Did Tesla Motors deliver 2,500 Model S sedans in Q4?

In November, Tesla Motors assured Wall Street that it was on track to deliver 2,500 to 3,000 units of its all-electric Model S sedan in the fourth quarter.

So did they? Tesla isn’t likely to reveal the numbers until the next earnings call, and estimates vary wildly.

“About 7oo is my estimate but the margin of error is 200 either way,” said analyst Theo O’Neill, managing director of Litchfield Hills Research.

If chatter on the Tesla Forums is any indication, there was a surge of Model S deliveries in the final days of 2012 and a sense that the company scrambled to beat Q4 expectations.

Cars are delivered in batches, not VIN sequence.  If car 3157 is destined for the Bay Area, and car 3156 is destined for New York, 3157 would probably be delivered first. Financing, options and travel time all play a role in when reservation holders actually take ownership of their cars.

John Tamplin of Smyrna, GA (Reservation #9358, VIN 3235) confirmed that he got his Model S  on Sunday.

The Tesla Motors Forums are a rabbit hole of rumors, real information, spreadsheets and VIN numbers, with reservation holders anxiously trying to figure out when their vehicles will be delivered and others wishing there was an app to track their Model S as it makes its way across the country by truck.

The delivery system has suffered from some glitches, including the fact that some vehicles have reportedly arrived scratched and in less than pristine condition.

On January 6th, someone from the Atlanta area posted that Tesla delivered the wrong car.

“My VIN is 3126. This car’s VIN was 3162….What a bummer! If your car is VIN 3162, your car in in Atlanta.”

Tesla built 350 cars in the third quarter and delivered 250 cars to customers, but planned to ramp up production to roughly 400 cars a week by December. Some analysts think its likely the company could have met the low-end of their target for Q4.

“It’s possible that they produced 2,500 cars and got them out the door in the fourth quarter,” said Carter Driscoll, an analyst with Capstone Investments. “It’s possible. It won’t be at the high end of the range, but it could be the low range. What matters is profitability. They say they’ll deliver 20,000 units in 2013, and 20,00o units is the new barometer of success.”

I’ve heard that Tesla delivered 3,103 Model S sedans in 2013, a number so exact its either totally off or exactingly accurate. Stay tuned.




Dana Hull Dana Hull (252 Posts)

Dana Hull covers clean technology and energy policy for the San Jose Mercury News. She often writes about electric vehicles, the smart grid, the solar industry and California energy policy, from RPS goals to Gov. Jerry Brown's big dreams for distributed generation.