Back at the start of 2015, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk boldly predicted the Californian automaker would hit a total 2015 sales target in excess of 55,000 electric cars.
More recently, he revised that prediction, saying that Tesla would sell somewhere between 50,000 and 55,000 cars over the course of 2015.
Yesterday via a press release detailing its unofficial Q4 2015 delivery figures, Tesla proved Musk’s revised prediction was on target, adding an estimated 17,192 Tesla Model S electric sedans and 208 Tesla Model X electric crossover SUV deliveries to the totals from Q1-Q3, giving a grand total of 50,580 cars for the year.
Unlike other automakers, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] does not release monthly sales figures for industry professionals and business analysts to examine. In fact, until recently, it kept sales figures a closely-guarded secret until its quarterly earnings report. At the start of last year Tesla changed that, agreeing to release quarterly sales estimates a few days after the close of the preceding quarter, helping end what had become an almost constant speculation in the media as to how many cars it had actually sold.
Like the quarterly estimates released throughout 2015, Tesla is keen to reiterate that the latest figures shouldn’t be treated as official sales figures. That’s because it has yet to fully examine all of the paperwork for Q4 2015 — and Tesla does not count a car as having been sold until all the necessary paperwork has been done.
Even if it was meant to be delivered by December 31, a car which hasn’t quite had its paperwork completed by Tesla will count towards Q1 2016 sales figures, no Q4, 2015. That said, Tesla says its total delivery figure estimate and actual final figure usually are less than 1 percent apart, meaning that we can take Tesla’s 50,580-car total as a fairly accurate figure to measure the company’s growth by.
According to Tesla’s own press release accompanying yesterday’s announcement, Tesla’s Q4 delivery record for Model S electric sedans beats its previous quarterly delivery record by an impressive 48 percent. It is also around 75 percent more than the number of Tesla Model S electric cars delivered by the company in Q4, 2014.
That increase in deliveries represents not only a steady growth in Model S sales around the world, but also an increased output at the Fremont production facility where both the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X electric cars are made. Last summer ahead of the official production launch of the Tesla Model X, Tesla shut down production at Fremont for one week in order to make some significant modifications to its production lines. These improvements included a new paint shop, new production areas for the Model X, and improvements to the automated production process designed to increase throughput.
While those improvements have certainly increased the number of Tesla Model S luxury electric sedans rolling off the production lines however, we note that production figures for the Model X remain rather small. While Tesla estimates it only delivered 208 Model X electric cars during Q4, it says 507 were made on its Fremont production line.
The reason for the low production? Quality control, says Tesla. With the Model X still only in its first full quarter of production (the first cars were delivered at the end of Q3, 2015) Tesla says it is focusing on quality rather than quantity for the luxury crossover. Given some of the quality control problems Tesla experienced with early Tesla Model S back in 2012, that move seems a cautious but warranted one. Add in the fact that all early Model X cars are either special-edition Founder or Signature Series models — cars which required their owners to place a hefty deposit down years ahead of production — and Tesla’s attitude becomes even more understandable.
For those worried their Model X won’t arrive for many months with such a low production rate there is some good news on the horizon: Tesla says it is now well into the first stage of Model X production ramp-up, and as of last week managed to build 238 Model X cars. That figure will continue to ramp up until it reaches full production volume later this year.
Do you think the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model X production and delivery figures show promise for 2016? Or do you think Tesla needs to increase production further to catch up with the likes of Nissan?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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