The Tesla Q1 2017 earnings call started off with bad news. The company announced it lost $397 million in the first quarter, compared to $282 during the same quarter last year. But by now, we know that losses are a good thing in the tech world because they mean sunnier days are ahead. And when it comes to spreading sunshine, Elon Musk is the established master. Here are some highlights from the conference call on May 3.
Model 3 Production On Schedule
Tesla told investors that everything is coming along well with the Model 3 production process. “Model 3 vehicle development is nearly complete as we approach the start of production. Release Candidate vehicles, built using production-intent tooling and processes, are being tested to assess fit and finish, to support vehicle software development and to ensure a smooth and predictable homologation process. Road testing is also underway to refine driving dynamics and ensure vehicle durability.” That road testing has led to several photos pre-production cars captured driving on public roads, including the white Model 3 with the glass roof sighted earlier this week.
The company is sticking to its projections of 5,000 Model 3 cars a week by the end of this year, rising to 10,000 cars a week in 2018. “We recently powered on our newest Schuler press line, and have started the commissioning process. This will allow sufficient time to install and tune die sets ahead of volume production. Paint shop preparation has been completed and installations of our dedicated Model 3 body welding and general assembly lines are progressing well. Equipment installation is also underway for volume manufacturing of cells, modules, battery packs and drive units at Gigafactory 1.”
Enhancing The Customer Experience
With so many more Tesla automobiles on the road, the company is investing heavily in its sales, service, and charging infrastructure. It will double the number of Supercharger locations worldwide before the end of the year. “We intend to build larger sites along the busiest travel routes and broaden the number of charging locations in urban centers to make charging ubiquitous and convenient for everyone.”It is also adding 100 new, larger sales and service facilities this year. The retail stores will now include dedicated areas for solar power sales as Tesla transitions away from an outside sales force. Service centers will feature more bays to handle the expected increase in demand.
Tesla cars are designed so that many repairs can be done remotely by over the air updates. “Using remote diagnostics, our service technicians are increasingly able to identify repair needs in advance of meeting with customers and even before customers notice issues. This has helped reduce repair times by 35% this year. Our goal is to reduce repair times even further.”
Mobile Repairs And Delivery Hubs
The cars are also designed so that most physical repairs can be done without raising the car into the air on a hydraulic lift. To leverage that advantage, Tesla is expanding the use of mobile repair trucks and plans to add 100 of them in the second quarter alone. “Our mobile strategy scales quickly, is capital efficient and lowers cost because proactive service and scheduling more than offset technician drive time to the customer. Best of all, mobile service saves Tesla customers the time traveling to and from a service center.”
Tesla will begin opening the first company owned body repair facilities later this year and expand its network of existing Tesla certified privately owned body shops.