveries were improved). (Tesla)

December

  • Some Tesla suppliers have said that orders for December and early 2018 imply that Model 3 production may reach a weekly rate of 5,000 units earlier than the end of Q1 2018 target. (Electrek)
  • CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that the company will launch a pick-up “right after” Model Y. He also answered some questions about the vehicle saying it would be similar in size to a Ford F-150. (Business Insider)
  • In a bid to increase residual / scarcity value of the original Tesla Roadster, Elon Musk said he would send one of his own into space. (Hotha Hardware)
  • Was reportedly under investigation by the SEC over the way that the company used and reported deposits for the Model 3. The investigation ended with no action against Tesla but a refusal by the SEC to comment led some to speculate that further investigations were ongoing. (Detroit News)
  • Introduced a fair use policy for supercharger stations that forbids vehicles charging for commercial purposes. The exclusion appears to apply to new vehicles only. (Electrek)
  • External analysts said sales discipline by the former Solar City operations, following the takeover by Tesla, were single-handedly responsible for a year-over-year fall in home installations in the US. (Reuters)
  • British Insurer Direct Line has started offering a 5 percent discount on vehicles fitted with autopilot. (Electrek)
  • CEO Elon Musk said that the company was creating its own self-driving hardware with help from AMD and that fully driverless vehicles would appear in two years time. (Futurism)

November

  • Activated a 100 MW stationary storage battery in Australia than Tesla had promised to build in 100 days or provide for free. The facility was switched on after 60 days and is situated next to a wind farm. (BBC)
  • Unveiled the Semi truck. Tesla will offer a “Mega Charger” network that adds 400 miles of range in 30 minutes, leading to speculation about the charger’s power output being well in excess of 1,000 MWh. Truck production begins in 2019. Tesla say that they will guarantee a wholesale electricity price of $0.07 per kW and the truck will have cheaper per mile economics than diesel trucks -- and even trains if a convoy of autonomous vehicles headed by a single human driver is used. The truck was hailed as having a drag coefficient of 0.36, comparing favourably to a Bugatti Chiron. Tesla were silent on why they didn’t choose the Toyota Prius’s 0.30 cd as the benchmark. (Tesla)
  • At the same event as the truck, Tesla also showed off the next generation Roadster. The 2+2 vehicle has a claimed 0-60mph time of 1.9 seconds and top speed above 250mph “for the base model”, thanks in part to 10,000Nm of torque and power from a 200kWh battery with a claimed 620-mile range. It costs $250,000 to reserve one of the first 1,000 Founders Series models. Production begins in 2020. (Tesla)
  • Almost lost in the aftermath of the Roadster and Semi-truck reveals, Tesla is now selling mobile phone top-up chargers. At $45 each, it’s probably the cheapest way to tear down a Tesla 18650 cell. (Tesla)
  • Bought automation supplier Perbix to help it improve manufacturing efficiency. (Bloomberg)
  • Had reportedly only assembled 440 Model 3 to the end of October. (Electrek)
  • Tesla said that its Model 3 ramp-up was going more slowly than expected, meaning that it would reach 5,000 units per week at the end of Q1 2018, rather than Q4 2017 as previously guided. The company wouldn’t give firm guidance on when it might achieve 10,000 units per week. (Tesla)
  • The Daily Kanban published a story saying that Tesla’s production problems were of its own making, citing a source at a manufacturing equipment supplier who contrasted Tesla’s rushed approach with that of a conventional OEM (Daily Kanban)

Q3 Financials (November)

  • Announced Q3 2017 financial results. Automotive revenue of $2.362 billion was up 10% on a year-over-year basis. Total revenue of $2.985 billion was up 30% YoY. Net income from operations was a loss of $(535) million, compared with a profit of $86 million a year earlier. (Tesla)
  • Announced Q3 deliveries of 26,150 vehicles, including 220 Model 3s, a 4.5% increase on a year-over-year basis. Although the company slightly upped its forecast for full year sales, the small number of Model 3 sales were generally considered to be a disappointment. (Tesla)

