As electric vehicle market pioneer Tesla Inc. (TSLA) gears up to produce 5,000 Model 3 cars a week by the end of June, its founder and CEO, Elon Musk, is on a mission to prove the skeptics wrong. In an email to Tesla employees Friday night, Musk congratulated them on manufacturing progress, yet indicated that "radical improvements are still needed" over the next couple of weeks if they are to meet quarterly targets. (See also: 3 Things We Heard at the Tesla Annual Meeting.)
'Short Burn of the Century'
The outspoken serial entrepreneur and angel investor has promised that Tesla, currently the most shorted U.S. equity, will provide "the short burn of the century" as it ramps production of its first mass-market sedan. In May, the Model 3 became the best-selling midsize premium sedan in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Tesla shares spiked as the company hosted its annual shareholder meeting in which investors learned that Musk will remain at the helm as chairman and CEO, that the automaker is planning its first overseas factory in Shanghai and that the company is "extremely likely" to reach a weekly Model 3 production rate of 5,000 vehicles by the end of this month. The news provided some relief as the bears continue to beat on Tesla as it blows through billions in cash and has suffered a series of production setbacks, doubting Musk's remarks that the firm will not need to raise additional funds to sustain operations.
Workforce Cuts at Tesla
In the email, Musk wrote that he will be at the Fremont [California] factory "almost 24/7 for the next several days checking in with those groups to make sure they have as many resources as they can handle."
Last week, Tesla announced that it would cut at least 9% of its workforce in a broad restructuring. Also last week, Musk, who owns about 22% of his company, spent $25 million on purchasing more Tesla stock.
Trading up about 1.2% on Monday at $362.49, TSLA reflects a 31.1% spike over the recent 30-day period, a 16.4% gain year-to-date (YTD) and a 2.2% decline over 12 months. (See also: After Call, Tesla Gets Most Bullish Forecast Yet.)