Tesla's broken promise
TESLA has a big problem.
The electric vehicle maker has confessed what rumours had already suggested.
Its production processes are not working properly and in the last three months of 2017 it failed to make anything like as many vehicles as it had originally pledged.
Chief executive Elon Musk once said his company would make 20,000 of its affordable Model 3 vehicles in December alone.
At the end of December, Tesla counted up all the Model 3s it made in October, November and December, and it was just 2425. Only 1550 were delivered to customers.
This is not the first time Tesla has failed to keep a promise. The company has a pattern of missing self-imposed deadlines.
Perhaps the most famous example is the self-driving car. In 2015, it claimed a self-driving car was two years away. The deadline has passed and cars still have steering wheels with humans behind them.
Many experts think fully self-driving cars are still a decade or more away.
Tesla sells vehicles with a feature called autopilot but it is, for now, limited in what it can do. The company is continually releasing updates for the software, but it remains a long way from the automated driving experience the name implies.
YouTube contains many videos of the autopilot experience but outside of nice straight freeways (the only place you’re supposed to use the system) they are a catalogue of jerky-steering, slow speeds and frequent demands for the driver to take back control.
The Model 3 is supposed to cost US$35,000 and sell in huge numbers. More than 400,000 people put down a reservation of US$1000 on the basis of that promise.
For now, though, the price is far higher than that, with buyers paying as much as US$57,500. And it is selling in puny numbers, limited mostly by Tesla’s inability to make the damn thing.