October

  • Reportedly told suppliers to expect firm orders of only 3,000 vehicles per week in December due to production bottlenecks, rather than the 5,000 per week it had previously guided (in line with public forecasts by Elon Musk). (Reuters)
  • Implied that it might start using modified Model S/X cars instead of vans for service personnel. Tesla’s executive responsible for sales said it had “bugged” the company that it was using internal combustion engine vans and so they have worked on their own vehicles. (Futurism)
  • Refused to confirm that it had signed a deal to open a factory in China. Memo: In June the company said it was looking at sites around Shanghai for a new plant. (Reuters)
  • Announced an increase in borrowing capacity from $600 million to $1.1billion. (Tesla)
  • Agreed a pay rise of 30% at its German (formerly Grohmann) division. In return for signing a long term agreement, workers will get a bonus paid in cash and Tesla stock. (Reuters)
  • Some industry experts speculated that the cause of Model 3 production bottlenecks was problems with weld quality on the body in white line because Model 3 uses so much steel -- a material Tesla is less familiar with. (Golem)
  • Dismissed hundreds (estimated at between 400 and 700) of workers for poor performance reviews. Replying to criticism that the separations come at a time when the company is struggling to ramp up Model 3 production, Tesla says that firing underperforming workers raises motivation and increases productivity. (Mercury News)
  • Launched a tailored insurance offering in the US and Canada (sold through a 3rd party for legal reasons), acting on experience from other markets. Tesla has previously said that it believes some insurers do not correctly assess the Model S and X insurance risks and costs. (Elektrek)
  • Said it was recalling 11,000 Model X vehicles to fix problems that could cause the rear seats to fold forward in a crash. (Reuters)
  • Reportedly about 35,000 people have paid the incremental $3,000 for suitably equipped vehicles to enabled “fully self-driving capability” even though no timescale for releasing the feature has been specified. The take rate of enhanced Autopilot is said to be 77%. (Electrek)
  • Delayed the reveal of its Semi truck to 16th November, choosing to divert resources to “fix Model 3 bottlenecks”. It isn’t entirely clear what resources are used for both staging media events and solving manufacturing and supply chain problems -- apart from Elon Musk’s brain. (Business Insider)

September

  • As Model 3 vehicles began arriving in vehicles, videos emerged of Tesla employees demonstrating how the single large display within the vehicle works. By the way, people keeping tabs on Tesla VINs have got to number 313 so far, so they’ve made at least that many now. (Jalopnik)
  • Ending sales of the entry-level Model S 75. Unless things change, Model S and Model X will only come in AWD in the future. The move also sets the new entry level price of a Model S at $74,500. (The Verge)
  • Reportedly working with AMD to create a chipset for autonomous driving incorporating its own proprietary technology, which could allow the company to reduce its reliance on Nvidia. (CNBC)
  • CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company’s semi-truck will be unveiled on 26th (Business Insider)
  • Has created a smaller and lower-powered (and cheaper) supercharger for urban areas. With a rating of 72 kW, the units are still more powerful than most other contemporary installations. (Tesla)
  • New patents for battery swapping stations have recently been filed by Tesla. These appear to show a battery station that can be moved to different areas. (Inside EVs)

August

  • Saw some instance of high discounts and generous financing terms being offered on Model S and X models in the USA (up to $30,000 per vehicle & 0.99% APR) to improve sales figures ahead of the Q3 close. The deals appeared to only relate to vehicles in inventory (which Tesla famously tries to keep to a minimum). (Inside EVs)
  • Said that mass production of solar roof tiles at its Buffalo plant had now begun. (Economic Times of India)
  • Following a growing number of grievances aired by employees in the media, the NLRB (US labour relations board) said it had filed an official complaint against the company. Tesla accused unions of agitation. (Business Insider)
  • CEO Elon Musk said that the company was preparing a software update that would allow owners to use download images and video from their Autopilot system without having to use a dashcam from a 3rd (Electrek)
  • Received criticism of Tesla’s approach to Autopilot that implied Tesla cared more about speed of rollout than safety. In fairness to Tesla, although they have been publicly bullish on their timeline for self-driving software, they haven’t yet released any. (The Verge)
  • After reportedly having conversations with Tesla about their new semi-truck, a truck operator said that the vehicle (to be unveiled next month) will be a day cab (no sleeping space) and will have a range of 200 - 300 miles on a single charge. (Reuters)
  • CEO Elon Musk said that the company would soon store driver profiles in the cloud so that different drivers of the same car could have their settings used without having to manual program them in (and also use different cars). (Futurism)
  • Said it was issuing $1.8 billion in bonds (up from an initial $1.5 billion due to investor appetite) in order to strengthen its balance sheet. The bonds will pay 5.3%. and are due in 2025 (Tesla)
  • Leaked emails showed that Tesla’s semi-truck program intends to make use of self-driving capability and platooning (where the vehicles follows closely behind one another). If Tesla could master automated platooning on highways then, even if the lead vehicle still needed a human driver, costs could be drastically cut on long journeys ahead of developing fully autonomous capability. (Reuters)
  • Revealed that the battery supplier for its Australian stationery storage project would be Samsung SDI. The reason for the shift from Panasonic may be in order to preserve all Gigafactory-produced cells for Model 3. (Electrek)
  • Began shipping an upgraded Autopilot hardware suite as part of Model 3 launch. The main visible difference is an additional camera (facing the driver) but there are also chipset changes which Tesla said are minor but Teslerati speculated are a big step towards the level of computing power needed for full autonomy. (Electrek)
  • CEO Elon Musk said that although new orders for the Model 3 were being made at a rate of 1,800 per day, cancellations and conversions to Model S and X meant that the total order book now stood at 455,000 units. (Business Insider)
  • Said that Model Y will be very similar to Model 3 after all, reversing an earlier course of creating a new platform. (TechCrunch)
  • Confirmed that its director of battery technology has left the company. (Bloomberg)
  • Researchers forecast that Tesla batteries will take around 25 years for state of charge to degrade to 80% of new. The data was gathered from Model X and S vehicles on the road today. Note that in a recent Nissan Leaf trial, the time period was around 10 years (Tesla Roadster batteries also have a shorter lifespan). (InsideEVs)

