Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) had laid out some aggressive guidance going into its third quarter. Of course, given the company's slower-than-expected initial ramp-up for Model 3 production, many investors were doubting the electric-car maker's ability to hit the quarter's big targets. But Tesla managed to pull it off, posting its highest-ever vehicle deliveries by far as Model 3 sales surged.

Tesla provided investors a glimpse into its vehicle production and deliveries Tuesday morning in a quarterly update on the metrics. Here's an overview of the key information from the update.

A woman unlocks her Model 3 with a Tesla app on her smartphone

Model 3. Image source: Tesla.

Model 3 deliveries soar

Getting straight to the main event, Model 3 deliveries during the quarter were 55,840 units, coming in about in line with what Tesla management was expecting. In Tesla's second-quarter update, management said it expected to produce 50,000 to 55,000 Model 3 units. It guided for Model 3 deliveries to "exceed" production. 

Capturing just how aggressive Tesla's Model 3 production ramp-up is, Model 3 deliveries increased 203% sequentially. In Tesla's second quarter, Model 3 deliveries were just 18,449. Or, as Tesla put it in its Oct. 2 press release, the company delivered "about twice as many Model 3s as we did in all previous quarters combined."

a bar chart showing Tesla's quarterly deliveries by model

Data source: Tesla second-quarter vehicle delivery update. Chart by author.

Tesla pulled this off on Model 3 production of 53,239 units. Deliveries of the important vehicle were helped by the 11,166 units the automaker had in transit to customers at the end of its second quarter.

Tesla wrapped up its third quarter with 8,048 Model 3 vehicles in transit to customers.

Model S and X deliveries remain strong

Importantly, there's no sign of cannibalization yet. Despite the Model 3's lower price point than Tesla's Models S and X, deliveries for both of the pricier models were up year over year and sequentially in Q3. Tesla delivered 14,470 Model S units during the period and 13,190 Model X units. This compares to about 11,000 Model S and 11,400 Model X units in Q2.

Management has said it's aiming to deliver 100,000 Model S and X units in 2018, with deliveries weighted toward the second half of the year. Q3's combined Model S and X deliveries of 27,660 puts year-to-date deliveries for the two vehicles at about 71,800, leaving 28,200 combined Model S and X units to deliver for Tesla to hit its target. "Our overall target of 100,000 Model S and X deliveries in 2018 remains unchanged," management said.

Though management said, "demand for Model S and X remains high," Tesla noted it is seeing headwinds from trade tensions between the U.S. and China. "Those trade tensions have resulted in an import tariff rate of 40% on Tesla vehicles versus 15% for other imported cars in China," management said. Overall, this means Tesla is "now operating at a 55% to 60% cost disadvantage compared to the exact same car locally produced in China," Tesla explained. To address this challenge, the company is accelerating construction of its Shanghai factory.

Tesla's overall deliveries, including Model 3, S, and X, increased 219% year over year and 105% sequentially.

To learn whether or not the automaker achieved its goal to become profitable and cash-flow positive during the quarter, investors will have to wait until Tesla releases its third-quarter shareholder letter, as the company didn't provide any information about its finances in the update.

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