I was watching Tesla’s press releases page (where it has historically posted quarterly sales) all day yesterday and the day before. But — ugh — Tesla decided to not release the numbers there but just in a press release posted on Market Wired (and maybe other such press release sites). What?! Why?! Anyhow, my griping aside…
Despite a lot of hype that Tesla* couldn’t hit its huge 17,000+ delivery target in quarter 4, the Silicon Valley company did indeed surpass 17,000 deliveries (aka sales). It didn’t come close to the higher end of the projections it put out a few months ago, but it did still hit guidance with 17,192 Model S sedans and 208 Model X SUVs delivered (that’s 17,400 vehicles in total), with many of those Model Xs being Signature Series Model Xs delivered in the last week or so of the year.
As far as production goes, which we were speculating about based on some leaks we received, Tesla announced that it produced 507 Model X SUVs in Q4. That’s a little bit less than I was hoping/speculating, but in the ballpark. Anyhow, as Elon noted on the last Tesla Motors quarterly conference call, production of the Model X was expected to hit a steep ramp-up right around the end of the year — put that a little bit before the end of the year, and production could have been a few hundred or even several hundred higher; but put it more at the beginning of 2016, and the total would have been a few hundred lower. (The “daily production rate in the last week of the year” = “238 Model X vehicles per week,” and production has been ramping up exponentially.)
In the end, Tesla delivered 50,580 vehicles in 2015, slightly above its 50,000–52,000 guidance. And, remember, that’s almost 50,000 more than 3 years ago.
One reason some people were so skeptical about Tesla hitting that guidance was that it meant a huge increase in production and deliveries in Q4. Another reason is that finally producing and then ramping up production of the Tesla Model X had proved a bit difficult. Nonetheless, the guidance was based on increased production capacity in the Fremont Tesla factory, with almost all of that production being of Model S sedans. In the end, Tesla knew what it was talking about, and skeptics again didn’t (note: if you’re still shorting Tesla, maybe it’s time to wake up and accept defeat).
So, how big was Q4? The 17,400 deliveries were 75% higher than in Q4 2014, and 48% higher than Tesla’s previous quarterly record. Not too shabby, right? Very likely, that’s $1.5 billion to $2 billion in revenue (in one quarter).
What does all this mean for Tesla (and TSLA) going forward? I think it means that Tesla has gotten past the initial big hurdles involved with production of the Model X, and that Tesla will indeed deliver over 1,000 (maybe even 2,000) Model X SUVs in January. I think it also means that Tesla is set for solid growth in 2016. Could 70,000 deliveries be in store? 80,000? 90,000? What’s your guess? Elon has projected that the company will produce 1600–1800 vehicles a week in 2016, on average, with maximum capacity equal to 2000/week. 1700 vehicles per week would equal nearly 90,000 vehicles in 2016.
People are going to keep hating on Tesla, expecting Tesla stock to drop through the floor, expecting the Model X falcon-wing doors to go haywire and result in billions of dollars of losses for Tesla, and so on and so on, but it looks like Tesla is actually on pretty solid footing now, while aiming for the sky.
With a Tesla Model 3 unveiling right around the corner, and Gigafactory construction moving along faster than expected, I’m guessing 2016 is going to be a good year for Tesla.
*Full Disclosure: I own stock in Tesla… and don’t intend to sell it anytime soon.