Q2 Financials (July)

  • Released Q2 2017 financial results. Automotive revenue was almost doubled on a year-over-year basis, although down on the prior quarter. Automotive gross margin of 25.0% was up on a year-over year basis, but down versus the prior quarter. Tesla expects to spend $2 billion in the 2nd half of 2017 as the bill for Model 3 F&T comes due. (Tesla)
  • Reported Q2 production and delivery figures. 22,000 vehicles were delivered, of which around 12,000 were Model S. Although up on a year-over-year basis, the figure was short of market expectations. Tesla reported that a production shortfall of 100 kWh battery packs had constrained supply of vehicles to around 60% of demand during April and May. Tesla issued a follow-up following negative feedback that it had an additional 3,500 vehicles in transit that were not declared as deliveries, but it was unclear whether this number had been in any way inflated by the production hold-up. (More…)

July

  • Held the launch event for the Model 3 where the first 30 cars were handed over. A few new details were confirmed, including: range of 220 miles (expanded to 310 miles for $9k); self-driving autopilot will be an $8k option (same as on Model S/X). During his video presentation, Elon Musk compared Model 3 crash test performance with the Volvo S60, calling the S60 “safe, by Volvo’s standards”. Musk also expressed concern over the “production hell” of the ramp-up. (Mercury News)
  • Security researchers at Tencent demonstrated that they could remotely take control of a Model X and activate systems such as brakes and doors. Both the hackers and Tesla were keen to stress that they regarded the Model X as no less secure than other vehicles. (International Business Times)
  • Consumer Reports announced that it had restored the top safety rating for the Model S following revisions to the automated safety systems in the vehicle. (Futurism)
  • Media reports speculated that Tesla was looking into the application of a larger cylindrical battery in its vehicles despite having only recently unveiled a new battery type for the Model 3. (Inside EVs)
  • Said that the Model 3 will not contain a solar roof to augment charging, saying that there was not enough surface area for current technologies to generate significant charge. (More…)
  • Said that the second of the Rive brothers (cousins of Elon Musk and co-founders of Solar City) had left the company. (More…)
  • Has appointed two new independent directors, fulfilling an earlier promise to shareholders. Both have multi-national and media experience but appear new to technology and capital-intensive manufacturing. (More…)
  • Said that it would expand its servicing infrastructure. Tesla will open 100 new physical servicing sites and add 350 mobile servicing vans. Tesla believes that the two measures will increase servicing capacity threefold. In total, 1,400 technicians will be hired. (More…)
  • Saw concern from investors and media following the Model S failing to achieve the top safety rating in every test set by the IIHS (a US insurance industry testing initiative). The Model S recorded the top rating in all but one test, in which it recorded the 2nd highest rating. Tesla called the test “subjective”. (..)
  • Said that the first production-standard Model 3 had left the factory (More…)
  • Announced that lower-end Model S and Model X vehicles will receive upgrades to improve their acceleration times. (More…)
  • Saw concerns arise over drops in registrations in California and Hong Kong. The local registration reporting lags Tesla’s own sales figures. (More…)
  • Elon Musk showed that Donald Trump isn’t the only one who can do massive deals via Twitter. Tesla has agreed to deliver 100 MW of battery capacity to an Australian utility. If Tesla doesn’t deliver within 100 days, the batteries will be free, showing Tesla is prepared to learn from the takeaway pizza industry. The offer was originally made via a tweet in April (More…)

