Tesla denies report of a spending halt at Nevada plant


Tesla is disputing a Thursday report that the electric auto manufacturer is putting a freeze on its plans to expand its Nevada Gigafactory.

“Both Tesla and Panasonic continue to invest substantial funds into Gigafactory,” a Tesla spokesperson told The Post in a statement, referring to electronics maker Panasonic, which is Tesla’s battery cell supplier.

“We believe there is far more output to be gained from improving existing production equipment than there was previously estimated.”

The electric automaker, run by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, made the comment in response to a report by Japanese news service Nikkei that said Tesla and Panasonic were pulling back on plans to increase the capacity of its plant, which supplies battery packs for the electric vehicles.

The report had Tesla shares trading down 3 percent on Thursday, and added fuel to investors concerns regarding the demand for Tesla vehicles.

Giving no indication of its sources, Nikkei reported that financial issues had led the companies to rethink plans to expand the capacity of Gigafactory 1 by another 50 percent next year.

The paper said the companies had already together invested $4.5 billion in the facility and had been planning to expand the plant’s capacity to the equivalent of 54 gigawatt hours (GWh) a year in 2020 from 35 GWh at present.

Tesla said it is focused on “upgrading existing lines” in its factories, which will “achieve the same output” as its originally planned investment.

Tesla added that, contrary to Nikkei’s report, “our demand for cells continues to outpace supply” and “remains a fundamental constraint on Tesla” production.

Still, experts are keeping a close eye on Tesla as it continues to demonstrate soft sales. Shares fell 11 percent last week after a bigger-than-expected drop in first-quarter deliveries. It says it will deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles in 2019.

“We were skeptical of their 2019 sales guidance to begin with, so [the report] reinforces what we were expecting,” CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson tells The Post. “It could be a precursor of them lowering their 2019 sales guidance.”

Tesla shares finished the day down 2.8 percent, at $268.42.

With Reuters