Double the deliveries: Tesla’s first-quarter sales surge

Strong sales are a sign that demand for Tesla’s relatively pricey electric vehicles remains high despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Tesla's robust sales came even though the company shut down much of its production in Fremont, California in the United States for several weeks in late February and early March [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]
Tesla's robust sales came even though the company shut down much of its production in Fremont, California in the United States for several weeks in late February and early March [File: Steven Senne/AP Photo]

Tesla says it delivered nearly 185,000 electric vehicles in the first quarter despite a shortage of computer chips that has hit the global auto industry.

The number was more than double the deliveries for the same period last year. And it beat Wall Street estimates of 168,000 for January through March. The company said in a statement that the Model Y small SUV in China has been well received.

Tesla lists no production figures for its older models, the S sedan and X SUV, during the quarter, but it delivered more than 2,000 of them. It says new equipment has been installed at its factory in Fremont, California in the United States and production of new versions is in the early stages.

The strong sales are a sign that demand for the company’s relatively expensive vehicles remains strong despite the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet estimate that the average selling price of a Tesla is $49,100.

Shares of Tesla Inc are down more than 9 percent so far this year as some of the shine wore off electric vehicle and tech stocks, which had experienced a big run-up last year. The stock closed Thursday down just under one percent at $661.75. Markets are closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Tesla sold just under 500,000 vehicles last year, barely missing a target set by CEO Elon Musk. The company has not given much guidance for this year’s sales figures.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the first-quarter numbers a “jaw-dropper,” and a huge home run in the eyes of bullish investors. “We believe China and Europe were particularly robust this quarter as the trajectory now puts Musk & Co. to exceed 850k for the year which is well ahead of whisper expectations,” he wrote on Friday.

The Model 3 small car and the Model Y accounted for nearly all of the Palo Alto, California, company’s first-quarter sales. Tesla said it sold 182,780 of both models combined.

Ives wrote that analysts expected more than 12,000 sales of Models S and X, with the miss driven by the chip shortage.

The strong sales came even though the company shut down much of its Fremont production for several weeks in late February and early March. It did not say why, but it is likely that the company ran short of computer chips.

US President Joe Biden’s announcement this week of $174bn in spending on electric vehicle incentives and charging stations, and rising global demand for electric vehicles should shift sentiment towards Tesla stock, Ives wrote.

“It’s been a brutal sell-off for Tesla and EVs, but we believe that will now be in the rearview mirror,” he wrote.

Source: AP

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