Tesla's big issue is battery production, but this robot thing didn't help. Tesla's affordable Model 3 has been trapped in development hell for what seems like ages now, and in an interview with CBS's Gayle King, CEO Elon Musk offered a little more insight into how the production process has fallen short. While escorting King through the company's Fremont, California-based factory, Musk conceded that Tesla might've been too many robots involved in its car production process and that the company would benefit from having more humans on the line. And when King opined out loud that in some cases, said robots probably slowed down production , Musk responded with a terse "yes, they did." Musk didn't get to elaborate on the complexities of his factory setup, but he did point out one particular failure: the facility at one point used a "crazy, complex network of conveyor belts, and it was not working so [Tesla] got rid of the whole thing." That Musk would've chosen to rely on a highly automated facility is little surprise. During a shareholder meeting in 2016, he excitedly noted that he thinks of the factory itself as a product with the potential for tremendous breakthroughs. "We realized that the true problem, the true difficulty, and where the greatest potential is – is building the machine that makes the machine," Musk said. "In other words, it's building the factory." Musk's plan to craft the machine that builds machines only picked up steam when Tesla acquired Perbix, an automated manufacturing company that Tesla had long-running business ties with. While the move allowed Tesla to being more component production in-house, it might have caused still more problems -- Tesla temporarily suspended Model 3 production for a week in February in part to "improve automation. " It seems clear that Musk hasn't yet struck the right balance between machines and the roughly 10,000 human workers at the Fremont factory. Just to be clear though, a surfeit of robots isn't the only reason Tesla has consistently fallen short of its production goals. On the company's most recent earnings call, Musk candidly pointed out that issues with battery module production at the company's Gigafactory in Nevada was the "limiting factor" in Model 3 output. "We were probably a little overconfident, a little complacent, in thinking this is something we understand," he said at the time. "We put a lot of attention on other things and just got too comfortable with our ability to do battery modules, because we've been doing that since the start of the company."
Tesla is one of the more interesting companies for Wall Street that had an interesting couple of months this year — and it seems even tweets from Elon Musk, who said that the company will be profitable in the back half of the year, may be enough to swing its stock. The Tesla and SpaceX founder sent a tweet very early this morning that the company would be profitable and cash-flow positive in the third and fourth quarter this year. Tesla is known for setting ambitious targets and forecasts, especially as it looks to ramp up Model 3 production to around 2,500 vehicles per week. Musk said he took direct control of Model 3 production earlier this month in a note to employees, also sent out at around 3 a.m. pacific time. Teslas shares were up slightly, gaining around 2% in trading today. The Economist used to be boring, but smart with a wicked dry wit. Now its just boring (sigh). Tesla will be profitable & cash flow+ in Q3 & Q4, so obv no need to raise money. Tesla saw a small bump in its stock throughout the day. While it could be for a variety of reasons, Musks data point may have offered a small amount of clarity (and optimism) around whether the company will be able to eventually turn a profit. The tweet was fired off as a response to a story by The Economist that said the company may have to raise additional capital at some point, according to banking firm Jeffries. (It was also quite snarky.) On Teslas last call to discuss the companys quarterly results with Wall Street analysts, Musk said that the company would begin generating positive quarterly operating income on a sustained basis, and said he was cautiously optimistic that the company would be GAAP profitable. Musk said the company wanted to hit a production target of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week at some point in 2018, though did not give a specific time frame. The tweet, while fired off as a response to a story by The Economist, appears to offer another small data point as to when it might happen. Earlier this month, Tesla fell back behind Ford in terms of its market cap as some pressure has hit the stock. Tesla has had to address a fatal crash involving its autopilot, in addition to a voluntary recall of 123,000 Model S vehicles. There is some skepticism around whether Tesla will hit its production targets from Wall Street (making cars is hard, it seems).