Tesla reportedly faces FBI investigation over production numbers


The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is "examining whether Tesla misstated information about production of its Model 3 sedans and misled investors".

Tesla reported a record quarterly profit this week as the production of its Model 3 vehicles ramped up, this caused a boost in Tesla's stock despite the company facing a series of production delays only a few months previously.

On a Wednesday earnings call after Tesla reported its third-quarter earnings, Musk said his company's service would "compete directly with Uber and Lyft, obviously".

The expectations beating earnings report comes after a period of intense trouble for the auto maker. Musk also must step down as Tesla's chairman for at least three years as part of the settlement, though he can remain as CEO of the company that has become synonymous with him. About $1.3 billion of that debt comes due by March, intensifying the pressure on Musk to stop the steady losses.

The Model 3 production had also delivered an unexpectedly high margin - more than 20 per cent - which means that the cost of production is coming down, and that augurs well for the roll-out of the "cheap" $US35,000 version of the Model 3.

Tesla ended September with $2.9 billion in cash, up from $2.2 billion in June.

At issue is whether Musk knowingly lied about the company's production capability to sway investors' opinions.

The vast majority of cars traded in by Model 3 buyers are non-premium models priced new at less than $35,000.

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Musk said: "Around mid 2019". In other words, any Tesla owner will be able to share his or her vehicle just like they can share their house or apartment on Airbnb. The Model Y is created to be sold in volumes comparable to the Model 3.

"We're happy that Tesla achieved a good result", he said.

Speaking to analysts following the company's Q3 earnings release, CEO Elon Musk said he has already approved the final prototype for the all-electric crossover.

Tesla and Musk have been under heightened scrutiny since Musk on Twitter floated a proposal in August to take Tesla private, saying he had "funding secured" for a deal.

"It will compete directly with Uber and Lyft obviously, and have ability for customers to add or subtract cars to the fleet at will". As of 9:58 on October 25, Tesla shares are up 9.38 percent at $315.56.

Each time Tesla has begun work on a new vehicle, cash flow has turned sharply negative as Tesla spent heavily to design the vehicle and build up its manufacturing capacity. Strong demand for pricier all-wheel-drive and high-performance versions of the Model 3, plus Tesla's plan to start selling the vehicle in Europe early next year, should support profit margins, he wrote in an email.

Production will initially take place in California, but Tesla is "moving rapidly" to get production going in China and wants to have that going next year, according to Musk. Not surprisingly, shares of Tesla are up more than 10% in after-hours trading.

Tesla is at something of a turning point.

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