Tesla says its Model 3 production nightmare is almost over

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Throughout past year, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk had trumpeted a production level of 5,000 a week by December 2017.

Tesla shares were down 3 percent Thursday morning. Of the 2,425 Model 3 vehicles produced in the fourth quarter, 793 of them (or almost 33%) were made in the last seven working days of the quarter, according to Tesla.

The new forecast puts Tesla closer to six months behind its original estimate for ramping up Model 3 production.

A Tesla Model S vehicle is seen in a showroom in Santa Monica, California, US, January 4, 2018. However, this model is being watched particularly closely as it is widely thought that this is the auto that will make or break Tesla. Tesla said in its release that in the last seven working days of the fourth quarter it made 793 Model 3 cars.

The Drive editor Alex Roy used Tesla's new Model 3 to drive from Redondo Beach, California to Manhattan, New York in 50 hours, 16 minutes, and 32 seconds. The carmaker has been blowing through more than $1 billion a quarter as it's had trouble scaling up output despite spending heavily on robots, assembly lines and tooling for the sedan that is Musk's cheapest yet, starting at $35,000.

The Model 3's delivery schedule has been marred with setbacks.

Nonetheless, Tesla reported that it delivered 1,550 Model 3s in Q4 2017.

The Elon Musk-led company now expects to assemble 5000 Model 3s a week by the end of June, delaying plans to reach that milestone by another three months. It also surpassed its 100,000-vehicle goal for 2017.

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It'll take Tesla another three months to double that number.

"Tesla vehicle deliveries represent only one measure of the company's financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles".

The more gradual ramp is so the company can "focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time", according to the release.

The Model 3 is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom in 2019.

The company said another 2,520 Model S and X vehicles and 860 Model 3 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter.

That pace of production is still below that of many carmakers.

Tesla shares, despite paring some gains from a high of $385 in September, still trade at 46 percent above their price a year ago.

Tesla said Wednesday it's making "major progress" addressing problems "with our production rate increasing significantly towards the end of the quarter".

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