Tesla set a record for deliveries and production in the first quarter, beating analysts’ estimates as CEO Elon Musk prepares to begin building the Model 3 in July.
The maker of electric cars and energy-storage devices shipped just over 25 000 vehicles in the year’s first three months, Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said in a statement on Sunday. That topped the average forecast of 24 200 from three analysts and should bolster confidence in Tesla’s target of delivering as many as 50 000 cars in this year’s first half.
“It’s all about the Model 3 right now, but this is very good news,” Ben Kallo, an analyst at Robert W Baird & Co, said in an interview. “Twenty-five thousand units is the best we could have thought, and people are looking at Model 3 for growth.”
The report is the first in a pivotal year as Musk differentiates Tesla’s line-up, adding the Model 3 as its first high-volume, lower-priced vehicle while making existing models even more exclusive.
Investors have pushed up Tesla shares 30% this year in anticipation of the Model 3 and on news that Chinese Internet giant Tencent took a 5% stake. Its US$45,4bn market value is just $870m less than Ford, which produces millions of vehicles a year.
The youngest publicly traded US car maker builds cars in Fremont, California and has yet to prove that it can manufacture in high volumes. Musk has said Tesla aims to make 500 000 cars next year, an aggressive goal that hinges on battery-cell production at its so-called Gigafactory east of Reno, Nevada. Tesla hasn’t given a full-year target for 2017.
Tesla said it delivered about 13 450 Model S sedans and 11 550 Model X sport utility vehicles, while actual production in the first three months was 25 418.
The company is reworking its lineup and price structure ahead of July’s introduction of the Model 3, which is expected to begin at $35 000 before incentives and options. It’s discontinuing a low-end Model S with its 60kWh battery pack on 17 April, making the 75kWh Model S its cheapest car at $74 500 before tax credits or state rebates until the Model 3 arrives.
The delivery figure is a preliminary number that may change slightly in May when the company reports earnings for the period. Tesla releases global sales figures quarterly, instead of the monthly country-by-country results typically announced by other car makers. The delivery count only includes a car if it’s transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct. — (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP