A parking lot of predominantly new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles awaiting shipment in California. Picture: Stephen Lam / Reuters.
A parking lot of predominantly new Tesla Model 3 electric vehicles awaiting shipment in California. Picture: Stephen Lam / Reuters.

Target met: here's how many vehicles Tesla delivered in 2019

By Munsif Vengattil and Tina Bellon Time of article published Jan 6, 2020

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PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA - Tesla beat Wall Street estimates for annual vehicle deliveries and met the low-end of its own target, sending shares to a record high in a vindication for Chief Executive Elon Musk in the aftermath of a few turbulent years.

Boosted by demand for its Model 3 sedan as overseas sales pick up, Tesla announced on Friday that it had delivered 112 000 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2019, including 92 550 Model 3s, which was above expectations of 104 960 vehicles, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The Silicon Valley carmaker delivered approximately 367 500 vehicles during all of 2019, just meeting the low end of its target to deliver 360 000 to 400 000 vehicles in 2019.

With a market valuation of more than $80 billion (R1.1 trillion), Tesla is far outstripping those of traditional carmakers such as General Motors and Ford.

The delivery results defy skeptics of Musk, whose mercurial behavior over the last two years came under close scrutiny from federal regulators and shareholders of Tesla.

Musk has a history of firing off controversial tweets, resulting in an investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and a defamation trial against him.

The Tesla CEO settled the SEC complaint for $20 million (R286m) in 2018 and a Los Angeles jury cleared Musk in the defamation case in December.

"Elon has Tesla executing right on track," said Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin.

Tesla also provided an update on its Shanghai factory, which has started churning out Model 3 cars. It said the plant demonstrated a production run-rate capability of more than 3000 units per week.

The run-rate shows that the factory appears to be ramping faster than expected, Baird Equity Research analyst Ben Kallo said. "Shanghai deliveries should be the next catalyst to drive volume growth."

The new factory, which is Tesla's first car manufacturing site outside the United States, is the centerpiece of its ambitions to boost sales in the world's biggest auto market and avoid higher import tariffs imposed on US-made cars.

The Tesla Model 3 is leading the electric car specialist's sales surge.

The Model 3 is Tesla's most affordable car, with lower-range versions available starting at $35 000 (R500 000) in the US.

Analysts in the past have questioned how rapidly Tesla's vehicle sales will grow as government subsidies for electric vehicle purchases dwindle in the United States, China and other markets. Some analysts consider those subsidies the biggest driver for Tesla purchases.

Traditional carmakers largely relying on fuel-powered vehicles on Friday reported a decline in fourth-quarter US sales and saw their shares tumble as a widening conflict with Iran pushed oil prices more than $2 a barrel on Friday.

"The recently escalating geopolitical uncertainties driving oil prices higher are likely to create a tailwind for TSLA shares," Canaccord Genuity analyst Jed Dorsheimer said.


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