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.

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis (note: As of Q1 2019, Tesla stopped reporting Model S and Model X separately)

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis (Automotive revenue only -- includes leasing)

In addition to the volume and revenue per unit trend, Tesla's customer deposit and net property figures are also interesting. The customer deposits reflect the pent-up demand for products that Tesla has yet to launch or is experiencing capacity constraints on (note that deposit amounts are not constant by model). The net proprty figure shows the rate at which Tesla is building a capital intensity consistent with, or even higher than, traditional automotive manufacturers (note: Ford and GM have around $35 billion of net automotive property).

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis

Source: Company Reports, Ad Punctum Analysis (note: as of Q1 2019 this includes Operating Leases)

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

Tesla's Volume Outlook

OCTOBER 2017: We believe that Model S and X volumes will only grow slightly and Model 3 will sell around 200,000 units per year -- not insignificant, but well short of expectations. Overall sales would be around 300,000 units annually.

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

2019

July

  • Further tinkered with the line-up and pricing, offering only two derivatives of the Model S and Model X. (Reuters)
  • Disgruntled employees said that Tesla had cut corners with Model 3 production, citing several quick fixes applied lineside to keep production moving, such as using sticky tape to keep parts in place. (CNBC)
  • A leaked internal email suggested further production increases at the Fremont, USA, factory and a full year 2019 production target of far more than 400,000 cars. (Bloomberg)
  • CEO Musk said that customers shouldn’t expect a refreshed Model S or Model X and that only a series of “minor ongoing changes” were planned. (Business Insider)
  • Seeking a restraining order from a researcher aligned to a group of Tesla short sellers. Tesla say the man, who tries to count car deliveries and shadows autonomous test vehicles, puts their employees at risk. (Detroit News)
  • A Tesla supplier is reportedly preparing to double shipments to Tesla, setting tongues wagging about an explosion of Model 3 volume. The other possibility is that it has won some work from other suppliers (or the whole thing is an inaccurate rumour). (Digitimes)
  • Elon Musk said prices for Tesla cars would rise “significantly” when the company has cracked the self-driving problem because they would be capable of functioning as robotaxis and would thus be far more valuable. (Electrek)

Q2 2019 Financial Results

  • Reported Q2 2019 deliveries of 95,200 cars, up 34% on a year-over-year basis. Tesla said orders were being placed more quickly than they could build cars but declined to provide specifics (although the balance sheet contains clues). Tesla will stop reporting the number of cars in transit inventory. Model S and X remained weak. (Tesla)

June

  • News media picked up on a Tesla team dedicated to advanced battery research and questioned Tesla’s commitment to its long-term relationship with Panasonic. It wasn’t clear whether the work in question was any different to the normal type of advanced R&D that most OEMs do, which often overlaps with products that are externally supplied once mass production begins (or indeed, if it relates to cars at all). (CNBC)
  • Tesla’s head of production left (to work down the road for Lucid). (Electrek)
  • Leaked documents apparently show that Tesla won’t meet the quarterly production targets CEO Musk set for employees in May, Musk’s recent comments imply he still has faith. (Business Insider)
  • Reportedly restructuring its Asia Pacific sales operations so that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan will be a distinct division and the other markets will report into head office. (Bloomberg)
  • Tesla’s Grohmann (manufacturing engineering) division is developing a “giant, giant, giant” machine that will revolutionise manufacturing as we know it, according to the head of automotive. (Clean Technica)
  • CEO Musk told shareholders that Tesla had a “decent short at a record quarter on every level” and stressed that there was absolutely no demand problem for the firm’s cars. None whatsoever. The steep drop in Model S and X volumes is not relevant. (CNBC)
  • In off the cuff remarks, CEO Musk suggested that at very high production levels it could make sense for Tesla to own mines and guarantee supplies of raw materials. (TechCrunch)
  • Will enter the insurance market soon, pending an unspecified acquisition that Tesla needs to make. (CNBC)