June

  • Elon Musk revealed that the Model 3 has passed its regulatory tests and handover to the first (very small) batch of customers will take place in late July. He believes that production could reach 20,000 cars per month by December. (..)
  • Tesla has reportedly signed a preliminary agreement to establish local production in China, near Shanghai. (More…)
  • Tesla’s head of Autopilot has left the company. Statements from both Tesla and the individual appeared to blame a clash of cultures and / or personalities. (More…). The head of hardware engineering also left. (More…)
  • Said that it was actively talking to other carmakers about their vehicles using Supercharger facilities. (More…)
  • Tesla clarified that the recent scheme it unveiled to give free supercharging on vehicles purchased by current Tesla owners will only run until the end of 2017 (unless they extend it again). (..)
  • Tesla has won a contract to supply Australian electricity company Transgrid with Powerpack batteries in order to create energy storage that can be used in times of peak demand. (More…)
  • CEO Elon Musk said that all Tesla supercharger locations were being converted to solar and battery energy with the target of disconnecting “almost all” from the grid. He gave no timeline for achieving this. (..)
  • Said that it was on track to deliver the first production Model 3 next month and the online configurator will be launched at the same time, albeit with limited options. (..)
  • Tesla released Model Y teaser images at its annual shareholder meetings. CEO Elon Musk also reportedly said that a new factory would be required to satisfy demand for the vehicle. The exclusive shots appear to confirm that the vehicle will have a roof, front windshield and fenders. (More…)

May

  • CEO Elon Musk quit an advisory council to President Trump after Trump announced the start of the process to withdraw the USA from the Paris Accord. (..)
  • The recently launched range of solar roof tiles have apparently been a roaring success and are sold out “well into 2018”. (should have been reported last week). (..)
  • Following Tesla’s recent press release of the steps it takes to manage worker safety, a report by Worksafe (a California not-for-profit) said that the company’s accident rate and lost time due to accidents was higher than industry average. Tesla have argued that their safety record is improving. (..)
  • CEO Elon Musk tweeted his excitement about the next Autopilot software release. He said that the new control algorithm feels “as smooth as silk”. (..)
  • Saw Consumer Reports reinstate some of the points it docked Tesla after Autopilot 2.0’s emergency braking system proved less capable than earlier versions. Tesla still needs to get the system operational at highway speeds to see its Consumer Reports rating returned to the same level it had before Autopilot 2.0 was released. (..)
  • CEO Elon Musk criticised those holding back the advance of autonomous technology saying that they were “killing people”. (..)
  • Announced that all owners who had purchased vehicles since 1st January would be given free supercharging for life (as was the previous arrangement) rather than a capped yearly amount. As of now, new vehicles sold will have the previously announced capped level of 400 kWh per year. Lifetime charging will still be available for buyers in possession of a special referral code. (..)
  • Started taking orders for its solar roof tiles. The proffered warranty period is infinity or the lifetime of the house. (..)
  • Used its blog to publicise its efforts to improve health and safety in its Freemont plant as part of an effort to stop the UAW campaign for worker representation from gaining momentum. (..)
  • Announced it will offer a service to improve local grids through putting Powerwall and Powerpack batteries into people’s homes and then connecting them. Both the homeowners and the company that owns the batteries will be able to use them for demand smoothing. Tesla already has two pilot projects (50 - 100 units) underway and announced a 2,000 unit project with Green Mountain Power. (..)
  • Media reported on the importance of a $360 per share level for Tesla -- it would able the company to swap debt for equity. (..)
  • Saw concerns over customer deposits dropping quarter-over-quarter. (..)
  • Elon Musk said that the Model Y would be launched in either late 2019 or 2020 and use a different platform and more automated production line than the Model 3. (..), he also said that he believes level 5 autonomy will be a reality within the next two years. (More...)
  • Two Tesla executives have been listed as officers at Redwood materials, a recycling company, amid speculation that Tesla had taken a stake in the firm. (..)
  • Tesla owner forums revealed that Tesla have programmed car electronics so that once they have undergone a high number of supercharger hours (superchargers are rated at around 135 kW), the charge rate is permanently capped. In a widely-used example, a vehicle had its charge rate capped at 90 kW, which Tesla technicians told the owner was in order to protect the battery. (..)
  • Updated owner terms and conditions to allow data sharing of “short video clips” in order to improve autonomous driving technology. Tesla said it would store the data in such a way it was impossible to know which car it was from. (..)
  • Media reported on the importance of a $360 per share level for Tesla -- it would able the company to swap debt for equity. (..)
  • Saw concerns over customer deposits dropping quarter-over-quarter. (..)

