While Elon Musk is busy reshaping the newly acquired twittera Tesla faces increasingly pressing issues and testing the faith of some of its CEO’s biggest fans.
The weakening of demand in the China is forcing the electric vehicle maker to slow production and delay hiring at its Shanghai plant.
A top executive for that market has been called in to help at its newest plant in Texas, which is not growing as planned.
And Tesla shares, which have lost more than $500 billion in market value this year, are under new pressure as Musk’s advisers weigh using the actions of the billionaire as collateral for new loans to replace Twitter’s debt.
The revelations of recent days have raised concerns with shareholders, already wary of Musk’s priorities since he took the helm of yet another company.
“Tesla’s board is not acting,” tweeted Leo KoGuan, one of Tesla’s largest individual shareholders, on Wednesday as he hinted at a share buyback. He and another Tesla investor, Ross Gerber, are asking the board to add a director who would represent minority shareholders.
Musk himself said that he has “a lot of work” on his hands and that, to handle it, he is sometimes sleeping in the office. While in the past he slept at Tesla’s premises, lately he has been hibernating at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.
“I continue to oversee Tesla and SpaceX, but the teams are so good that little is usually asked of me,” Musk tweeted on Thursday. “The Tesla team has done incredibly well despite extremely difficult times,” he said earlier in the day, citing the European energy crisis, China’s real estate downturn and US interest rates as macroeconomic challenges.
The recent volatility has marred the end of a year in which Tesla has yet to achieve record sales and retain its crown as the world’s biggest electric vehicle maker. It was not immune, however, to the downturn in the automotive market in China and recessionary conditions in Europe🇧🇷
In October, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said the company expects to stay just short of the 50% growth in vehicle deliveries that the company has repeatedly said it expects over several years.
Tesla’s factory in Austin, Texas, is growing more slowly than expected, with a new form of lithium-ion battery cell not yet ready for series production. Against that backdrop, the company tapped Tom Zhu, a top executive in China who oversaw construction of the Shanghai plant, to oversee operations in Austin, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
In Shanghai, Tesla is shortening production shifts and pushing back start dates for some newly hired employees, Bloomberg reported.
These are the latest signs that demand for Tesla electric vehicles in China is not meeting expectations. This came after Bloomberg reported earlier this week that the Tesla planned to cut production on Model Y and Model 3 lines in Shanghai by about 20%.
Tesla will have a lot to deal with in 2023. The company recently started delivering its long-awaited Semi truck several years late and plans to finally start producing its first pickup truck, the Cybertruck.
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