The Tesla CEO made questionable comments to Wall Street analysts on a Jan. 27 conference call.
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The billionaire businessman was on a call with bank analysts to discuss Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings when he allegedly misled them about the company’s vehicle production. According to the news wire, Musk said that Tesla would manufacture new versions of the S sedan and X large SUV while adding that a “Plaid” high-performance version of the electric S would be available in February.
According to delivery and production figures that were released last week, however, Tesla did not, in fact, produce new versions of either model between January and March. The company instead produced 180,000 vehicles of other models, namely the 3 small sedan and the Y small SUV.
Experts told AP that the disparity could draw the attention of the SEC, which already has a history with Musk.
“I think he might have himself into a bit of trouble with the SEC,” Anthony Sabino, an attorney and law professor at St. John’s University, said. “These are fairly direct statements. They are fairly unequivocal.”
John C. Coffee Jr., a Columbia University professor and an expert on securities law and corporate governance, told AP that Musk’s comments came across as statements of fact, which could warrant an inquiry. Tesla, however, could argue that Musk was simply making a prediction during the call, Coffee added.
Regardless, Musk’s comments appeared to have little impact on Tesla’s stock at the time, AP notes. A day after the call, the company’s share price fell 3%.
Musk previously ran into legal trouble in 2018, after he addressed the possible unionization of Tesla employees in a tweet. Last month, the SEC ordered him to delete the post and demanded that Tesla rehire a union organizer it had fired. Though he didn’t address the ruling publicly, the business tycoon also appeared to dip his toes in dangerous waters after suggesting that Tesla could be bigger than Apple in “a few months.”