Tesla just reported first-quarter vehicle production and delivery numbers for 2021. In total, it delivered 184,800 vehicles and produced 180,338 cars.
Analysts were expecting Tesla to deliver around 168,000 vehicles during this period, according to estimates compiled by FactSet as of April 1. Estimates ranged from 145,000 to 188,000 deliveries.
All of the electric vehicles it produced were Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossover SUVs, though it also delivered 2,020 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs.
Tesla’s operations during the quarter ending March 31, 2021, were impacted by a fire at its Fremont, California factory, temporary closures that CEO Elon Musk attributed to parts shortages, a broader chip shortage in the industry, port capacity issues and the ongoing pandemic.
During the same period a year ago, with the novel coronavirus spreading the world, Tesla reported it produced 102,672 vehicles and delivered 88,400 vehicles. Production of its crossover SUV, the Tesla Model Y, had started in earnest as of January last year, with deliveries taking off in March 2020.
At that time, Model 3 and Model Y deliveries — the closest approximation to sales numbers reported by Tesla — amounted to about 86% of total deliveries. Adding the Model Y to its menu, and production at its Shanghai plant, the first plant built outside of California, helped Tesla grow sales by about 36% in 2020 versus 2019.
During the company’s most recent earnings call, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn said that in 2021: “Specifically for Q1, our volumes will have the benefit of early Model Y ramp in Shanghai. However, S and X production will be low due to the transition to the newly re-architected products.”
At an annual shareholder meeting in 2020, CEO Elon Musk told shareholders he expected deliveries to hit an implied range between 477,750 and 514,500 cars for the year. Tesla hit the mid-range of that window, delivering 499,550 cars for the year, its best sales volume to date.
Musk and Kirkhorn declined to give specific guidance for 2021 deliveries during that call but said they would offer more clarity during the second quarter. Kirkhorn said on the call: “We continue to expect a long-term volume CAGR of 50%, of which we may materially exceed this in 2021.” This goal was reiterated by Tesla’s then-President of Automotive Jerome Guillen on the same call. (Guillen has moved into the role of President of Heavy Trucking since then.)
Fans and critics alike will be watching to see whether new battery electric vehicles hitting the market will begin to erode Tesla’s lead in the category, or take away more from sales of internal combustion engine and hybrid vehicles. Startups and big automakers alike are introducing more EV models than ever before.
On March 29, Jeffries reduced its price target for Tesla from $775 to $700, with analyst Philippe Houchois writing in a note:
“Legacy-free 30-50% net growth and 2-digit margin potential still support high multiples but Tesla is no longer unique as an EV play with preferred access to capital. Some of the edge started to erode, but only slowly and Tesla still leads on multiple fronts, from software to design-to-manufacture, speed of execution and direct selling.”
— CNBC’s Jordan Novet contributed reporting.