May

  • CEO Musk exhorted employees to catch up on vehicle deliveries and help Tesla to achieve a record quarter. (Reuters)
  • Rumoured to be combining Model S and X production onto a single line to make room for facilities to make the Model Y. A refreshed Model S is rumoured to be on the way for September. (CNBC)
  • Elon Musk implied that the forthcoming Tesla pick-up truck will have a retail price of under $50,000. (Inside EVs)
  • Started to take orders for Chinese-built Model 3 vehicles, which will be cheaper than the imported version. (Reuters)
  • CEO Elon Musk told employees that there had been more than 50,000 orders in the second quarter so far and that the current production rate of Model 3 was about 900 cars per day. (Business Insider)
  • An investment analyst says he has it on good authority that Apple wanted to buy Tesla for $240 a share in 2013, and that the interest may be re-ignited given recent falls in Tesla’s share price. (CNBC)
  • Will only let owners charge until their batteries are 80% full at some charging stations, to reduce queues. Tesla says that charging less, together with higher peak charging rates, will increase capacity by 34%. (Economic Times of India)
  • CEO Musk told employees in a call-to-arms email that the company had only ten months of cash left, at the current burn rate, and announced restrictions on spending. (Electrek)
  • Slightly increased the price of the entry level Model 3 to $35,400 -- still $35,000 if you round down. (CNN)
  • The US Safety regulator said it was investigating a fatal accident where a Model 3 had been in Autopilot mode leading up to the crash. (Reuters)
  • Completed the acquisition of Maxwell Technologies. (Tesla)
  • Moved production of superchargers to the under-utilised Gigafactory 2 plant. (Reuters)
  • After the recent demonstration of how amazing Tesla’s progress in self-driving technology is, reports emerged of an internal restructuring that suggest all was not so rosy. (Electrek)

April

  • Tesla’s purchasing team believes that there will soon be a shortage of raw materials for batteries, hence why the automaker is trying to partner directly with mines to ensure supply. (Reuters)
  • Decided to raise $2.3 billion through a mixture of new shares and debt. (Tesla) In the end, investors were more generous than expected and Tesla got $2.7 billion. (CNBC)
  • Being sued by the family of a US driver killed whilst his vehicle was using the Autopilot driver assistance system, who are in effect accusing the firm of negligence. (Economic Times of India)
  • FCA will spend about €1.8 billion on emissions credits in “various jurisdictions” that will be used up to 2023. FCA didn’t break out the exact amount of this that applies to Tesla (but it seems likely to be most of it). (FCA)
  • Held an investor day focused on the self-driving hardware and software Tesla has been developing. Tesla has developed new hardware with impressive power consumption and cost performance BUT… the hardware is dedicated to a (neural net based) self-driving software architecture that hasn’t yet proved itself. CEO Musk tried to bat away concerns over missing lidar sensors (which the chipset CANNOT accommodate) calling the technology “a fool’s errand”. Tesla explained the way in which training data harvested from the fleet is used to build understanding of safe driving techniques and then said it would all be used to build a robotaxi business. (Tesla)
  • At the investor day, Musk said that a next generation chipset for self-driving was already halfway developed and mentioned a mysterious supercomputer called Dojo several times, on each occasion implying it was a slip of the tongue and he had already said too much. (Tesla)
  • On the earnings call, CEO Musk said there was “merit” in raising capital. He revealed that Tesla intends to create an insurance product that will launch soon. He also believes that the low deliveries for Models S and X in Q1 were a blip and demand will return to around 100,000 units per year. Musk admitted that the approach in Q1 of batch building cars by region was “insane”, but didn’t explain why the company had decided to do it that way. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Musk reached agreement with the SEC over the type of comments he needs to have vetted before publishing, but a judge’s approval is needed before it comes into force. (NYT)
  • Continued to tinker with the Model S and Model X line-up, offering an increase to the maximum battery range and restoring entry-level products that had only recently been cut. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said that Tesla’s latest iteration of Autopilot would have redundancy through two processing chips, however upon questioning he conceded that the chips and processing logic were identical so the redundancy is akin to having two engines, not independent decision making (at 9:30 on video). Once full self-driving is released, Tesla drivers will still have to keep their hands on the wheel until Tesla can determine that the system operates safely, a time period Musk predicts as six months (18:00 on video). (Lex Fridman)
  • Released an environmental impact report. (Tesla)
  • Investigating a fire in a stationary Chinese vehicle that went viral. (Reuters)
  • Planmning to shrink the size of the board down to seven and reduce the term to two years (from three). When the moves are complete, in around 2021, Tesla will have three independent directors. (CNN)
  • The $35,000 version of the Model 3 has been withdrawn from the website and will only be available by ordering in stores or over the phone. Tesla confirmed that the car will actually be the same as the $39,500 “Standard Plus” model but several features, including the full battery range, will be disabled via software. All cars will now come with Autopilot software enabled as standard. (Tesla)
  • Announced a leasing program for the Model 3 but, unusually, said that customers would not have the option of purchasing the car because the cars are destined for the Tesla ride-hailing network. (Tesla)
  • FCA and Tesla will pool their vehicles for the purposes of EU CO2 emissions calculations in a deal said to be worth hundreds of millions. (FT)
  • A US Judge told the SEC to resolve their dispute with Elon Musk amicably. (Reuters)
  • Holding an investor day on 22nd April to provide a “deep dive” into the technology set and strategy. (Tesla)

