New York: Elon Musk, already in hot water over his Twitter use, posted another Tesla Inc. production forecast reminiscent of the one that landed him before a federal judge earlier this month.
Musk wrote on Sunday that Tesla will make more than 500,000 cars in the next 12 months. A similar tweet sent almost two months ago in which Musk said the company would build half a million vehicles in 2019 led the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to argue he was in contempt of a settlement reached with the regulator last year.
The latest forecast, given as a seemingly innocuous aside in a discussion about the future value of Tesla vehicles, nonetheless came as Musk’s lawyers are negotiating with the SEC over an agreement that put controls on the billionaire’s tweeting.
A US judge gave the two sides until 18 April to meet for at least an hour and resolve their differences. If they can’t, she’ll rule whether Musk is in contempt.
The legal tussle for Musk, 47, served as a distraction amid a record decline in deliveries for Tesla during the first quarter. Concerns about demand for Tesla’s vehicles escalated last week after the Nikkei reported the company and its partner Panasonic Corp. were freezing plans to expand capacity at the battery factory they share in Nevada.
Musk on Saturday disputed reports that Panasonic had boosted annualized battery cell production capacity at the plant to 35 gigawatt hours, saying the company’s lines were only at 24 gigawatt hours and have been constraining output of Tesla’s Model 3 sedan.
Both the Panasonic and the next-12-months production tweets are noteworthy in light of the settlement that sprang from Musk tweeting in August of last year about trying to take Tesla private.
The SEC accused the CEO of securities fraud, and Musk settled. He agreed to pay $20 million and step down as chairman.