At one point during 2016, it was looking extremely unlikely that California automaker Tesla Motors would manage to meet the lofty 80-90,000 vehicle production and delivery goal for 2016 set by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the start of 2016. Teething problems associated with initial production of the Tesla Model X electric SUV slowed Tesla’s planned production ram during the first half of the year, resulting in production figures of less than 30,000 cars for the first half of the year.
Yet despite a rocky start to 2016, Tesla managed to dramatically increase production during Q3, totalling 25,185 vehicles during the quarter and leaving hope for the end of the year. And as preliminary figures just released by Tesla show, the California automaker managed to produce 24,882 cars during Q4 2106, pushing the 2016 annual production figure to 83,992 units — firmly within its revised 80-90,000 vehicle guidance.
But while Tesla met its production goals for the year, it didn’t manage to meet its 80,000 vehicle delivery target, managing to deliver an estimated 22,000 vehicles during Q4. When combined with previous quarters, this gives an annual delivery figure of 76,230 cars, 3,770 vehicles under its target.
Of course, it’s worth noting here that Tesla’s quoted Q4 figures are still estimates at this time (the actual figures will be released at the start of next month when Tesla releases its official Q4 and year end earnings) and should be treated as such. But given past trends, it’s likely that official figures will be a few units higher than Tesla’s (usually conservative) estimates.
Why did Tesla manage to produce 83,992 cars but ship nearly 8,000 less? Usually, there are a few thousand cars at the end of any quarter that are in transit to customers, explaining why there’s sometimes a disparity between production and delivery figures. But this time, Tesla says part of the blame comes from a production schedule that was heavily weighted towards the end of the quarter.
That, says Tesla in its official press release announcing production and delivery estimates, was caused by a planned change in production to switch from Autopilot V 1.0 hardware and Autopilot V 2.0 hardware. The switch over, which took place from late October through early December, dramatically lowered Tesla’s weekly vehicle output. While Tesla was able to recover from this toward the end of Q4, thus reaching its planned vehicle production goals the large disparity between production and sales is due to Tesla missing its quarterly shipping dates.
That fact could also explain why Tesla has decided to delay its planned UK price increase as well as changes to its Supercharger access policy, although Tesla does not specifically say so in its press release.
Any cars not delivered by the end of Q4 will of course help Tesla receive a boost in deliveries for Q1 2017, something which Tesla says will happen to some 6,450 of the 7,762 cars produced but not delivered last quarter.
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