Tesla's surprise CFO exit may add fuel to 'conspiracy theories'

Musk predicts demand for Model Y could be double that of Model 3

Tesla Model Y is on the way -- in 2020

Tesla has been plagued with production issues for their current Model 3 production line, so investors were unsurprisingly a bit anxious that the Model Y would have similar issues.

Given these plans, it is all the more surprising that Tesla projects capital expenditures of only $2.5 billion for the year. In 2018, according to Tesla's Shareholder Letter, "Model 3 then went on to become the best-selling passenger vehicle in the U.S. in terms of revenue in both Q3 and Q4".

As a result, he chose to open the floogates and make all of Tesla's patents public for all those willing to use them in good faith.

"It is critical that we continue this trend so that we can keep increasing the affordability of Model 3 while retaining a sustainable level of profitability", the company said.

While the results were a mixed bag, the surprise exit of the longtime finance chief will possibly fire up the "conspiracy theories" around the company, Evercore ISI said, while Deutsche Bank was "very encouraged" by the strong results and gross margin and cash flow outlook. Throughout 2018, Tesla delivered a total of 145,846 Model 3, making it "the best-selling premium vehicle (including SUVs) in the United States for 2018", says Tesla and thinks this will continue.

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Tesla now imports all the cars it sells in China but is in the process of building a factory in Shanghai that will manufacture Model 3 cars in the initial phase. Currently, China and Europe are being prioritized, so that the company can fill orders there before any tariffs go into effect. Improvements also include making it easier for customers to make appointments via Tesla's app and real-time deployment of service vehicles.

"If the auto detects a flat tire or equipment failure, there is a tow truck or loader on the way before the vehicle even comes to a halt", Musk said. "This will be enormous in improving customer happiness". It should be like Jiffy Lube, or whatever. Zach Kirkhorn, vice president of finance at Tesla, will take over Ahuja's role. Morton who had been the CFO of data storage firm Seagate before joining Tesla cited indifference from Musk and other executives as the reason for quitting.

In concrete numbers, Tesla announced that it made $7.2 billion in revenue and earnings of $1.98 per share (non-GAAP).

Despite achieving some notable efficiencies, Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell says Tesla still faces headwinds in the year ahead.

A new plant in China could boost the Model 3 production rate even higher. "Tesla's product lineup is starting to get stale, and now thanks to the elimination of the federal tax credit, buying one has never been more expensive".

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