Caldwell said that the Model 3 delay also "definitely doesn't help" Tesla's case with bankers and investors should it need to raise additional cash for its operations, but that Tesla was "still in a reasonable period of expectations" for eventually reaching its production goals. "The company initially planned to make 5,000 units a week by the end of a year ago".
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Tesla shares were down more than 1% following the news.
The company said it has made "major progress" toward eliminating Model 3 production bottlenecks.
Tesla has been blowing through more than $1 billion in cash a quarter as it's had trouble scaling up Model 3 output despite spending heavily on the robots, assembly lines and tooling needed to produce them. Tesla now expects to end the first quarter producing about 2,500 Model 3 cars per week and reach the 5,000-car per week milestone by the end of the second quarter.
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In the months leading up to efforts to get the Model 3 up to speed, Tesla raised at least US$1.2b through an offering of stock and convertible bonds in March and another US$1.8b by tapping the debt market in August. "We have them hovering about $1 billion in cash".
Those older models appear to still be selling well, according to Tesla. The Wall Street Journal reported a year ago that the cars were being built partly by hand as the company struggled with its automated body-panel assembly line. The quarterly total is a 27% year-on-year rise, a 9% quarter-on-quarter increase and also the company's new all-time best quarter for S and X deliveries. Quality control obviously matters - nobody wants his or her vehicle of the future to be a buggy mess, a "lemon" in old-world parlance - but quality control and mass production have been happy bedfellows for literally decades, since Toyota revolutionized auto manufacturing in the 1970s and '80s.
"Musk has a long pattern of missing production and financial targets set not just years ahead but a few months ahead". However, the automaker has been battling production problems since early in the Model 3 production process.
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Even with mass production, Tesla will face other challenges in the highly-saturated mainstream auto market. The organization said that over the most recent couple of days of the quarter it achieved a creation rate that "extrapolates to more than 1,000 Model 3's for every week".