Q1 Financials (April)

  • Reported Q1 2017 detailed financial results. Automotive revenue of $2.289 billion was up 123% YoY. Automotive gross margin was 27.4%, The business (including the newly consolidated Solar City) made a net loss of $(397) million. Give an update on Model 3 saying it hoped to be producing 5,000 per week “ at some point in 2017” and have increased production to 10,000 units per week at “some point in 2018” (..)
  • Reported Q1 2017 vehicle sales of “just over 25,000” vehicles (of which ~13,450 Model S, 11,550 Model X). This was a record performance although not far above Q3 2016. Sales trend since late 2015 indicates that Model S sales rate may have peaked. Production was reported as 25,418 units - some way below Tesla’s claimed capacity of about 3k units per week (35k units for the same period).

April

  • Announced that it would double the charging network in 2017 and upgrade existing stations. By the end of the year, Tesla aims to have 10,000 superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers worldwide. (..)
  • Lost its Consumer Reports top rating because it has not installed emergency braking and collision avoidance as standard. Tesla has said that it will install the capability via over the air updates and Consumer Reports may revisit its rating if that happens. (..)
  • At the Vancouver TED conference, Elon Musk teased some details of the Tesla heavy truck and said that four new Gigafactory sites could be announced in 2017. (..)
  • The founder of Grohmann (the German manufacturing engineering company that Tesla recently purchased) has left, reportedly over a dispute about the strategy for the division become exclusive to Tesla and drop existing clients including Daimler and BMW. (..)
  • Saw media speculation that it is putting the launch of the Model 3 at risk by ordering final production tools ahead of the completion of production verification steps. (..)
  • Launched a recall of around 53,000 vehicles in order to repair brake problems caused by faulty parts from supplier Brembo. (..)
  • German media speculation that employees at Tesla’s new German subsidiary (formerly Grohmann Engineering) might strike due to dissatisfaction with their pay. (..)
  • Media reports of a chemical spill at the Gigafactory (battery factory) were revealed to be the spillage of a drum of “standard construction cleaning solvent” rather than any production line related chemicals. (..)
  • Saw a class-action lawsuit launched over the safety of Autopilot 2.0. The lawsuit represents 3 Tesla owners and has been dismissed by the company as disingenuous. (..)
  • Saw speculation, based on Tesla’s applications for building permits in California, that the company might have a design for an automated charging facility. (..)
  • Announced pricing and line-up changes that saw it drop the entry-level 60kWh Model S (which had a 75kWh battery that could be activated for an additional fee) and a drop in the price of the now entry-level 75kWh. (..)
  • Saw criticism in an open letter from shareholders who called for a more independent board of directors. Elon Musk said that he wanted to make the board more independent anyway and compared Tesla’s governance favourably to Ford. (..)
  • Elon Musk said that Tesla will unveil its Semi Truck (heavy goods vehicle) in September, saying that the company had done an “amazing job” He also said that the pickup truck would be unveiled in 18 to 24 months. (..)
  • Substantial media coverage of Tesla overtaking Ford and GM stock market valuations following its Q1 delivery figures (Source)
  • Absence of concrete data saw speculation around Model 3 pricing, one analyst reportedly used information on almost 8,000 Model 3 reservation holders to arrive at a revenue of between $45,000 and $55,000 per vehicle. Elon Musk has previously spoken of revenue in the low $40k range. (Source)

March

  • Announced that Chinese internet company Tencent had purchased a 5% stake in Tesla.
  • Elon Musk reportedly said that the Model Y and new Roadster will not arrive “for a few years yet”
  • Software release 8.1 enabled further capabilities in Autopilot, which is reportedly now using 2 of the 8 cameras in latest-specification vehicles in active mode. New features include: Summon (car moves in and out of parking spot without the driver), Higher speed auto steering (80mph vs 55mph), Auto Lane Changing (only when auto steer is active).
  • Announced that Tesla models receive a sketchpad app in the v8.1 software release by publishing a picture of a farting unicorn (sounds like a bad April fool’s joke)
  • Tesla’s VP of Autopilot Vision, David Nistér, has left to join Nvidia.