Q1 2019 Financial Results

  • Delivered 63,000 units in Q1 2019, up 100% versus a year prior but down (31)% on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Tesla suggested that there were an usually high number of vehicles in transit, but a heavy drop in Model S and X seemed to be responsible too. Tesla has now stopped giving separate figures for the two older vehicle lines and said it would still deliver 360,000 - 400,000 cars in 2019. (Tesla)
  • Released financial results for Q1 2019. Automotive revenue of $3.7 billion was up 36% on a year-over-year basis but down (41)% versus prior quarter. Tesla recorded a $(645) million loss before tax and used up over $(1.5) billion of cash, but said the rest of 2019 should be better. (Tesla)

March

  • CEO Musk told staff that the firm will continue to open new stores, providing they do enough to advance interest in the brand and sell cars. (CNBC)
  • After Musk failed to master the finer points of the new return policy, Tesla decided that it was the policy that was wrong and changed it to come into line with his comments on Twitter. (The Verge)
  • Bloomberg thinks Tesla may have built 80,000 Model 3 in Q1 2019, but the model could be wrong because it is experimental, but if it is right then it is totally genius, but if not it’s just one of those things. (Bloomberg)
  • Removed the bottom end Model S, further separating the car from Model 3. (Business Insider) The mid-range Model 3 has also been abandoned. (Green Car Reports)
  • Launched a new referral program with substantially lower value rewards. (Tesla)
  • The SEC said that CEO Musk had not sought approval for a single tweet made since his agreement to do so in return for being let off more serious penalties following his “funding secured” debacle. (Reuters)
  • Filed lawsuits against ex-employees working at Zoox and XPENG, alleging they stole Tesla’s know-how. (The Verge)
  • CEO Musk declared deliveries to be the primary responsibility of all employees for the remainder of Q1. (Reuters)
  • Revised the maintenance policy to replace annual checks with a looser “as required” scheme. (Tesla). As of 25th March, Tesla had not made the change in all markets (see UK example)
  • Unveiled the Model Y, an SUV based on the Model 3 (vloggers struggled to differentiate the cabins of the two models). Tesla says the starting price will be $39,000 from 2021 onwards but more expensive versions will be available in 2020. Unlike the Model 3, the car will have a 7-seat option. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk forecast that Model Y would outsell Models S, X and 3 combined . (Tesla)
  • Markets gave the Model Y unveil a lukewarm response, with some analysts suggesting it was a smokescreen to distract from ongoing problems with achieving profit and sales targets from existing products. (Reuters)
  • The release of the $35,000 Model 3 has seen waiting times lengthen -- but only to around two months. (Electrek)
  • Leaked emails suggest CEO Musk can create bureaucratic slowdown with the best of them by revealing that all new hiring requests must be signed off by him personally. (Business Insider)
  • Workers at the Gigafactory have complained that Tesla makes them take unpaid time off when production stops due to a shortage of supplier parts. (CNBC)
  • After making price cuts and announcing a move to online only sales, Tesla abruptly reversed course, increased prices and said it would only close some stores. (Tesla)
  • The third generation of supercharger offers a 250 kW rate. Tesla will start shipping the new units in 2019 and says it can offer the “fastest production charging experience”, something that may confuse users of 350 kW stations from the likes of Porsche. (Tesla)
  • German regulators told Tesla to end its practice of including estimated savings from using electricity in lieu of fuel as a method of lowering the headline price. (Reuters)
  • Secured funding from Chinese lenders for the initial Shanghai factory costs. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said that although the $35,000 Model 3 would enter production this month, it will not be widely available for some time. (Reuters)
  • Investors threw a giant wobbly over news that Model 3 imports were being blocked by Chinese customs officials. Tesla said the problem was down to labelling and the World moved on. (Reuters)

February

  • Put a $35,000 version of the Model 3 on sale, accompanied by a new $37,000 derivative with slightly more equipment that Tesla hopes customers will buy instead. (Tesla)
  • Anecdotal feedback from would-be Model 3 owners says that Tesla is taking many months to process deposit returns if they decide they no longer wish to order the vehicle and that multiple follow-ups are necessary to get the company to act. Tesla wouldn’t say how long it takes on average to process refund returns. (Detroit News)
  • Rebalanced the features in driver assistance (“Autopilot”) options so that the base $3,000 system capability is similar to those of other brands. Navigating highway slip roads and interchanges and remote parking are now only available by subscribing to the more expensive “full self-driving” pack. (Business Insider) After the move, Tesla offered owners a cut price deal to upgrade. (Tesla)
  • Paid a $920 million bond in cash (as Tesla said it probably would). (CNBC)
  • Will only sell cars through online and telephone channels (some high traffic locations will remain open). Tesla says the move will save about 6% of revenue and allow it to return the saving to customers. As an enabler to the change, Tesla is creating a seven day, 1,000 mile no hassle return program and says it will improve mobile servicing. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said in an internal email that 78% of Model 3 orders were made online and 82% of customers did not have any test drive as part of the justification for the move to online sales. Since the car was initially only released online and production problems meant few demonstrator vehicles were initially available, these figures may be less compelling than they seem. It is unclear what the comparable figures for Model S and X are. (Clean Technica)
  • Set a 14th March date for the unveiling of the Model Y SUV. (Elon Musk)
  • The SEC asked a US judge to hold CEO Musk in contempt of the earlier deal that followed incorrect statements about funds to take Tesla private after he sent erroneous tweets about 2019 production figures. (Reuters)
  • Looking into a leasing product for the Model 3. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk said that Tesla vehicles would have fully autonomous driving by the end of 2019 and the company might even be comfortable with owners falling asleep at the wheel by 2020. (ARK Invest)
  • Tesla’s general counsel left, two months after being appointed. (Reuters)
  • Suffered a small fire at the Fremont factory that Tesla said had no impact on production. (CNBC)
  • Deep cuts in the team that mans Tesla’s Nevada distribution centre (150 out of 230 apparently made redundant) led to speculation that US demand in 2019 will be far lower than 2018. (Reuters)

