For as long as we can remember, automakers have dutifully published their year to date and monthly sales totals for the previous month at the start of the next. This allows their competitors, the business world and the motoring press to correctly gauge general and sometimes more specific automotive sales market data — like how many electric cars have sold to date.
The only exception to this has been Californian electric automaker Tesla Motors, which has generally waited until its quarterly financial report to divulge vehicular sales figures. But on Friday, Tesla surprised us and the rest of the motoring press by releasing its Q1, 2015 global sales figures just three days after the end of the quarter. What’s more, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] says it will continue that trend from this point on, releasing its quarterly sales figures within three days of the end of each respective quarter.
Sadly, while Tesla is at least half-way to following accepted auto-industry practice, the information isn’t at the level of granularity that other automakers offer. That said, it does at least give us a good idea of how Tesla is faring compared to other automakers around the world.
The figure? 10,030 global vehicle deliveries during Q1 2015. Since Tesla currently only sells the Model S luxury electric sedan, that translates to 10,030 new Tesla Model S cars on the roads of the world, a figure which pushes total Tesla model S sales since it launched in 2012 to just over 66,800 cars.
While Tesla’s official spokespeople declined to break down those sales into country-specific or even continent-based figures, if we assume that Tesla’s market share hasn’t shifted much in each country since the end of Q4 2014, we’d guess that there have been somewhere between 5,000 and 6,500 Model S cars registered in the U.S. during Q1 2015.
Again, using some very simple back-of-the-napkin math, that would suggest an average monthly sales total for the U.S. of between 1,500 and 2,170 cars per month. This would put the Model S ahead of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt for this year. However, we should reiterate that this is purely speculation, and we have no firm figures — official or otherwise — to back this up. Unless Tesla provides its sales figures with more granularity, it’s a figure we won’t know until six weeks’ time, when Tesla will unveil its official financials for Q1, 2015.
In releasing its sales figures a few days after the end of each quarter, Tesla said that it hoped that it would counter what it called “inaccurate sources of information” used by many automotive and financial sites to try and ‘second-guess’ the number of Tesla deliveries ahead of the official sales report every quarter.
But in deciding to release at least some of its sales figures early, the automaker cautioned that “there may be a small changes to this delivery count (usually well under 1%), as Tesla only counts a delivery if it is transferred to the end customer and all paperwork is correct.”
In other words, the figures quoted three days after the end of a quarter may vary slightly from official sales figures — which Tesla will publish as it has always done six weeks after the end of each quarter in its official quarter-end earnings call.
“Also, this is only one measure of our financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of our quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles,” it cautioned.
In a market where both sales of the Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt are lower than they were this time last year, we’re glad to see Tesla bucking the trend, driven in part we suspect by its expansion in to new markets and the addition of autonomous-drive features across the Model S range — not forgetting the recently-launched Tesla Model S Dual Motor variants of this popular plug-in.
If Tesla can continue a similar sales pace throughout the rest of this year, it could be on track to produce and sell at least 40,000 vehicles this year. Given the Model X is due to be released at the end of this year, we’d guess that figure may even creep as high as 50,000 units.
For Tesla, its fans and shareholders alike, that’s good news, especially given the large financial commitments Tesla has at the moment in the form of its Gigafactory and Model X development.
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