from the solar-freakin'-cities dept.
But 16 months after Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk kicked up controversy by acquiring the solar-panel installer founded by two of his cousins, its obligations are a strain on Tesla's finances. The $2 billion purchase came with a $2.9 billion debt load, and a chunk of that is soon coming due. That's bad timing for a company churning through about $6,500 a minute and trying to stave off the need for another capital raise. "SolarCity debt may not be the immediate cause of Tesla's problems, but it certainly isn't helping right now," said Alexander Diaz-Matos, an analyst at credit research firm Covenant Review LLC.
[...] Tesla's debt runs the gamut -- convertible bonds, promissory notes, term loans, cash-equity debt, asset-backed securities. Most of the total is tied to Tesla the automaker. But the energy unit, which includes the solar business, accounts for 27 of the 29 maturities set to come due through 2019.
[...] In recent months, Tesla's solar business lost the residential-solar throne to rival Sunrun Inc., a San Francisco-based installer with a market capitalization about half the SolarCity purchase price. Tesla ceded market share as it attempted to boost energy-unit profitability and scrapped SolarCity's costly door-to-door retail sales strategy. That was a smart move, according to Ross Gerber, co-founder of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, which oversees more than $10 million in Tesla shares and options. He criticized the SolarCity deal but is still bullish on the company and Musk. "SolarCity was probably going to go bankrupt," Gerber said.
[...] For his part, Musk hasn't wavered from his commitment to turn Tesla into a one-stop shop selling solar panels to capture power, devices to store the energy and cars that can be charged in the garage. The company started producing photovoltaic glass tiles in December at a factory in Buffalo, New York, and has begun selling solar at some of its own stores and through retailer Home Depot Inc.
At least Tesla production is higher than ever.
Auto production is hard:
Having racked up its first quarter of burning through more than $1 billion of cash in the three months ending in June, Tesla topped that with $1.4 billion of negative free cash flow in the third quarter. In the past two quarters, therefore, Tesla has burned through more cash than the previous six combined. More importantly, it has burned through roughly four out of every five of the $3.2 billion dollars it has raised since late March through selling new equity and convertible debt and its debut in the high-yield bond market.
Consequently, debt has soared. Even just using debt with recourse to the company, on a net basis it has almost tripled since the start of the year to $3.36 billion.This would matter less if the primary objective of sucking in most of that external funding -- mass production of the Model 3 -- was fast approaching. Instead, it has receded further.
When Musk first talked about production targets for the Model 3 in 2016, they implied Tesla would be producing roughly 3,800 to 7,600 a week in the second half of 2017. By July of this year, Musk was guiding toward production hitting about 5,000 a week by the end of December. I estimated at the time that this implied a second-half average of maybe 1,400 a week.
Now, Musk estimates production might hit 5,000 a week by the end of the first quarter of 2018. As for this year, it might be in "the thousands" by the time New Year's Eve rolls around. He refused to say what the current run rate was. But I would estimate Tesla will be lucky to produce 10,000 Model 3 vehicles in total this year, or an average of 400 a week for the second half -- roughly 5 to 10 percent of the original guidance. As for the earlier target of 10,000 a week in 2018 ...
Previously: Tesla Adds Lots of Certified Pre-Owned Model S Vehicles for Under $40,000 with New Warranty
Time to Bash Tesla Model 3
Tesla Reportedly Teaming Up With AMD for Custom AI Chip
Tesla Fires Hundreds of Employees
Tesla Model X driver dies in Mountain View crash
Submitted via IRC for Fnord666
The driver of a Tesla Model X has died following a highway crash in Mountain View, leaving a number of safety questions.
Tesla Crash: Model X Was In Autopilot Mode, Firm Says
In a post on its website, the electric-car maker said computer logs retrieved from the wrecked SUV show that Tesla's driver-assisting Autopilot technology was engaged and that the driver doesn't appear to have grabbed the steering wheel in the seconds before the crash.
The car's 38-year-old driver died after the vehicle hit a concrete lane divider on a Northern California freeway and caught fire. The accident happened March 23.
[...] In its Friday post, Tesla said the crashed Model X's computer logs show that the driver's hands weren't detected on the steering wheel for 6 seconds prior to the accident. It said they also show the driver had "about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider" before the crash but that "no action was taken."
The company cited various statistics in defending Autopilot in the post and said there's no doubt the technology makes vehicles safer than traditional cars.
"Over a year ago," the post said, "our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the US government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability."
"Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents -- such a standard would be impossible -- but it makes them much less likely to occur," the post reads. "It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists."