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Why Did Tesla (TSLA) Stock Climb Today?

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Shares of Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) popped over 3.5% through morning trading on Monday after outspoken CEO Elon Musk said that the electric car company will begin to roll out full self-driving features this summer.

Tesla’s boss took to Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) on Sunday to respond to a comment regarding the company’s autopilot features. A user voiced his concern that Tesla’s autopilot does not effectively merge lanes in certain situations. Musk’s reply then set up what could be a major turning point for Tesla’s self-driving vehicle technology.

 

Musk said that Tesla’s long-awaited Version 9 software update will launch in August, and is set to include full self-driving features. Tesla’s software update comes over a year after Tesla introduced its Version 8.1. These features included: “improved autosteer up to 90 mph, traffic-aware cruise control, auto lane change, automatic emergency braking," and many more autopilot features.

Tesla introduced Version 8.1 in March 2017 through its now-customary over-the-air software updates, which allow the company to update older Tesla vehicles remotely. Musk’s most recent autopilot announcement comes less than a week after the chairman and CEO boasted that it is “extremely likely” the electric car giant will hit a weekly production rate of 5,000 Model 3 sedans by the end of the current month.

Last week’s announcement falls in line with the company’s first-quarter goal to produce 5,000 Model 3 units per week at some point during the second quarter. Tesla announced in early April that it produced a total of 34,494 vehicles during Q1, which represented a 40% surge from the fourth quarter. Tesla also noted at the time that it had produced 2,020 Model 3 vehicles within the previous seven days.

Therefore, investors would likely be nearly ecstatic if Tesla is able to reach the 5,000 Model 3 target by the end of June. The Model 3 is widely considered Tesla’s most important electric vehicle to date because of its mass-market price.  

Musk’s recent company updates also come at a time when many investors have grown increasingly nervous about the possibility that Tesla will have to take on more debt in order to fulfill its production goals. Any more delays could also negatively impact Tesla’s long-term viability as an EV power with the likes of General Motors (GM - Free Report) , Volkswagen (VLKAY - Free Report) , Ford (F - Free Report) , Toyota (TM - Free Report) , and other much more established automakers jumping into the electric vehicle race.

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