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Elon Musk: Tesla has moved from ‘production hell’ to ‘delivery logistics hell’

Elon Musk, Tesla Motors chairman and CEO, has promised that by the end of the year, the electric carmaker will turn an annual profit for the first time in its 15-year history. (Bloomberg News) (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Elon Musk told a Tesla customer late Sunday that the all-electric carmaker is suffering from severe delivery logistics problems, an acknowledgment that follows a string of troubles for Musk and his company.

The customer complained that Tesla missed several promised delivery dates, which the company kept pushing back, only to tell her that the delay was now indefinite. The customer posted a picture of what appeared to be many Model 3 sedans parked in a holding area. Musk apologized and told the customer the issue would be resolved.

“Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly,” Musk tweeted.

The chief executive said last week that Tesla customers may see “longer response times” after contacting customer service because of a significant increase in vehicle deliveries in North America. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Model 3, Tesla’s mass-market vehicle that is envisioned to transform the ambitious company into a profitable business, has been plagued by delays in production. Musk has described recent months at the Fremont, Calif., plant where the cars are made as “production hell.” But Tesla in June reached a long-delayed goal of producing 5,000 Model 3′s per week. The automaker expects to sustain that pace through the third quarter, and Musk has promised that by the end of the year Tesla will turn an annual profit for the first time in its 15-year history.

New Tesla customers who order the most basic version of the Model 3 will receive their cars in four weeks, according to the company’s website. Tesla says that other configurations of the vehicle can take between two and four months to be delivered. A version of the Model 3 that offers a standard battery instead of a long-range one won’t be available until four to seven months, the website says.

Tesla’s stock was down by more than half a percentage point during early morning trading Monday.

Earlier this month, two Tesla executives announced they were stepping down, and video of Musk smoking marijuana and drinking whisky on a popular podcast circulated on social media.

Musk’s critics have questioned his recent erratic behavior following a sudden announcement on Twitter last month that he was pursuing plans to take Tesla private. The company is now facing a Securities and Exchange Commission probe into whether Musk misled investors to unfairly boost Tesla’s stock price. The proposed deal to take Tesla private was abruptly scrapped.

Investors and analysts have called on the company to replace Musk or to share his responsibilities with a more predictable manager.