Tesla likely to produce 5,000 Model 3s per week by July

SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that building 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of June was “quite likely” as the company’s production lines were now demonstrating the ability to make 3,500 vehicles per week.

“This is the most excruciating hellish several months I’ve ever had … but I think we’re getting there,” Musk said during Tesla’s annual meeting of stockholders in Mountain View, Calif.

Musk’s comments came after shareholders re-elected three directors and voted against a proposal to wrest the chairman role from Musk.

That had represented the strongest challenge yet to Musk’s grip on the Silicon Valley electric vehicle maker, which also faces production setbacks and expectations by many analysts that it will need to raise new cash.

Shares rose 1 percent after hours.

Tesla and its high-profile, tweeting CEO have been under the microscope in recent months after a spate of negative press over vehicle crashes, the company’s cash position and the leadership style of Musk, who has snubbed financial analysts and publicly castigated the media.

Musk choked up after taking the microphone to talk about the company onstage in front of investors.

“At Tesla we build our cars with love,” Musk said. “At a lot of other companies, they’re built by marketing or the finance department and there’s no soul. We’re not perfect but we pour our heart and soul into it and we really care.”

Tesla has been struggling to ramp up production of its new Model 3 sedan, which is crucial to the company’s long-term profitability. In April, Tesla said it was making 2,270 vehicles a week, less than half the promised 5,000 a week it said it would meet by the end of June.

Manufacturing bottlenecks have delayed the delivery of vehicles to customers and deferred much-needed revenue as the company continues to spend heavily on Model 3 production fixes, as well as projects in the pipeline.

The company has been engaging in so-called “burst builds,” temporary periods of fast-as-possible production which it uses to estimate how many cars it is capable of building over longer periods of time.

Analyst Brian Johnson of Barclays warned investors in March to be wary, however, of brief “burst rates” of Model 3 production that were not sustainable.

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