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Tesla Motors dealership in Pleasanton, California. Photo: Smith Collection / Gado via Getty Images

Tesla has missed its first quarter target of producing 2,500 Model 3 vehicles a week, the company announced today, a goal it planned to hit by the end of 2017 but was delayed due to production issues. But the market viewed the number it did produce — a peak of 2,020 Model 3s a week — as a buying signal: Tesla's share price, down 27% over the last month after a series of bad news including a fatal accident, was up almost 5% in early trading.

The bottom line: If CEO Elon Musk is to persuade the market to give him more money to build out his ambitious production targets — something most analysts expect him to do, despite the company saying today it doesn't require more funding — he must both sustain this higher production, and get his flagship Model 3s up to 5,000 a week. That is precisely what the company today promised by the end of the second quarter. But skepticism among analysts is likely to persist until that number is actually reached.

By the numbers:

  • Q1 production totaled 34,494 vehicles, a 40% increase from Q4.
  • 24,728 of the total were Model S and Model X, and 9,766 were Model 3. Tesla said the Model 3 output represented a fourfold increase over Q4.
  • Tesla said they doubled the weekly Model 3 production rate "by rapidly addressing production and supply chain bottlenecks."
  • Q1 deliveries totaled 29,980 vehicles, of which 11,730 were Model S, 10,070 were Model X, and 8,180 were Model 3. 

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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

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The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

Biden says he won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.