January

  • Tesla’s deposits continued to fall (see historical chart here), even though new products (Semi and Roadster) carry very high reservation fees and the entry of Model 3 into production must have boosted accruals. On the conference call, Tesla’s CFO batted away questions about reservation numbers saying they were “not relevant”. (Tesla)
  • Expects to build the Model Y at the Gigafactory in Nevada, rather than Fremont. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Is now talking about 10,000 units per week of Model 3 from Fremont and Shanghai combined, walking back from original comments about US production capacity targets. CEO Musk believes that even in a recession there is annual demand for 500,000 Model 3. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Tesla’s CFO retired (again), to be replaced by 34 year old company veteran Zack Kirkhorn. (Bloomberg)
  • Changed the naming convention of Model S and X vehicles so that the battery size is no longer mentioned and instead range is expressed in qualitative terms. (Clean Technica)
  • Buying ultracapacitor firm Maxwell Technologies for $218 million. (CNBC)
  • Cutting production hours for Model S and Model X after dropping the 75 kWh derivatives. Tesla also said it was because of improved productivity. (Reuters)
  • Received a fine for safety problems in the “tent” Model 3 assembly area. The citations were for improper permits, training and risk assessment, not because accidents had taken place. Tesla objected. (Business Insider)
  • Tesla confirmed that it has been discussing a battery supply contract with Lishen. Although the news was received with horror by some Panasonic-watchers, Elon Musk has repeatedly said that Tesla talks with all the battery suppliers and Samsung have provided batteries for its wall units. (Reuters)
  • Announcing plans for a (7)% reduction in headcount, CEO Musk told employees that there would be a small Q4 2018 profit but said he was worried that favourable mix of high-series Model 3 was flattering the results and operational cost needed to be reduced to provide lower-priced Model 3 derivatives. The company will retain only “the most critical” temporary employees and contractors. (Tesla)
  • Released a new mobile, plug-in, charging unit with a 9.6kW rating. The catch is that you need a special type of plug socket so unless customers have already installed these, the new product doesn’t save on electrician fees. (Tesla)
  • Launched another round of charging station price increases and moved to differentiated pricing by station rather than region, increasing revenue from more popular spots. (Electrek)
  • Started installing automatic barriers in Chinese supercharger locations that will only lower if the owner uses an app identifying the car as a Tesla. Although the internet was quick to brand the equipment as a potential solution to US pick-up truck owners blocking charging bays, they may want to remind themselves of the ground clearance these vehicles appeared to possess. (Electrek)
  • Ending the customer referral program, citing affordability. (Reuters)
  • New car buyers can reportedly still pre-order the fully self-driving feature by emailing Tesla directly but sales advisors are warning anyone who does that it could be a “very long time” before the feature is usable. (Electrek)
  • CEO Musk suggested the forthcoming Roadster would have a hover function going so far as to outline a potential power mechanism and package. But nobody was sure why. (Electrek)
  • Will only offer Model S and Model X with 100 kWh battery packs, dropping the 75 kWh version. (Elon Musk)
  • Tesla’s public relations team appears to be shifting towards the same kind of media-grooming expected of mainstream automakers, recently inviting selected journalists to the Alaskan cold weather testing facility it uses in exchange for glowing reviews. (CNET)
  • Broke ground on the new Shanghai factory. (Bloomberg)

2018

FY & Q4 2018 Earnings

  • Q4 deliveries were 90,700 vehicles, of which 61,394 were Model 3. Model S sales continued to fall on a trend basis as the product ages and, possibly, customers opt for the cheaper Model 3. Model X continues to grow. Tesla also announced a $2,000 per unit price reduction in the US to partially offset the $3,750 drop in federal tax credits. The company said the year-end production rate was around 350,000 units annually, implying current Model 3 production of around 5,500 cars per week. (Tesla)
  • Reported financial results for Q4 2018. Automotive revenue of $6.3 billion was up 134% on a year-over-year basis and 4% quarter-over-quarter. Income from operations was $413 million and net income was $139 million, both much improved versus losses in 2017. (Tesla)

