With the third quarter more than half over, Tesla (TSLA 1.16%) investors have more visibility into how the electric car maker's deliveries might be faring. Unfortunately, any forecast at this time should still bake in plenty of conservatism. Uncertainty remains particularly elevated in China, where Tesla's highest-output factory is located.
Earlier this year, operational restrictions ordered by the government as part of Shanghai's efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 were the main detractor from production rates for Tesla. Now power shortage challenges amid a heat wave are threatening manufacturers' operations and potentially disrupting the company's supply chain.
But despite the continued uncertainty Tesla is facing, investors can still do their best to estimate a ballpark range of where deliveries could come in for the quarter. More importantly, a close look at Tesla's business still paints a rosy picture for the company's growth outlook in Q3 and beyond despite current challenges.
Strong growth is likely
It's difficult to peg exactly where Tesla's quarterly deliveries could fall in Q3, but one thing is almost certain: Strong year-over-year growth is likely.
Tesla's second-quarter global deliveries grew 27% year over year, and that included either a temporary shutdown or limited operating capacity at Tesla's high-output factory in Shanghai during the majority of the quarter. Tesla's ability to grow global production this fast even with these constraints speaks to the company's momentum. Tesla also said it wrapped up Q2 with record monthly production levels at its Shanghai factory. So even though potential power limitations are a threat to Tesla's manufacturing rates during the remainder of the quarter, it's likely that the automaker has already built a significant number of vehicles at the factory.
Finally, management seemed optimistic during Tesla's second-quarter earnings call about Tesla's potential production growth in the second half of 2022. Given that the Q2 call occurred at a time when management already had a few weeks of visibility into the second half of the year and Shanghai's challenges specifically, the optimistic tone bodes well for the company's potential third-quarter vehicle production and deliveries in both China and globally.
Don't forget about Tesla's new factories
While continued challenges in China remain a risk to Tesla's production in the important market, investors should remember that Tesla not only has its legacy factory in California, but it also recently started production at two new factories: one in Germany and one in Texas.
In Tesla's second-quarter update, management said it has installed enough tooling at its factories in Berlin and Austin to eventually achieve production rates of greater than 250,000 vehicles annually at each factory. This compares to the installed capacity of approximately 750,000 and 650,000 units annually in Shanghai and California, respectively.
Of course, it will take time for production rates to ramp up at the company's new factories, but management said it made progress on this front during Q2. This progress is likely to continue in Q3.
All of this to say, a significant sequential improvement in Tesla's deliveries is likely in Q3. Indeed, the sequential improvement could be so significant that the company returns to delivery levels from the first quarter. After delivering more than 310,000 vehicles in Q1, quarterly units delivered to customers fell to under 250,000 in Q2. Could deliveries meet or exceed Q1 levels in Q3? It's likely. If deliveries were 315,000 or greater for the period, this would imply year-over-year growth of more than 30% for the quarter -- a nice acceleration from the 27% growth Tesla achieved in Q2.