Tesla announces Model 3 is delayed - again

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Effectively, Model 3 production should be straightforward: Take auto, add battery pack and drivetrain.

The holdup with the Model 3 is probably resulting from Tesla biting off a lot to chew - CEO Elon Musk has recently promised a new electric semi truck, an electric pickup and a new road-rocket Roadster, on top of a "Model Y" compact SUV - plus manufacturing issues and "niggling problems" with the Model 3, Peterson said.

On the back of these revelations, shares in Tesla fell by 1.7 per cent to $312 in after-market trading. But early versions of the Model 3 suffered battery quality problems, and it's not clear whether those have been sufficiently resolved.

Tesla delivered a total of 29,870 cars in the fourth quarter of 2017, including Model S, Model X and the new Model 3, the company announced on Wednesday. "Issues caught by early customers can be rapidly addressed by Tesla's versatile assembly process".

Tesla has fallen short of Wall Street expectations by revealing that it delivered just 1550 examples of the Model 3 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In the United States, the Model 3 will be priced from just $US35,000 ($44,500), putting in reach of many consumers who would normally opt for a petrol-powered passenger vehicle in the segment. "Ramping up production levels with a flawed product is foolish", she said. As we previously indicated, we slightly reduced Model S and X production in Q4 because of the reallocation of some of the manufacturing workforce towards Model 3 production, which also caused inventory to decline.

Tesla has announced that deliveries of its electric vehicles has surpassed the 100,000-unit mark for the first time a year ago, according to a report by The Verge. While Evercore analysts estimated 5,800 deliveries, Cowen analysts expected just 2,250. These will be counted as deliveries in Q1 2018.

Suffice it to say, tomorrow's earnings report and accompanying conference call will be extremely illuminating as investors will be keeping a close eye on Model 3 production and deliveries.

Throughout previous year, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk had trumpeted a production level of 5,000 a week by December 2017. "The company has now said it is focused on quality versus volume, which is the right focus".

Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst for the vehicle buying site Autotrader.com, said Tesla would have been better served by not announcing such lofty production targets initially. In a statement Wednesday, the company thanked those buyers "who continue to stick by us while patiently waiting for their cars". Final numbers could vary by up to 0.5%.