December

  • CEO Musk promised 100% supercharger coverage for European customers. (Futurism)
  • According to leaked internal emails, Tesla has stepped up its internal testing program for a new level of self-driving software and plans to retrofit new computers to existing cars but will not need to adjust the sensor set. (Inverse)
  • Increased the number of independent board directors to fulfil Tesla’s settlement with the SEC. (Reuters)
  • Will refund US customers who receive lower tax rebates because of delivery delays (Tesla owners will be entitled to less money after 31st December because the company has made so many electric cars). (Reuters)
  • Sending a message to those who might be tempted to mess with the company by suing a former employee, who CEO Musk called a “saboteur” for $167 million. (CNBC)
  • An unflattering expose into Elon Musk’s behaviour suggested he was rude to people and sometimes ordered that they be made redundant with only minor provocation. (Wired)
  • CEO Musk said Tesla would possibly be interested in taking over idled or closed plants from other carmakers. He also commented that despite his settlement with the SEC, he does not respect the market regulator and no one checks his tweets before he sends them, although he clarified that he would need to if he was sending any messages that could be market moving. He expects that the $35,000 Model 3 could be available in five or six months (but said it wasn’t a promise). (CBS)
  • Documents that Tesla called “outdated” reportedly called for the forthcoming Model Y to reach production volumes of 12,000 vehicles per week by 2021 from two factories in the US and China. (Business Insider)

November

  • CEO Musk said Tesla was “single digit weeks” from bankruptcy earlier in 2018. Since there were no concerns raised about the firm’s ability to continue as a going concern in SEC filings over the same period, investors are left to speculate whether this was hyperbole or there is a problem with Tesla’s reporting standards. (Business Insider)
  • Announced that Tesla owners have now driven a cumulative 1 billion miles with Autopilot driver assistance systems active in the vehicle. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Disputed reports that October sales in China plummeted (70)%. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk set off speculation of a tie-up with Daimler on electric vans by saying on Twitter than he would enquire about sharing the Sprinter electric model. Musk seemingly made no mention of Tesla’s earlier stated plan to build its own vans on the Model S / X platform. (Reuters)
  • Rolled back much of a Chinese price increase imposed to recover higher tariffs. Tesla said it wanted to keep the cars affordable, an alternative explanation is that the company exceeded the limits of its pricing power. (Business Insider)
  • Bought “some trucking companies” to ensure it has enough capacity to deliver vehicles in the USA before the 31st December cut off for more generous purchase incentives. (TechCrunch)
  • CEO Musk used an internal email to motivate his employees to produce a consistent rate of 50 Model 3 cars per hour from the end of November onwards. (Electrek)
  • Stopped offering (limited) free Supercharger access for Model S and X buyers. (Electrek)
  • Increased the price of Autopilot after the car has been purchased. It now costs $7,000 ($5,000 when new), but Tesla seems to be offering a series of time-limited discounts where the price can fall to $5,500. (Green Car Reports)
  • Announced that Robyn Denholm (currently a director) has been appointed as Tesla’s new board chair. Once she has served the six month notice period with her current employer, she will take on the role full time. (Tesla)
  • A survey of electric car owners suggested that Tesla has a customer loyalty rate (i.e. a Tesla owner who intends to buy a Tesla as their next car) of over 80% in North America and Europe. (Clean Technica)

