2018 Tesla Model 3
Federal investigators may be looking into whether Tesla CEO Elon Musk knowingly lied to investors when he said that the automaker could build tens of thousands of Model 3 sedans by the end of 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The newspaper reported that the FBI is looking closer at Musk's statements last year, including one in July 2017 that the company could build up to 20,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of 2017.
Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in Dec
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 3, 2017
At issue is whether Musk knowingly lied about the company's production capability to sway investors' opinions. The automaker acknowledged a "production hell" in the ramp up to build the Model 3 sedan, but said several times in 2017 that it could build 5,000 of the sedans by the fourth quarter of 2017.
Tesla produced roughly 2,700 Model 3 sedans for all of 2017, and the Wall Street Journal reported that the company built just 793 in the final week of December.
The latest information may be part of a larger inquiry that investigators began earlier this year, although neither the Justice Department nor the FBI have confirmed that they are investigating Tesla, which is common among federal agencies.
Tesla said Friday that it had not received a subpoena or request for testimony, and that it supplied documents to federal investigators months ago as part of the inquiry.
"Earlier this year, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the Department of Justice about its public guidance for the Model 3 ramp and we were cooperative in responding to it," a Tesla spokesperson told Green Car Reports, confirming that no subpoena, request for testimony, formal process, or additional requests have been made.