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Tesla Really Might Deliver a Half-Million Vehicles This Year

By Daniel Sparks – Oct 3, 2020 at 10:35AM

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Record third-quarter deliveries have put the electric-car maker within reach of that ambitious target, despite a year packed with challenges.

As expected, Tesla (TSLA 0.06%) reported a record number of vehicle deliveries in its third quarter. The total number of deliveries, however, was even greater than analysts' average forecast. Fueling the quarter's growth was a huge increase in combined Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.

Based on those figures, the electric-car maker may now be on track to hit its original aggressive target of 500,000 total deliveries in 2020.

Tesla vehicles in a Tesla store

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Tesla's Q3 deliveries: the raw numbers

Tesla delivered approximately 139,300 vehicles in its third quarter, up 43% from the 97,000 or so it delivered in the prior-year period.

About 124,100 of those were Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, while an estimated 15,200 were the automaker's more expensive Model S and X vehicles. In Q3 2019, the Model Y hadn't launched yet, and total Model 3 deliveries were nearly 80,000. Combined Model S and X deliveries were about 17,500.

And for a statistic that highlights how quickly Tesla has recovered from its factory shutdowns earlier this year, third-quarter deliveries were up 53% sequentially.

Can Tesla hit its guidance after all?

Going into 2020, Tesla said it expected to deliver more than 500,000 vehicles this year, which would have amounted to an increase of 36% or more. But the automaker refrained from reiterating this guidance when it delivered its first-quarter update. At that time, its factory in California was shut down in order to comply with California's efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. In the company's July 22 second-quarter update, however, Tesla reaffirmed that it expected to deliver 500,000 vehicles.

Had it failed to deliver a record number of vehicles in Q3, investors would have had good reason to be concerned about Tesla's ability to  hit that full-year target. But after Tesla's significant sequential jump, it's starting to look feasible.

To pull it off, the automaker will need a strong finish -- specifically, it will need to deliver more than 181,000 Teslas in Q4 alone.

Can the company do it?

Based on information provided in its second-quarter update, the automaker has installed enough vehicle production capacity to pull off this feat. But it's still not totally in the bag.

At that time, Tesla said its Fremont factory boasted the capacity to produce 400,000 Model 3 and Y vehicles annually, as well as 90,000 Model S and X vehicles. In addition, the company said it was installing machinery at its Fremont factory to increase its annual Model 3 and Y production capacity by 100,000. Further, Tesla's Shanghai factory had the capacity to manufacture 200,000 Model 3 cars a year. On a quarterly basis, this translates to about 172,500 to 197,500 vehicles total, depending on whether the Fremont factory upgrades are in operation yet.

Daniel Sparks has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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