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Can Tesla Model 3 Deliveries Keep Rising?

By Daniel Sparks - Jun 28, 2019 at 4:03PM

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All eyes are on the Model 3 as the new vehicle now accounts for the bulk of the electric-car maker's sales.

Next week, Tesla ( TSLA -4.35% ) investors will get a timely update on the company's latest vehicle deliveries. The electric-car maker reports quarterly production and deliveries within three days of each quarter's end. This means investors should get insight into its recent performance by no later than Wednesday.

While investors will want to look into how well all of Tesla's vehicle models are selling, the Model 3 remains the primary focus for investors. Highlighting the Model 3's growing importance to Tesla's business, the vehicle accounted for nearly 70% of the automaker's trailing-12-month deliveries -- and that figure is expected to rise.

When Tesla reports production and deliveries next week, can the Model 3 live up to investors' high expectations?

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

Model 3. Image source: Tesla.

Model 3 deliveries

In the first quarter of 2019, Tesla delivered about 51,000 Model 3s. While this was up 522% year over year, it was down 20% sequentially. Of course, Tesla was careful to point out that this was primarily due to a larger number of vehicles in transit to customers because of the company's international expansion during the quarter. In addition, it has clarified on several occasions that demand for Model 3 is not a problem. Indeed, earlier this week, CEO Elon Musk reportedly told employees in an email that there are enough vehicle orders in the current quarter to set a new record for total deliveries, implying that demand for Model 3 remains robust.

With demand reportedly faring well, the big question is whether Model 3 production -- and Tesla's ability to deliver finished vehicles to customers -- was sufficient enough for the electric-car company to report record Model 3 deliveries.

To set a new record for Model 3 deliveries in Q2, Tesla will need to deliver more than 63,359 units (the number of Model 3 units delivered in the fourth quarter of 2018). This would translate to 24% sequential growth and a staggering 243% increase over Model 3 deliveries in the year-ago quarter.

Looking ahead

Perhaps even more telling than second-quarter Model 3 deliveries will be any statements from management in next week's update about expectations for Model 3 production and deliveries throughout the rest of the year.

In order for Tesla to hit its full-year guidance for 360,000 to 400,000 total vehicle deliveries in 2019, Model 3 deliveries are likely going to need to be higher in the second half of 2019 than they were in the first half. To gauge whether Tesla can pull off its ambitious outlook, look for updates on the Model 3 production rate and the most recent demand trends.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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