Elon Musk tweeted — then revised — projections for full-year Tesla manufacturing numbers.
The CEO said late Tuesday that Tesla would make “around” 500,000 vehicles in 2019, later clarifying he “meant to say” the company’s annualized production rate at the end of 2019 could be around 500,000 vehicles — or a production rate of 10,000 cars per week. Total deliveries for the year are still estimated at 400,000, Musk said.
The posts seem unoffensive by Musk’s standards, given his penchant for inflammatory tweets. But the incident raises questions about the effectiveness of an SEC fraud settlement and attempts to rein in Musk’s online antics.
As part of the company’s settlement with the SEC in September — which stemmed from a now-infamous Musk tweet about taking the company private — Tesla was supposed to create a system for monitoring Musk’s statements to the public about the company, whether on Twitter, blog posts or any other medium.
“It comes back to, the company is still running like a start-up,” Loup Ventures founder Gene Munster told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. “This is a $50-60 billion market cap company. This should not be run like a start-up.”
It’s unclear whether there’s a system in place to monitor Musk’s tweets about the company. Musk told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in December that no one was reading his tweets before he published them.
“I have always had this hope that Elon would change, and I think it’s reiterated that he is not going to change,” Munster said.
Musk’s tweets have proven to move the stock as much as 10 percent in some cases, and invited a defamation lawsuit from a British rescue diver who sparred with Musk online.
Separately Wednesday, Tesla announced its general counsel was leaving the company after only two months on the job. Share prices were down slightly in early trading Wednesday.