FRANKFURT/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Tesla Inc has flown six planes full of robots and equipment from Europe to California in an unusual, high-stakes effort to speed up battery production for its Model 3 electric sedan, people familiar with the matter told Reuters this week.
Transporting equipment for a production line by air is costly and hardly ever done in the automotive industry, and the move underscores Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk’s urgency to get a grip on manufacturing problems that have hobbled the launch of the high-volume Model 3 and pushed Tesla’s finances deep into the red.
“As usual with Tesla, everything is being done in a massive hurry and money seems to be no obstacle,” said one of the two sources.
Tesla on Friday declined to comment on whether it has shipped in any new production equipment from Europe.
Investors are closely watching Tesla and its high-profile, often brash CEO to see if the upstart electric vehicle maker can pull off high-volume production of the Model 3, a car with the potential to catapult the niche automaker to a mass producer and assure its financial stability.
But manufacturing missteps have led Tesla to repeatedly miss production targets for the sedan, and raised doubts about Musk’s promises that the company will stop burning cash by the third quarter of this year. Tesla had free cash flow of negative $1 billion in the first quarter, and earlier this month disclosed that it could offer its Fremont, California, vehicle assembly plant