Tesla says Model S rollout unaffected by executive departures
Shares robound 16 percent in trading Tuesday
LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) -- Tesla Motors Inc. said the production and showroom debut of its all-electric Model S sedan won't be delayed by two top engineers leaving the carmaker, helping the company's shares recover in Tuesday trading.
Tesla shares plunged a record 19 percent last week after news broke of their departure.
"I'm highly confident we'll deliver at least 20,000 cars" in 2013, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a conference call today, before the start of regular U.S. trading. "I'm highly confident we'll do better than the delivery date of the first Model S cars being in July."
Tesla shares on Jan. 13 tumbled the most since they began trading June 29, 2010, after Bloomberg reported Peter Rawlinson, Tesla's vice president and chief engineer, and Nick Sampson, who supervised vehicle and chassis engineering, left this month.
The shares rose $3.81, or more than 16 percent, to close at $26.60 in Nasdaq trading Tuesday.
Tesla, the recipient of a $465 million U.S. loan to make advanced autos, is to begin Model S luxury-car production at its Fremont, Calif., plant by midyear. The company has said initial units of the sedan able to go as far as 300 miles per charge and will sell for as much as $92,400 before a $7,500 tax credit.
Musk apologized for how news of the departures became public, and said his Palo Alto, Calif.-based company planned to discuss the personnel changes when fourth-quarter results are announced on Feb. 15.
"A positive was misconstrued as a negative development," said Musk, the company's largest shareholder.
Tesla shares are particularly volatile as Tesla remains an "unknown quantity" and the outlook for battery-powered autos isn't yet clear, said Alan Baum, principal of Baum & Associates in suburban Detroit.
"It is in a market, electric vehicles, that's in the developmental stages, and it's a start-up," Baum said. "That makes it a very high-risk, high-reward company for investors."
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. raised its rating on Tesla shares to "buy" from "neutral."
"The recent pullback offers and excellent tactical buying opportunity," Himanshu Patel, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., said in a note to investors today. The executive departures "will ultimately prove manageable."
The Model S is Tesla's second vehicle, following its $109,000 Roadster, and is intended to expand the company's sales volume with a base model starting at $57,400, before the tax credit. That version will go as far as 160 miles per charge.
Musk said on Jan. 13 that Jerome Guillen, formerly with Daimler AG, will assume Rawlinson's duties, and that Tesla hired Eric Bach, a former Volkswagen AG executive, "to help in the final stretch of bringing Model S into production."Contact Automotive News