Tesla Burns Through Half a Million Dollars an Hour

As Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) ramps production of its Model 3 sedan, the company is burning through cash at a rate of about $1 billion per quarter. A report at Bloomberg notes that that amounts to $8,000 a minute, or $480,000 per hour. At that rate, Tesla will burn its last dollar next August.

It’s not likely, of course, that Tesla will be so profligate, but building cars is expensive and building the assembly lines that build the cars is a massive upfront cost that can strain even companies like General Motors and Ford that have been mass-producing vehicles for decades.

Tesla expects to generate “significant cash flows” from operations once the Model 3 line begins churning out 5,000 production cars a week by late March. The $35,000 Model 3 is Tesla’s first mass-market car and has generated more than 400,000 pre-orders, each accompanied by a $1,000 deposit.

Last week Tesla announced a new Founder’s Series Roadster for which potential buyers are being asked to put down a $250,000 deposit for one of the 1,000 copies that will be manufactured. The Roadsters won’t be available until 2020.

Tesla also introduced its new all-electric semi-truck and is accepting pre-orders for those as well along with a $5,000 deposit on each one. Walmart has ordered 15 of the trucks, 5 for its U.S. operations and 10 for Canada. Privately held Meijer has plunked down a deposit for four of the semis and J.B. Hunt said it has ordered “multiple” copies of the vehicle. The Tesla semi is scheduled for delivery in 2019.

The deposits on the Model 3 generated more than $400 million and deposits on the new Roadster could generate another $250 million that Tesla can use free for two years or more. The Model 3 deposits are already carried on the books, though, and $250 million can only go so far at half a million per hour.

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