Tesla Doubles Workforce But May Be Behind Schedule

Tesla Motors Inc. is continuing to grow – nearly doubling its head count and spending massive amounts of cash – but some are questioning if the company is falling behind its ambitious schedule.

All told, Tesla increased its workforce from 5,859 employees in 2013 to a reported 10,161 at present. Much of the staff was added to Tesla’s sole assembly plant in Fremont, Calif. Additional employees were also hired for the company’s new facility an hour east in Lathrop.

Funding for capital expenditures (capex) has also grown exponentially. Tesla spent more than $950 million in 2014 on projects such as new service centers and Supercharger locations.

And for this year, CEO Elon Musk said the company plans on spending “staggering amounts of money on capex.” That translates to $1.5 billion earmarked for capital expenditures.

A large portion of this money is dedicated to building the Gigafactory, the battery manufacturing facility set to open in 2016.

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Some analysts say these achievements have put Tesla right on track to meet its goals.

“Tesla’s expected spending levels reflect a company with ambitions to achieve at least 500k units of volume by 2020 … not the 295k units we have forecasted,” said Adam Jonas, an analyst for Morgan Stanley.

Despite this steep increase in staff and spending, not everyone is as optimistic. In order for Tesla to reach its 2015 target of 55,000 sales, deliveries must increase by more than 70-percent. This may be achievable if Tesla can follow through with its official launch of the Model X this fall.

A recent buzz raised around the Gigafactory also has analysts questioning if Tesla’s battery plant is falling behind on construction. The Reno Gazette-Journal listed two postings from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the electrician’s union connected to on the Gigafactory:

“The [Gigafactory] has been cut back by 80-percent at this time. This is all subject to change,” stated one posting.

“The major project in the area has been delayed at this time. Further updates will be posted as soon as we know more,” said a second posting on the local IBEW website.

In an interview with Reuters, however, a Tesla representative said the project is still on schedule. The rep didn’t comment further on the posts from IBEW.

Wall Street Journal, Reuters