October

  • Will soon release an update to enable limited low speed autonomy, primarily for parking but also, per CEO Musk, updated cars will “follow you like a pet” if you walk around whilst holding down a button in your app (the car tracks your phone location). Expect a rash of videos by YouTube influencers leading their pet Teslas on hysterical adventures in the coming weeks. (Twitter)
  • GM’s CEO thinks it is “highly possible” that Tesla will be around in 10 years. (Reuters) Tesla’s CEO says Ford has a “good chance” of failing in the next recession. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Booked $190 million in regulatory credits in Q3 2018. (Reuters)
  • CEO Musk said the design of Tesla’s forthcoming pick-up truck will be “futuristic-like cyberpunk”. Producers of online renderings if Model X’s with pick-up beds wondered if they had wasted their time. (Inverse)
  • Plans a partial presence in India, Africa and South America by the end of 2019 and believes that region sourcing (i.e. from the same continent) is “critical” to affordable pricing. (Economic Times of India)
  • CEO Musk is anti-electric scooter but open to electric bicycle production. (TechCrunch)
  • During the earnings call, Tesla confirmed that it intends to launch an autonomous ride hailing network that will run both customer-owned and Tesla-owner cars. Elon Musk speculated at a 30% cut for Tesla on the billings of customer-owned vehicles. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Intends to reduce delivery times from factory gate release to customer handover to under 10 days for North American vehicles. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Believes latent demand for Model 3 is between 500,000 and 1 million vehicles per year, seeing BMW 3 Series as a competitor it should outsell. (Seeking Alpha)
  • CEO Musk said “many” interior options for Model S and Model X will be dropped from the start of November. He said this was to simplify production. (Business Insider)
  • Tesla’s new factory in China will produce two models, according to environmental assessments. (Reuters)
  • The US state of Oregon clawed back tax credits awarded to Tesla solar power projects saying costs had been inflated. Tesla denied any wrongdoing, but also pointed out this had happened prior to the SolarCity takeover. (CNBC)
  • Under investigation by the FBI for the statements it made around Model 3 production. (Economic Times of India)
  • CEO Musk said the company will begin installing a new driver assistance chip in about six months. Buyers who have already pre-paid for “self-driving” will receive the chip free of charge. For anyone else, it will cost $5,000 to have the upgrade (presumably including software updates). (Reuters)
  • Launched a derivative of the Model 3 with a smaller battery and a $45,000 starting price. (Wired)
  • Purchased the land for its new factory in Shanghai, China. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk said he had just realised there were major gaps in the servicing coverage for customers in North America, promising to sort the problem out within 3 to 6 months. (Clean Technica)
  • Removed the ability to pre-order “full self-driving” on cars, despite having announced an improved driver assistance chip. Elon Musk said the option was causing too much confusion. (The Verge)
  • Customers in the US wishing to qualify for a full-fat federal tax credit had to order cars by the 15th (Reuters)
  • Reportedly struggling to maintain production of Model 5,000 units per week. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk denied that James Murdoch was in the running to replace him as Chairman. (Bloomberg)
  • Registered trademarks for a Tesla-branded Tequila. (Business Insider)
  • CEO Musk ranted about shortsellers and the investors who lend them shares to short, saying there was “no rational basis for a long holder to lend their stock”. (CNBC)
  • shed its safety report for Q3 2018. The data was very vague, specifying only per mile occurrence rather than gross figures for fleet mileage or accidents. Tesla say their driver assistance systems reduced the likelihood of accidents by almost half but comparison to average statistics was made more difficult by Tesla recording, but not separately reporting “crash-like” events (i.e. where there wasn’t actually a crash). (Tesla)
  • An article highlighted stocks of Teslas at various distribution points across the USA, suggesting the numbers pointed to unacknowledged problems. More likely, they are simply appropriate for the volume of Model 3 being produced and Tesla’s lack of third-party inventory. (New York Times)
  • Model 3 received standout crash test results from US agency NHTSA. For some reason, Tesla chose comparison videos for older competitor cars to highlight the relative performance gap (for instance a 2016MY Lexus ES when there is a new car for the 2019MY). (Tesla)

Q3 2018 Financial Results

  • Reported financial results for Q3 2018. Revenue of $6.8 billion was up 129% on a year-over-year basis, explained by higher shipments. Net income of $312 million was almost $1 billion better than Q3 2017. Tesla also had positive cash flow. (Tesla)
  • Reported Q3 deliveries of 83,500 vehicles. Model 3 shipped 55,840 units and 53,239 vehicles were made during the quarter. There were 14,470 Model S and 13,190 Model X vehicles delivered, indicating that demand for both has plateaued. The firm complained about its cost disadvantage in China. (Tesla)

September

  • Elon Musk agreed to step down as Tesla’s chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine, Tesla will pay a matching sum after the SEC claimed his statements about secured funding had been “false and misleading”. The regulator had initially threatened to make Musk step down from all board roles at publicly traded companies. (BBC)
  • Reportedly has requested 100 company employees as volunteers for full self driving versions of the Autopilot software. The program will run until the end of 2019, suggesting no retail launch before then. (The Verge)
  • According to internal emails, profitability in Q3 is within reach, but it all depended on a really great performance on Sunday 30th (Business Insider)
  • CEO Musk said Tesla is building its own car carrying trailers because of an extreme shortage. (Business Insider)
  • Signed a three year agreement with lithium miner Ganfeng Lithium. (Economic Times of India)
  • Culling two colours to make manufacturing simpler, but since the colours involved were (highly popular) black and silver and the ability to order “but at a higher price” remains, the move looks more like a way to raise revenue than streamline operations. (Economic Times of India)
  • Has gone from “production hell to delivery logistics hell” per CEO Musk. Since worldwide distribution of half a million or so vehicles from a single plant is not unknown in the automotive industry, it is not clear whether Tesla faces truly unique problems or has simply failed to plan and execute properly. (Reuters)
  • Tesla said it was selling the final vehicles that would benefit from lifetime supercharger access. (Electrek)
  • A small fire stopped work at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory for a few hours. (Reuters)
  • Elon Musk said Tesla was aiming to bring repairs in-house with a target repair time of less than a day. (Reuters)
  • Tesla’s chief accounting officer resigned after only a month on the job. A bland statement released by Tesla said he still believed in the company and there were no problems with the accounts. Reporters said he felt disrespected by Musk and that people weren’t properly listening to his advice. (CNBC)
  • Created a new position of automotive president, appointing a current executive. In the announcement, which also covered several other executive moves, CEO Musk said Tesla was expecting to build and deliver more than twice as many cars as in Q2 2018. (Tesla)
  • Elon Musk gave an extended interview in a 2 hour 40 minute podcast where he talked about his various business ventures and outlook on life. Commentators were more interested in a 20 second segment (from 2:10:25) where he took a drag on a marijuana joint. (YouTube)

