However, it said it made "major progress" in addressing the issues during the period, meaning its production rate grew significantly towards the end of the three month period and it has made as numerous vehicles in the weeks since Dec 9 as it did in the four months previously.
Tesla will start producing 2,500 Model 3s weekly by the end of the first quarter of the year, the company said in yet another update that disappointed thousands of people who have preordered the auto as well as investors, sending its shares down by 2 percent after hours. Previously, Tesla was hoping to reach the 5,000/per week rate by the end of March.
Tesla's slower ramp up in manufacturing Model 3s led analysts to speculate another capital raise could be coming. "They don't have a ton of wiggle room though in our view", Spak said.
Tesla shares were down 3 percent Thursday morning.
"As a result of the significant growth in our production rate, we made as many Model 3's since December 9 as we did in the more than four months of Model 3 production up to that point", Tesla said, explaining that this is why it wasn't able to deliver many of these cars during the holiday season, just before the quarter ended. The projection for the current quarter is that it will produce around 2,500 a week, and be producing 5,000 a week by the end of Q2.
Tesla also said it had delivered 15,200 Model S and 13,120 Model X luxury cars in the fourth quarter, a 9% increase over third-quarter deliveries. Pre-orders for the Model 3 were through the roof after the company announced the launch, reaching over half a million by July 2017-a year after the announcement. Sales of those more expensive models jumped 33 per cent from 2016.
Tesla's bonds due in 2025 were quoted at 94.9 cents at 8:30 a.m., according to Trace bond price data, the lowest in about a month.
Tesla still has options for financing given its equity market capitalization, said John McClain, a money manager at Diamond Hill Investment Group. "When someone is wrong that often one must question either his honesty or his competence; personally, I question both", said Mark Spiegel of Stanphyl Capital, who is betting against Tesla by short-selling its stock.
Slow production could affect the number of Model 3 buyers who receive the $7,500 federal electric vehicle tax credit, and it is unclear whether this may drive away buyers, said Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne. The company will likely end the first quarter at a weekly rate of about 2,500 Model 3 vehicles.
Tesla shares gained 45% in 2017. "One you have it right you can ramp really quickly, but getting to that phase is the hard part".
Building the auto efficiently and delivering it without delays to customers is also critical, as the money-losing company faces high cash burn.
Tesla said it will have a more gradual ramp through the first quarter "to focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time". The company said it made significant progress on speeding up manufacturing of the sedan late last month, producing 793 units in the last seven working days.
In a letter sent out by the Californian carmaker, it says it delivered 1,550 of its new vehicle in the final three months of 2017 - 2,550 fewer than predicted. "They've kicked the can down the road".