As Tesla asks for money back from suppliers, investors go running

25 July, 2018, 01:14 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Could Tesla be in trouble

A Tesla spokesperson said the electric vehicle maker had asked fewer than 10 of its suppliers for a reduction in "total capex project spend for long-term projects that began in 2016 but are still not complete".

Chief executive and top shareholder Elon Musk has said that Tesla intends to become profitable in the second half of 2018, and analysts said Monday that the memo is an attempt to meet that goal. The 15-year-old company has reported only two quarterly profits in its history and has never made a profit for a full year.

"Automakers often have brutal pricing demands on suppliers for future work, but retroactive rebates is not something we hear much about, and this is troubling for us to hear", David Whiston, an analyst with brokerage Morningstar wrote in a note to clients. The WSJ calls the sum "meaningful", and reports that the refunds are on payments made since 2016.

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Tesla burned through more than $700 million in the first quarter - leaving it with $2.7 billion cash on hand. The remainder of supplier discussions focus on future parts price or other changes that will help lower costs, he said. "It would not be correct to apply historical cost savings to current quarter", Musk tweeted.

Tesla has been burning through cash as it ramps up production of its Model 3 sedan.

Of course, this news won't make Tesla investors happy.

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The cost of insuring $100 of Tesla debt hit $6.58 around 10:30 am Tuesday, according to data from Bloomberg, amid fresh fears over Tesla's cash position.

The firm managed to hit its target of building 5,000 Model 3 cars a week at the start of this month - but only after building a giant plastic tent in the auto park of its California factory to house an extra production line. "It's simply ludicrous and it just shows that Tesla is desperate right now", Dennis Virag, a manufacturing consultant, told The Wall Street Journal.

In June the company said it was eliminating 3,600 jobs, or 9 percent of its staff, as part of a restructuring effort. Tesla's stock prices have taken a tumble since reports emerged about the request.

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