August

  • Experienced network connectivity issues with access to some functions, repeating an issue seen a couple of years ago. Driving using the key was not affected, good news for everyone except Model 3 owners. (Electrek)
  • Reduced the price difference between specifying driver assistance features before delivery and activating them later to $500, from $1,000 previously. The move is supposedly only temporary until the end of September and is surely not an attempt to improve earnings before the quarter end. (Electrek)
  • Reportedly struggling to reach the production targets for Model 3 Tesla set after declaring it had reached 5,000 units per week -- and has been unable to even sustain that level. (Electrek) Unless you believe that the company is comfortably exceeding 5,000 units per week and may be up to 6,000 per week as planned. (Detroit News)
  • Added a new pin-to-drive feature to overcome weaknesses in security that allow car thieves to hijack the signal from the key and steal the vehicle. (Electrek)
  • Elon Musk said he was no longer interested in taking the company private, citing unforeseen time consuming and complicated responsibilities that come with running a private company. (Tesla)
  • Leaked internal documents suggested Model 3 had a first time through quality rate of around 15% -- about the same as an underperforming car plant in the late 1990s. Since first time through refers to corrections made at the end of the assembly line, it is an indicator of productivity and not a suggestion of low outgoing quality. (Business Insider)
  • Despite Tesla’s other troubles, a recent audit of the Las Vegas Gigafactory said that hiring was taking place at the expected rate to justify receiving tax credits from the local government. (Electrek)
  • Testing data collected from driver logs suggested that the 75 kWh Model 3 has a superior combination of charging time and consumption compared with top specification Model S and X. (ABRP)
  • A Bloomberg columnist took it upon themselves to ask former Ford CEO Alan Mulally whether he would like the top job at Tesla and received an equivocal response. (Bloomberg)
  • One of the companies reportedly prepared to invest in a bid to take Tesla private was VW. (WSJ)
  • 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.

March

  • Workers at the Gigafactory have complained that Tesla makes them take unpaid time off when production stops due to a shortage of supplier parts. (CNBC)
  • After making price cuts and announcing a move to online only sales, Tesla abruptly reversed course, increased prices and said it would only close some stores. (Tesla)
  • The third generation of supercharger offers a 250 kW rate. Tesla will start shipping the new units in 2019 and says it can offer the “fastest production charging experience”, something that may confuse users of 350 kW stations from the likes of Porsche. (Tesla)
  • German regulators told Tesla to end its practice of including estimated savings from using electricity in lieu of fuel as a method of lowering the headline price. (Reuters)
  • Secured funding from Chinese lenders for the initial Shanghai factory costs. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said that although the $35,000 Model 3 would enter production this month, it will not be widely available for some time. (Reuters)
  • Investors threw a giant wobbly over news that Model 3 imports were being blocked by Chinese customs officials. Tesla said the problem was down to labelling and the World moved on. (Reuters)

