As the end of the year, and consequently the end of the fourth quarter, is getting closer, investors and analysts are debating whether or not Tesla can achieve its ambitious delivery goal of 17,000 to 19,000 cars in the last 3 months of the year for a total of 50,000 to 52,000 in 2015.
Achieving the lower-end of the guidance would mean a 46% quarter to quarter increase and a 73% increase over the same period last year. We’ve already reported on registration data for October and November for Tesla’s most important European markets, but now with more data coming from California and Denmark, as well as new information about the Model X and demonstration vehicles, it looks like Tesla is poised to achieve at least the lower-end of its guidance.
In Europe, Denmark is making a big difference for Tesla in the fourth quarter. Car buyers in the country are making electric vehicle sales surge by taking advantage of tax breaks before they start phasing out in 2016.
During the fourth quarter 2014, Tesla delivered 158 cars in Denmark and during the last quarter, it delivered 355 Model S’s based on registration data. From October to mid-December, the company registered 1,597 cars (via nrpla.dk) – already up almost 350% versus the last quarter and there’s still a few weeks left.
The policy change was announced in October, but with 113 Model S’s registered in the month, Tesla didn’t feel the impact yet. November saw the first significant increase with 525 cars registered (more than Tesla’s deliveries in the country in 2014), while the latest data from mid-December already show 959 Teslas registered during the first 2 weeks of the month.
December delivery numbers could increase significantly as several new buyers on Tesla’s Danish forum are reporting delivery dates for the last 2 weeks of the year.
Tesla confirmed having ordered 2,500 license plates in anticipation of this surge in demand.
California is by far Tesla’s biggest market in North America. Like every other market, the company doesn’t release monthly sales number, but we can get a good idea of deliveries based on the state’s reports of ‘clean vehicle rebates’:
During the first 2 months of the quarter, the state of California issued 1,272 rebates for new Tesla cars – up from 998 during the same period last year.
Statistically in California, December is always Tesla’s best month for deliveries during the fourth quarter since it’s where Tesla produces its cars, the state has fewer transport related variables, which makes it a safer option to focus on for end of quarter deliveries.
Based on a projection from last year sales and the rebates issued during the first 2 months of the quarter, Tesla could deliver over 1,045 new vehicles in California in December for about 2,300 cars in Q4.
But December could possibly see much more deliveries considering CARB approved an income cap for higher-income consumers under the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), which affects a lot of potential Tesla buyers. The company sent an email blast to certain Model S owners and prospective buyers who could be affected by the change, which will take place during the first quarter 2016. The move could have convinced potential buyers to pull the trigger and normally, Tesla tries to accommodate owners with a quick delivery before the end of the quarter in those situations.
The Model X, Loaners and Demo Vehicles
The Model X’s production ramp up was (and still is to a certain degree) a big unknown for Q4 deliveries. Presumably, it’s the reason why Tesla offered such a wide range (17,000 to 19,000) in its guidance for the quarter. Now with a few dozens Founders Series and the first Signature Series Model X’s having been delivered this weekend, we have a better picture of Model X deliveries.
Model X VIN #664 was recently spotted at the Syosset service center in Long Island and several reservation holders are reporting having received “soft delivery dates” from Tesla. Also, some people who recently had the chance to take a Tesla Fremont factory tour are reporting seeing several Model X’s on the assembly line.
Tesla seems well on its way to achieve its production goal of “a few hundreds [Model X] per week” by the end of the month.
Finally, Tesla confirmed adding a “significant amount” of demo vehicles, marketing cars and service loaners to offer for direct sales. At the end of September, Tesla had almost $700 million in finished goods, which of course included a lot of cars in transit, but also this “significant amount” of vehicles for immediate sale.
As Tesla plans to produce between 15,000 and 17,000 cars this quarter while delivering between 17,000 and 19,000, you can expect vehicles for immediate sale to represent an important portion of deliveries. And recent anecdotal reports show that those vehicles, which Tesla offers at a discount, are moving quickly and often even before reaching Tesla’s CPO website.
The combination of all those favorable circumstances point to Tesla achieving at least the lower-end of its 2015 and fourth quarter guidance.
Featured image: Tesla Model S, photographed in Switzerland by James Lipman