U.S. Justice Dept. Accelerates Probe Into Tesla Production Claims

October 29, 2018 at 1:34 AM

A criminal probe by the U.S. Dept. of Justice into Tesla Inc.’s production claims about its Model 3 electric sedan is intensifying, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper says FBI agents have begun questioning former Tesla employees to help determine whether the carmaker misled investors about its timetable for ramping up output of the Model 3, a model considered critical to the company’s profitability.

The Justice Dept. probe centers on Tesla’s repeated failures to meet production targets announced by Musk.

In February 2017, Musk told analysts he expected that Tesla would be building 4,000 Model 3s per week by September. In early July of that year, Musk predicted production would hit 20,000 cars per month by December.

The company ended up making about 2,700 Model 3s in 2017. Sources tell the Journal that Tesla’s Model 3 body shop wasn’t even fully installed until September 2017. The company spent the next 12 months struggling to overcome production snags and reconfigure its manufacturing system to use more people and fewer robots.

Last week Tesla, indicating that its major Model 3 production problems were behind it, reported that it built 56,000 Model 3s in July-September.