February

  • Put a $35,000 version of the Model 3 on sale, accompanied by a new $37,000 derivative with slightly more equipment that Tesla hopes customers will buy instead. (Tesla)
  • Anecdotal feedback from would-be Model 3 owners says that Tesla is taking many months to process deposit returns if they decide they no longer wish to order the vehicle and that multiple follow-ups are necessary to get the company to act. Tesla wouldn’t say how long it takes on average to process refund returns. (Detroit News)
  • Rebalanced the features in driver assistance (“Autopilot”) options so that the base $3,000 system capability is similar to those of other brands. Navigating highway slip roads and interchanges and remote parking are now only available by subscribing to the more expensive “full self-driving” pack. (Business Insider) After the move, Tesla offered owners a cut price deal to upgrade. (Tesla)
  • Paid a $920 million bond in cash (as Tesla said it probably would). (CNBC)
  • Will only sell cars through online and telephone channels (some high traffic locations will remain open). Tesla says the move will save about 6% of revenue and allow it to return the saving to customers. As an enabler to the change, Tesla is creating a seven day, 1,000 mile no hassle return program and says it will improve mobile servicing. (Tesla)
  • CEO Musk said in an internal email that 78% of Model 3 orders were made online and 82% of customers did not have any test drive as part of the justification for the move to online sales. Since the car was initially only released online and production problems meant few demonstrator vehicles were initially available, these figures may be less compelling than they seem. It is unclear what the comparable figures for Model S and X are. (Clean Technica)
  • Set a 14th March date for the unveiling of the Model Y SUV. (Elon Musk)
  • The SEC asked a US judge to hold CEO Musk in contempt of the earlier deal that followed incorrect statements about funds to take Tesla private after he sent erroneous tweets about 2019 production figures. (Reuters)
  • Looking into a leasing product for the Model 3. (CNBC)
  • CEO Musk said that Tesla vehicles would have fully autonomous driving by the end of 2019 and the company might even be comfortable with owners falling asleep at the wheel by 2020. (ARK Invest)
  • Tesla’s general counsel left, two months after being appointed. (Reuters)
  • Suffered a small fire at the Fremont factory that Tesla said had no impact on production. (CNBC)
  • Deep cuts in the team that mans Tesla’s Nevada distribution centre (150 out of 230 apparently made redundant) led to speculation that US demand in 2019 will be far lower than 2018. (Reuters)

January

  • Tesla’s deposits continued to fall (see historical chart here), even though new products (Semi and Roadster) carry very high reservation fees and the entry of Model 3 into production must have boosted accruals. On the conference call, Tesla’s CFO batted away questions about reservation numbers saying they were “not relevant”. (Tesla)
  • Expects to build the Model Y at the Gigafactory in Nevada, rather than Fremont. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Is now talking about 10,000 units per week of Model 3 from Fremont and Shanghai combined, walking back from original comments about US production capacity targets. CEO Musk believes that even in a recession there is annual demand for 500,000 Model 3. (Seeking Alpha)
  • Tesla’s CFO retired (again), to be replaced by 34 year old company veteran Zack Kirkhorn. (Bloomberg)
  • Changed the naming convention of Model S and X vehicles so that the battery size is no longer mentioned and instead range is expressed in qualitative terms. (Clean Technica)
  • Buying ultracapacitor firm Maxwell Technologies for $218 million. (CNBC)
  • Cutting production hours for Model S and Model X after dropping the 75 kWh derivatives. Tesla also said it was because of improved productivity. (Reuters)
  • Received a fine for safety problems in the “tent” Model 3 assembly area. The citations were for improper permits, training and risk assessment, not because accidents had taken place. Tesla objected. (Business Insider)
  • Tesla confirmed that it has been discussing a battery supply contract with Lishen. Although the news was received with horror by some Panasonic-watchers, Elon Musk has repeatedly said that Tesla talks with all the battery suppliers and Samsung have provided batteries for its wall units. (Reuters)
  • Announcing plans for a (7)% reduction in headcount, CEO Musk told employees that there would be a small Q4 2018 profit but said he was worried that favourable mix of high-series Model 3 was flattering the results and operational cost needed to be reduced to provide lower-priced Model 3 derivatives. The company will retain only “the most critical” temporary employees and contractors. (Tesla)
  • Released a new mobile, plug-in, charging unit with a 9.6kW rating. The catch is that you need a special type of plug socket so unless customers have already installed these, the new product doesn’t save on electrician fees. (Tesla)
  • Launched another round of charging station price increases and moved to differentiated pricing by station rather than region, increasing revenue from more popular spots. (Electrek)
  • Started installing automatic barriers in Chinese supercharger locations that will only lower if the owner uses an app identifying the car as a Tesla. Although the internet was quick to brand the equipment as a potential solution to US pick-up truck owners blocking charging bays, they may want to remind themselves of the ground clearance these vehicles appeared to possess. (Electrek)
  • Ending the customer referral program, citing affordability. (Reuters)
  • New car buyers can reportedly still pre-order the fully self-driving feature by emailing Tesla directly but sales advisors are warning anyone who does that it could be a “very long time” before the feature is usable. (Electrek)
  • CEO Musk suggested the forthcoming Roadster would have a hover function going so far as to outline a potential power mechanism and package. But nobody was sure why. (Electrek)
  • Will only offer Model S and Model X with 100 kWh battery packs, dropping the 75 kWh version. (Elon Musk)
  • Tesla’s public relations team appears to be shifting towards the same kind of media-grooming expected of mainstream automakers, recently inviting selected journalists to the Alaskan cold weather testing facility it uses in exchange for glowing reviews. (CNET)
  • Broke ground on the new Shanghai factory. (Bloomberg)