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Tesla Reports a Record Quarter, Delivering 97,000 Electric Vehicles

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【Summary】Today, the California automaker Tesla reported Q3 deliveries of 97,000 vehicles, making it the biggest delivery quarter since the automaker went public in June of 2010.

Eric Walz    Oct 02, 2019 4:30 PM PT
Tesla Reports a Record Quarter, Delivering 97,000 Electric Vehicles
Tesla delivered 79,600 Model 3s in Q3.

Although electric automaker Tesla experiences a love-hate relationship with Wall Street investors, including those who short the company's stock, the electric automaker keeps surprising critics with its growing sales numbers.

Tesla is coming off a record Q2 with sales of 95,000 vehicles, the highest quarterly sales in the company's history. Today, the California automaker reported deliveries of 97,000 vehicles, falling short of its target while beating the Q2 numbers, making the Q3 the biggest sales quarter since the automaker went public in June, 2010.

Tesla was aiming to reach sales of 100,000 vehicles in Q3 and just missed its self-imposed target for the quarter. The company built 96,155 vehicles during the quarter, with the bulk of them being Model 3s. The automaker delivered 79,837 Model 3 in Q3.

Even though Q3 was the biggest in the company's history as far as deliveries go, Tesla's Q3 results still fell short of investor expectations. The news sent Tesla shares down 6% in after hours trading.

Tesla's quarterly sales are closely watched by investors and provide a snapshot of the company's overall health. Unlike other automakers that can count on sales of more profitable models like pickups and SUVs to boost profits, Tesla only offers 3 vehicles, the Model S, Model X and the mass-market Model 3. The more affordable Model 3 is key to Tesla's long term profitability.

Tesla set an ambitious target to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles in 2019. To reach that number, Tesla will need to deliver at least 104,800 vehicles in Q4 to meet the low end of its full-year forecast.

"Looks like the 360k bottom end of 2019 forecast is starting to look a bit iffy," Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin said to Reuters.

Selling close to 100,000 vehicles in Q4 is a difficult challenge for any automaker. Year to date sales of the Toyota Camry for example, the best selling sedan in the U.S., reached just over 266,000 so far this year.

Tesla is also facing declining demand for its expensive Model X SUV just as rival automakers are introducing their own fully-electric models with a lower price tag, such as the Audi e-tron. In addition German automaker Porsche revealed its Taycan electric sedan last month, which could become a serious rival to the Tesla Model S for those willing to pay a premium for an electric luxury vehicle.

Tesla did not release individual sales for the Model X, but reported it delivered a total of 17,400 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs.

The good news for Tesla is that its new factory in Shanghai is almost complete. The assembly plant, its first outside of the U.S., is set to start building Model 3s by year end. The factory will also produce battery cells and the upcoming Tesla Model Y SUV. Tesla is aiming for an initial production rate target of 250,000 electric cars per year.

Having a factory in China will allow Tesla to sell the Model 3 without import tariffs, making the car more affordable for customers in China. China is the worlds biggest auto market and therefore an important market for Tesla.


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