Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, recently took to Twitter to announce Tesla’s one-millionth car. That a young automaker like Tesla can reach production numbers of over one million EVs is notable all in itself. However – perhaps even more notably – Musk’s announcement also gives us a sneak-peak at Q1 production numbers.
Tesla officially announces 1 million cumulative production
To preface this discussion, one first needs to look at Tesla’s previous production numbers. Tesla began production of the Tesla Roadster in 2008 before adding Model S in 2012, Model X in 2015, and Model 3 in 2017.
What’s more, around half of the 1,000,000 cars built by Tesla are Model 3s, despite launching just 2.5 years ago. The following chart breaks down the cumulative sales of Tesla’s electric vehicles through December 31 of last year.
One should note that production is seldom equal to sales. However, in Q4 of 2019, Tesla did a massive deliveries push. In fact, Tesla managed quarterly deliveries of 112,095 vehicles. This broke all previous Tesla records and delivery volume was even greater than production volume in the quarter.
Q4 Financial Summary gave us Tesla’s production numbers at the end of 2019
Tesla ended Q4 with a “global inventory” of 11 days of sales according to Tesla’s Q4 2019 Financial Summary. In other words, Tesla also began Q1 of 2020 with 11 days of global inventory sales.
Tesla Fremont’s 2019 production was roughly 415,000 vehicles, and the industry reference for days of sales uses 261 working days. This means that 11 days of sales equals roughly 17,490 vehicles in transit and in stock.
Consequently, this would entail that cumulative Tesla production at the start of Q1 2020 would equal 893,450 vehicle sales plus 17,490 vehicles in transit and stock. As such, Tesla’s cumulative production at the start of the year would be approximately 910,940 vehicles.
Tesla’s Q1 production numbers will likely surpass 115,000 vehicles
This means that as of Musk’s announcement early on March 10th, Tesla’s Q1 vehicle production amounts to roughly 89,060 vehicles. One should also note that this comes after only 70 days of the full quarter’s 91 days.
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If one assumes a per-day production of roughly 1,272 vehicles – as these numbers suggest – the full quarter should amount to production of around 115,778 cars. In comparison, Tesla made 104,891 cars during Q4 of 2019.
However, one should note that it could likely have been even higher if Giga Shanghai did not have to shut down for some time due to the coronavirus’ outbreak. Furthermore, the Model Y product ramp likely also took some time to set up and begin.
As such, Tesla appears set to have its best production quarter so far. Tesla’s goal for 2020 is to produce “over 500,000 cars” for the year, which will require production of over 125,000 cars per quarter. However, vehicle production of 115,000 vehicles in Q1 is not a cause for alarm.
Q1 is traditionally a bad month for automobile sales, and Q1 2020 saw Tesla begin its Model Y ramp. What’s more, the COVID-19 coronavirus was also disrupting the Giga Shanghai Model 3 ramp. Consequently, it seems likely that although Tesla’s Q1 production numbers will seemingly be the automakers largest ever, it will also be the lowest ones in 2020.
Q1 2020 sales could surpass 100,000 vehicles
With that said, one should point out that production does not equal sales. Tesla’s outgoing Q4 2019 vehicle inventory was the lowest in over four years. As such, one can assume that Tesla will have more than 17,500 vehicles still in stock and transit at the end of Q1.
As such, less than 100,000 vehicles built in Q1 will likely be sold in Q1. However, if one adds the 17,490 Q4 2019 vehicles in stock and transit, it’s possible the total number of sales will surpass 100,000 cars.