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Musk vows fast fix for new ‘money furnace’ Tesla factories

AP – Tesla CEO Elon Musk described the electric automaker’s factories in Austin and Berlin as “money furnaces” that were losing billions of dollars because supply chain breakdowns were limiting the number of cars they can produce.

In a May 30 interview with a Tesla owners club that was just released this week, Musk said that getting the Berlin and Austin plants functional “are overwhelmingly our concerns.

Everything else is a very small thing”, Musk said, but added that “it’s all gonna get fixed real fast”.

It’s not clear how much has changed in the three weeks since the interview, but last week Musk tweeted congratulations to his Berlin team for producing 1,000 cars in a week. In the interview, Musk said the tooling for its 2170 battery cells were stuck at port in China. Supply chain breakdowns since the onset of COVID-19 two years ago have been especially debilitating for automakers, who get parts from all corners of the globe. A lack of computer chips needed to run cars’ computers compounded automakers’ problems and sent prices for used and new cars skyrocketing.

Tesla recently raised prices broadly across its fleet of cars.

As the pandemic erupted in the United States (US), automakers had to shut factories for eight weeks to help stop the virus from spreading. Some parts companies cancelled orders for semiconductors. At the same time, demand for laptops, tablets and gaming consoles skyrocketed as people stuck at home upgraded their devices.

By the time auto production resumed, chip makers had shifted production to consumer goods, creating a shortage of weather-resistant automotive-grade chips.

Tesla shares have lost 38 per cent of their value in less than three months.

Cars on the manufacturing floor at the ‘Cyber Rodeo’ grand opening celebration for the new USD1.1 billion Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing facility in Austin, Texas. PHOTO: AP