2017 Tesla Model 3 and Model S in Tesla assembly plant parking lot, Fremont, CA, November 2017
Tesla said it delivered 1,550 Model 3 electric cars between October 1 and December 31 last year, but built 2,425 over the same period.
That compares to a total of 260 Model 3s delivered in the third quarter, after a splashy “handover event” in which the first 30 cars were delivered to buyers.
The Model 3, the electric car starting at $35,000, is intended to take the Silicon Valley startup to hundreds of thousands of vehicles a year, but it has been in “production hell” for several months, in the words of CEO Elon Musk.
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Deliveries of the mainstay Model S hatchback sedan and the Model X crossover utility vehicle were essentially on target.
It delivered 15,200 Model Ses and 13,120 Model Xes, 9 percent more than the third-quarter totals of 14,065 and 11,865 respectively.
The latest numbers for the two larger cars, plus the 1,810 Model 3s delivered since July, put total Tesla deliveries for 2017 at 103,122 vehicles.
Tesla Motors production line for Tesla Model S, Fremont, California
That makes 2017 the first year in which Tesla crossed the six-figure mark; its 2016 deliveries were 76,000 Model S and Model X electric cars.
Tesla confirmed that it had “slightly reduced” its Model S and Model X production rates to redirect resources toward solving the production bottlenecks that had bedeviled the Model 3 in the second half of the year.
It has made “major progress” toward that goal, it said. It built 793 Model 3 cars in the last seven working days of the fourth quarter, according to the press release issued Wednesday afternoon.
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The late burst of Model 3 production explains, Tesla said, why it wasn’t able to deliver many of the Model 3s it has now built.
The company now has 860 further Model 3s in transit to buyers (as well as 2,520 Model S and X cars).
Deliveries of the Model 3 are now “accelerating rapidly” to non-employee buyers, Tesla said, adding that “we’re confident our customers will love them.”
However, the company’s goal of producing 5,000 electric cars a week has been pushed back again, to the end of June 2018.
CEO Musk promised in July that Tesla would hit that pace by the end of last year. That goal was pushed out to the end of the first quarter by last fall, and now it’s moved to the end of the second quarter.
Tesla attributed the delay to a continued “focus on quality and efficiency rather than simply pushing for the highest possible volume in the shortest period of time.”
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Tesla closed its press release with a note of gratitude:
We’re very grateful to everyone at Tesla who has poured their heart and soul into helping with the Model 3 ramp and creating the progress we are seeing.
We’re also very appreciative of our Model 3 customers, who continue to stick by us while patiently waiting for their cars.
The company will release its fourth-quarter financial results in early to mid February.
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