For the past week, as the electric-car maker Tesla has been buffeted by a barrage of negative news, Elon Musk, its chief executive, has offered no public comments on the company’s shaky finances, its slumping stock price or the increasing questions about the safety of its self-driving technology.
He finally responded Sunday — with an April Fool’s joke that the company was going bankrupt.
“Despite intense efforts to raise money, including a last-ditch mass sale of Easter Eggs, we are sad to report that Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “So bankrupt, you can’t believe it.”
A follow-up tweet said, “Elon was found passed out against a Tesla Model 3, surrounded by ‘Teslaquilla’ bottles, the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.” It was accompanied by a photo of Musk, seemingly unconscious, under part of a box on which “Bankwupt!” had been written in marker.
That tweet added, “This is not a forward-looking statement, because, obviously, what’s the point? Happy New Month!”
The lighthearted tone of the tweets — which came a few hours after Musk teased “important news” coming soon — contrasted with recent analyst reports that warned of serious financial strains on the company as it struggles to ramp up production of the Model 3, a compact car Musk is counting on to generate revenue.
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Last week, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Tesla’s credit rating and said Tesla risked running short of cash by the end of the year. And Tesla shares have lost nearly a quarter of their value since March 12.
Tesla’s Autopilot semiautonomous driver-assistance system has also come under scrutiny. The system was in use when a driver died in a crash in California on March 23. It was at least the third fatal crash to have occurred while Autopilot was deployed.
On Friday, Tesla said the driverhad not heeded several visual and audible warnings to put his hands on the steering wheel before his Model X sport-utility vehicle hit a concrete barrier.
Musk’s tweets did not mention the crash. Tesla representatives did not respond to messages seeking comment Sunday evening.