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Breaking: Media take SEC filing risks, turn into Tesla ‘Gigafactory Doomed’ story

Gigafactory July

You might have read headlines over the weekend claiming that Tesla announced possible delays and higher cost for its Gigafactory in Nevada. Big Media Titans Reuters and CNBC pushed the headlines as if it was breaking news Friday night after Tesla released its 10-Q SEC filing for the second quarter 2016. Literally breaking news:

Some even claimed that Tesla released the news on Friday night in an attempt to bury it, something not unusual in the industry. The only problem is that it’s not breaking news. Not even close. It’s actually at least 3 months old…

The news publications based those headlines on the following statement from the filing:

Given the size and complexity of this undertaking, the cost of building and operating the Gigafactory could exceed our current expectations and the Gigafactory may take longer to bring online than we anticipate.

This is again a standard boilerplate statement to highlight potential risks to investors. Maybe it could be considered news if Tesla suddenly added it after its press week at the factory, announcing the expansions and the increased capacity, but it didn’t.

You can actually find the exact same statement word for word in their 10Q (PDF file – page 25) for the first quarter 2016, which was published 3 months ago.

While delays in the construction of the Gigafactory are far from impossible, it wouldn’t be accurate to consider this breaking news, or even news as if Tesla shared any new information on a possible delay for the Gigafactory timeline.

It’s not the first time the media attempted to make news from standard boilerplate risk disclosure in Tesla’s filing. Here’s another good example: LA Times continues attack on Tesla using boilerplate risk disclosure as ‘admitting huge risk’ for the Model 3

Something actually new that Tesla confirmed about the Gigafactory in its filing was that the company invested $430.7 million in the plant as of June 30, 2016. That number is expected to increase significantly in the coming months as Tesla plans to get to 35 GWh of battery production in 2018 to support the Model 3 program and eventually grow to 150 GWh at full capacity.

We discuss the Gigafactory’s timeline in more details here, but in short, Tesla and Panasonic plan to start battery cell production in the coming months, the cells will first be used in Tesla Energy products, followed by battery packs for vehicles a few months after.

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