Tesla Model 3 all-wheel drive Performance rolls off a new assembly line in a temporary structure
Tesla acknowledged in a quarterly regulatory filing on Thursday that it has received a subpoena from the SEC asking about the company's forecasts the company made in 2017 for Model 3 production.
Some investors have said they were misled by statements that the company would begin full production of the Model 3 by the second quarter of 2018, when the company was struggling to get the car's assembly line up and running.
The subpoena confirms that the SEC is investigating the company's production claims.
A previous subpoena from the SEC, regarding a Tweet by chief executive officer Elon Musk that he had plans to take the company private, resulted in a $40 million settlement and Musk's ouster as chairman of Tesla's board for three years. Neither Musk nor Tesla admitted wrongdoing in the settlement.
In the latest SEC filing, the company said it has received subpoenas in connection with "certain projections that we made for Model 3 production rates during 2017 and other public statements relating to Model 3 production."
Tesla also said: "...there have not been any developments in these matters that we deem to be material, and to our knowledge no government agency in any ongoing investigation has concluded that any wrongdoing occurred. As is our normal practice, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with government authorities. We cannot predict the outcome or impact of any ongoing matters. Should the government decide to pursue an enforcement action, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on our business, results of operation, prospects, cash flows, and financial position."
The company originally said in its third-quarter earnings call last year that it would reach full production of 5,000 Model 3s per week in the first quarter of 2018. In fact, it took the company until the last week of June to reach that production number in a single week.
Musk said in that same earnings call that the company was struggling with "bottlenecks" on the highly automated Model 3 assembly line. In a later tweet in May, he blamed himself for over-reliance on automation, saying "Humans are underrated."
The SEC's question may hinge on whether Musk could have known during that Q3 earnings call that the problems with the Model 3 assembly line would take longer to fix than his production forecast projected.