Investor's Corner

Elon Musk’s bet-the-company Tesla Model 3 gamble appears to be paying off

Elon Musk recently described the Model 3 ramp as a “bet-the-company” situation, where the future of Tesla as a whole hinged on the success of the vehicle. Considering recent reports that are emerging about the electric car, it appears that while it might have taken longer than expected, Elon Musk’s Model 3 gamble is starting to pay off.

True to the CEO’s prediction, the 5,000/week milestone that the company achieved at the end of Q2 2018 seemed to have ushered in a new standard for the production of the electric car. Prior to the end of Q2, Tesla was still struggling to build the Model 3 according to its self-imposed targets. Despite doubts from Wall St. that the 5,000/week pace for the Model 3 was unsustainable, signs have emerged since the beginning of July suggesting that the production ramp of the vehicle this Q3 2018 would be better than what critics expect.

Tesla’s journey to reach this point, however, has been painful. In an interview earlier this month with Bloomberg, Elon Musk admitted that his Model 3 gamble came at a high price. Musk noted that while he believes that the Model 3’s production hell is about to end, the whole ordeal has caused him to develop some “permanent mental scar tissue.” In the same interview, Musk also mentioned that he is optimistic about the next few months, and that he would let Tesla’s results speak for themselves.

These results are starting to emerge in a steady stream now. Since the beginning of July, Tesla does not appear to have relaxed its push to deliver as many Model 3 as possible. Test drive programs were started, more than 19,000 new Model 3 VINs were filed in half a month, a new 5-minute Sign & Drive delivery system was adopted, and the Fremont factory appears to be as busy as ever. Tesla enthusiast Anner J. Bonilla, for one, recently shared a recent drive-by video of the Fremont factory (originally uploaded at the Tesla Model 3 Owner’s Club closed Facebook Group), and the facility’s premises were filled with semi trucks waiting to transport Tesla vehicles.

Reports have also emerged that Tesla Senior Director of Investor Relations Aaron Chew recently met with investors and analysts, where he reportedly revealed that Tesla is targeting a sustained production rate of 5,000-6,000 Model 3 per week for the third quarter. To support this continued ramp, Tesla seems to be optimizing its workforce once more. Since July started, the electric car maker’s hiring activity has jumped 19%. On July 1, Tesla had 1,662 job openings, and by July 16, the company had 1,974 open positions. Among these, openings for sales and deliveries, such as Customer Experience Specialists and Delivery Experience Specialists were many. Openings for Field Service Associates, which would be assigned to Tesla Energy, have also shown a rise since the beginning of the month.

Perhaps Tesla’s biggest vote of confidence for the Model 3, recently came in the form of Sandy Munro of Munro & Associates, who recently completed his teardown and analysis of the electric car. While initially critical of the Model 3 due to its build quality, Munro ultimately admitted in a recent Autoline Network segment that he had to “eat crow” with regards to the electric car, adding that the vehicle, particularly its battery and electronics, were a “symphony of engineering.” Munro also concluded that based on his company’s teardown and analysis, the Model 3’s Long Range RWD variant could give Tesla a 36% profit. The Detroit veteran further noted that even the base Model 3, which costs $35,000, can give Tesla a profit of 18%.

Amidst signs that Tesla is maintaining its production ramp and Munro’s conclusions that the Model 3 is profitable, the company’s stock started to recover on Tuesday. After a steep dive on Monday after Musk’s incendiary tweets during the weekend, Tesla shares (NASDAQ:TSLAclimbed 4.06% on Tuesday, ending the day at $322.69 per share. With Elon Musk recently returning on Twitter and issuing an apology over his recent statements, there appears to be very little that can get in the way of the company performing better than expected this third quarter.

Elon Musk’s bet-the-company Tesla Model 3 gamble appears to be paying off
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