Friday, August 03, 2012

(BN) Tesla Makes First 50 Model S Cars Ahead of Output Ramp Up

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car company led by Elon Musk, said it has produced its first 50 Model S luxury sedans and will accelerate output on a weekly basis to meet a target of delivering 5,000 this year.

Since starting production in Fremont, California, on June 22, Tesla has made 29 customer cars and 21 vehicles for its stores for use as loaners and for test drives, Christina Ra, a Tesla spokeswoman, said in an interview. Some 50 more are to be built in the next two to three weeks, and the daily production pace is to expand every two to three weeks after that, she said.

"The ramp up is continuing and we are getting a lot of invaluable information from having all these cars on the road," George Blankenship, Tesla's vice president of sales, said in a company blog post yesterday. "We have already logged more than 39,000 miles on the first 50 cars."

Production and orders of Tesla's first battery-powered model designed and built wholly in-house are being monitored by investors after an analyst's report last month suggested the company may struggle to meet its annual target. Tesla said last week that while it would produce just 500 of the Model S this quarter, output would accelerate rapidly late in the year to meet the 5,000-car goal.

Tesla has slid 19 percent since Theodore O'Neill, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities Inc., cut his rating for the stock to sell from buy in a July 18 report, citing the likelihood the carmaker would struggle to fulfill its 2012 target. The company named for inventor Nikola Tesla said last week it has 12,200 orders for Model S, which starts at $57,400 before a U.S. tax credit.

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