The big jump in deliveries over the first two quarters is the strongest indication we’ve seen in two years that Tesla is figuring out how to build cars.
Tesla reported its third-quarter delivery numbers on Sunday, and took a big step toward reassuring investors that it will achieve its guidance of 50,000 deliveries for the second half of 2016.
The automaker delivered 22,500 vehicles and said another 5,500 on their way to customers. The quarter was a big improvement on the previous two, in which Tesla failed to deliver even 15,000 vehicles.
True, Elon Musk and his team probably aren’t going to hit the upper end of their overall 2016 guidance of 80,000 to 90,000 deliveries.
But without a major needle-moving news event in store for the fourth quarter — apart from a potential announcement of a compact SUV/crossover to be built off the forthcoming mass-market Model 3 platform — strong delivery numbers could catalyze a Tesla stock move, sending the bears into hibernation and giving the bulls something to bolster their case.
The big jump in deliveries over the first two quarters is also the strongest indication we’ve seen in two years that Tesla is actually getting pretty good at building both its vehicles, the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV. Overall production — vehicles assembled rather than sales booked — at 25,185 supports a 50,000-vehicles second-half on the factory side. The only major looming obstacle is getting those cars to customers.
It bears noting that this is one of those ways in which Tesla business model can be a hindrance when it comes to recording sales. Traditional automakers don’t have to wait until a customer takes delivery to record a sale; they can count sales as vehicles roll out of factories and head into the dealer channel.
Tesla acts as its own dealer, selling directly to consumers, so it has to wait until the car is handed over to count the sale.