On the recent 8-K report, I noticed 268 million listed for Inventory on the balance sheet. What does Tesla currently have in inventory? Since it's clearly not completed vehicles, what comprises this large number?
Looks like they are still getting their supply together. They probably planned to manufacture 5,000 cars last Q and made a smaller number. Then some of the items are purchased from far away places, including the now infamous Czech tires that needed to be airfreighted. Then there are bulk discounts for ordering large batches.
Again, these are problems relatively easy to solve as long as there is demand for the product.
Don't forget, they are only using 20% - 25% of the available factory space. So they have plenty of room for storage for inventory to make future production. Buying in bulk to manufacture 20K BEV's a year is the most cost effective when recieving goods from your suppliers. If they delivered $306M worth of end product in the Q4, then $286M of inventory won't even carry TMC through Q1.
They are manufacturing to order, and probably using JIT throughout. The only significant inventory is work in progress -- unfinished or undelivered cars, which is moved out as quickly as feasible.
JIT is a nice idea, but it is really hard to get everything there at the right time. The compensation for that, at least in the short term, is to order ahead a bit to make sure you don't stop production for lack of a single component. As experience grows, the early ordering will move later and reduce the inventory on hand. BTW, every JIT system I've seen just means the warehouse is at the component supplier instead of at their customer.
I guess they could do a probibabilty of customer demand (battery size and options). Whatever that blend comes out to, attempt to reflect that in buying inventory for 20k units over the course of the year... Would be interesting to see their methodology here...