Tesla to Halt Production of Model 3 Cars Temporarily

Tesla to Halt Production of Model 3 Cars Temporarily

Concerns over the slow pace of Model 3 assembly spurred Moody’s Investors Service to cut Tesla’s credit rating last month and question whether the company could face a cash crunch this year.

Its financial troubles have been compounded by an investigation by federal safety experts into a fatal crash on March 23 that involved a Tesla Model X sport-utility vehicle that was operating with its Autopilot driver-assistance system engaged. The driver, Wei Huang, a software engineer at Apple, died in a hospital shortly after the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to California to look into the crash. Tensions between Tesla and the agency increased after the automaker suggested the driver was at fault because data from the car showed that he did not have his hands on the steering wheel for several seconds before the car hit a concrete barrier.

In production of the Model 3, Mr. Musk gambled by creating an assembly line that relies much more heavily on automated equipment and robots than workers. But it has proved more difficult than he expected to get the machinery to work in harmony. He recently said he was sleeping at the Fremont plant while working to improve the production line, and he has described the delays and glitches as “production hell.”

In a tweet over the weekend, Mr. Musk acknowledged that “excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

Tesla stock and bond prices have slumped in recent weeks. On Monday, Tesla shares closed at $291.21, down 3 percent on the day. They have lost nearly a fifth of their value since March 12.

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