Tesla Model S Production Line Now Running At Full Capacity

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2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

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For fans of the Tesla Model S all-electric sport sedan, the past few weeks have been full of good news.

Deliveries of top-of-the-line 85-kilowatt-hour models now number in the thousands, the 60-kWh model will go into production this month--and has been rated at 208 miles of range--and no major safety or quality issues seem to have surfaced thus far.

But buried in a news item last week that appeared in trade journal Automotive News was a little nugget we missed during our coverage of last week's Detroit Auto Show.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has now achieved its full production rate of 400 Model S cars a week, said the company's director of Model S programs, Jerome Guillen.

That means that Tesla should be able to chew steadily away at its list of 15,000 or more reservations for the electric luxury sport sedan, which represents most of a year's production of 20,000 vehicles.

The number of Tesla Model S cars that were actually built last year, and how many were sold, remains a mystery.

So does the company's cashflow and balance sheet, and whether the company is suffering a cash crunch, as a few analysts have suggested based on third-quarter data.

As it ramped up Model S production late last year, Tesla Motors chewed through its cash reserves--including drawing on the last of its $465 million in low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The numbers of cars built and sold, and the revenues and expenses associated with them, will only be public when the company reveals its year-end financials.

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

That will happen in an investor call that's expected to take place sometime next month.

But meanwhile, if Guillen's statement is accurate, producing 400 plug-in electric cars a week puts Tesla in the same league as General Motors.

That company is now producing similar numbers (or a bit more) of its Chevy Volt range-extended electric car.

Not bad for a Silicon Valley startup carmaker that didn't exist 10 years ago.

Can the company survive on its own, or will it be sold to a huge global automaker?

We'll be waiting for those financial results to see what they say.


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