Tesla still in ‘manufacturing hell’ for Model 3 sedan going into ‘make-or-break’ year? – Orange County Register

Tesla’s critical production ramp-up for its entry-level Model 3 sedan appears to be falling further behind, according to a new report that says the company will produce only 5,000 of the vehicles in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, another new report suggested that 2018 — and particularly Model 3 production during the coming year — will test the company’s leading position in the electric car world and play a strong role in whether investors keep putting money into the firm.

The Model 3, which at a starting price of $35,000 is intended to bring the Palo Alto electric car company into the mainstream auto market, has been plagued by delays. CEO Elon Musk in November confessed to analysts that the car’s production was some three months behind schedule. Tesla operates a design center in Hawthorne.

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk. AP PHOTO

Now, boutique investment bank KeyBanc Capital Markets is predicting fourth-quarter Model 3 production will amount to a paltry one-third of the bank’s earlier prediction of 15,000 vehicles produced in the period, Reuters reported Wednesday.

“The numbers indicate that the electric carmaker may still not be out of its self-described ‘manufacturing hell’ for the production of the … sedan,” according to Reuters.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accuracy of KeyBanc’s prediction, or provide actual production numbers.

Tesla, whose vehicle models have all seen production delays, has in recent months put even more pressure on itself. It has promised not only to satisfy hundreds of thousands of would-be Model 3 owners, but also to produce a new electric semi truck in 2019 and ultra-fast new Roadster in 2020, along with starting to produce a “Model Y” compact SUV as early as mid-2019 and unveiling a pickup truck as soon as the end of next year.

“In Q3, we delivered the 250,000th Tesla,” Tesla said in its November earnings report. “This is a significant milestone as the Tesla…

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