Tesla reveals record quarterly sales despite supply chain struggles

Tesla Shanghai China Factory
Tesla TKed Wall Street’s expectations.

  • Tesla sold 184,800 vehicles in the first three months of 2021.
  • The number is slightly above what analysts on Wall Street had expected.
  • The carmaker battled supply-chain snafus including a worldwide shortage of semiconductor chips.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla on Friday announced better-than-expected car sales for the first three months of 2021, despite major production and supply-chain headwinds.

The electric-car maker delivered 184,800 vehicles in the first quarter, topping Wall Street’s expectations. The carmaker sold 182,780 of its Model 3 and Model Y, along with 2,020 of its higher-end Model S and Model X. Tesla does not break down its sales by individual model.

Tesla said it saw strong demand for the Model Y in China and that it will continue to speed up production of the refreshed Model X and Model S.

Shares of the automaker sank slightly, about 0.5% in extended trading Friday, though most major stock exchanges were closed for Good Friday. The stock sold off just shy of 1% on Thursday in the lead-up to the announcement.

Analysts largely expected Tesla would continue the rapid pace of production it achieved during the last three months of 2020, as it pulled out all the stops to deliver 499,550 cars before the year’s end. Consensus on Tuesday stood at 173,800 units for the quarter.

Overall production numbers came in at 180,338, Tesla said. Both figures could change slightly, about 0.5%, as paperwork is finalized.

The carmaker faced major headwinds in the first quarter including a global shortage of semiconductors that has kneecapped auto manufacturing worldwide, idling production lines and forcing automakers to build cars without certain components as they await chips.

Read more:The CEO of a top battery startup shares what he learned about business from joining Tesla as employee number 7

In January, Tesla CFO Zach Kirkhorn warned of obstacles Tesla would face in the first quarter, including the semiconductor issue.

“Specifically for Q1, our volumes will have the benefit of early Model Y ramp in Shanghai,” Kirkhorn said on a conference call. “However, S and X production will be low due to the transition to the newly architected products. Additionally, we’re working extremely hard to manage through the global semiconductor shortage as well as port capacity, which may have a temporary impact.”

In February, Tesla temporarily halted production at its Fremont, California, factory, and CEO Elon Musk attributed the break to “parts shortages.” Production stoppages aren’t uncommon for carmakers, and they’ve become more frequent as the chip shortage drags on.

Wall Street expects Tesla to sell more than 800,000 vehicles in 2021, with production capacity aided by new factories that are set to come online in Germany and Texas.

Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives said in a Friday note that he now expects Tesla to deliver more than 850,000 cars in 2021, as demand for EVs grows globally and as President Joe Biden signals a commitment to green infrastructure.

“We believe these delivery numbers are a paradigm and sentiment shifter for the space going forward. Its been a brutal sell off for Tesla and EVs, but we believe that will now be in the rear view mirror,” Ives said.

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Tesla is about to reveal how many cars it sold in the first quarter of 2021 – here’s what to expect

Tesla
Tesla is on track to deliver more than 800,000 cars in 2021, according to Wall Street analysts.

  • Tesla will announce how many cars it sold in the first three months of 2021 as soon as Thursday.
  • Wall Street estimates range from around 152,000 to 174,000 deliveries, with a consensus of 172,000.
  • The semiconductor shortage, redesigned vehicles, and a production pause may have slowed production.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla is set to release first quarter delivery figures as soon as Thursday, and Wall Street largely expects Elon Musk’s automaker to match its strong output from the final stretch of 2020.

Analyst consensus is that Tesla will deliver 173,800 vehicles in the three months ended March 31, though estimates range from 151,000 to 174,000 total.

In the final quarter of 2020, Tesla sold more than 180,000 of its Model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles to customers as it raced to meet a 500,000-unit goal set forth by Musk earlier in the year. The carmaker ultimately delivered 499,550 cars in 2020

Investors expect Tesla will build significantly more cars in 2021. Consensus sits at 831,000 units as the company continues to accelerate production at its existing factories, and add new production lines in Germany and Texas.

Read more: 26-year-old Austin Russell is out to prove Elon Musk wrong about lidar. Here’s how to nail an interview with Luminar, his booming startup.

But 2021 began with hurdles for Tesla. In January, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn warned of potential first quarter headwinds, including a redesigned Model S sedan and Model X crossover and an ongoing shortage in semiconductors that has hampered global auto production for all of 2021. A two-week break in production at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory may have also impacted deliveries.

However, Kirkhorn said, accelerated production of the Model Y at Tesla’s Shanghai plant would be a boon for delivery volumes. The carmaker is building two additional factories – one in Berlin, Germany, and one in Austin, Texas – that are expected to greatly expand its production capacity in 2021 and in years to come.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley project that Tesla’s manufacturing capacity will reach 1.3 million units by the end of 2021, 3 million units by 2025, and nearly 5.5 million by 2030.

The deliveries announcement will come at a critical time for Tesla, amid a wider selloff in the EV space and as the electric-car maker looks to prove to investors that it can continue to scale up production worldwide while avoiding some of the quality-control issues that have plagued it in the past.

The carmaker, a dominant force in EVs for years, is also facing down more competitors than ever before. Ford launched its first mass-market battery-powered vehicle, the Mustang Mach-E, in late 2020, while Volkswagen began delivering its inaugural US-market EV, the ID.4, in March. Upstarts Rivian and Lucid plan to deliver their first vehicles by summer.

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