By: Steve Smith
Another quarter, another disappointing delivery announcement from Tesla, which moments ago reported that for the fourth quarter and full year, had delivered 22,200 and 76,230 vehicles, well short of Wall Street estimates of 25,000 for the quarter and shy of the full year goal of 80,000. To mitigate the disappointment, Tesla explained that its “Q4 delivery count should be viewed as slightly conservative, as we only count a car as delivered if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct.” Which, of course, is how all other carmakers define their deliveries as well.
The company also announced that it had produced a total of 24,882 vehicles in Q4 and a total of 83,922 for the full year, trying to offset the poor deliveries number by reporting a 52% increase in Model X net orders.
However, the market was far more disappointed by the miss, which the company blamed on “production challenges” leading to missed shipping dates: “the delay in production resulted in challenges that impacted quarterly deliveries, including, among other things, cars missing shipping cutoffs for Europe and Asia. ”
Tesla also blamed customers for being unable to take “physical delivery” of the car, to wit: “In total, about 2,750 vehicles missed being counted as deliveries in Q4 either due to last-minute delays in transport or because the customer was unable to physically take delivery.”
It was not immediately clear if that is another way of saying the customer “cancelled” the order, although it does point in that direction with the following clarification: “even where these customers had already fully paid for their vehicle, we still did not count these as deliveries in Q4.”
One of these days, Elon Musk may just run out of excuses and be forced to admit that the growth rate he has led Wall Street to believe, as well as the implied deliveries, are simply too high. Putting Tesla’s amibitions goals in perspective, the company hopes to deliver 1,000,000 cars by 2020. So far it is well behind schedule.
The market, while likely giving TSLA the benefit of the doubt yet again, was rather displeases with the initial announcement.
Full press release below
PALO ALTO, CA — (Marketwired) — 01/03/17 — Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) produced 24,882 vehicles in Q4, resulting in total 2016 production of 83,922 vehicles. This was an increase of 64% from 2015.Tesla delivered approximately 22,200 vehicles in Q4, of which 12,700 were Model S and 9,500 were Model X. When added to the rest of the year, total 2016 deliveries were approximately 76,230. Our Q4 delivery count should be viewed as slightly conservative, as we only count a car as delivered if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct.
Because of short-term production challenges starting at the end of October and lasting through early December from the transition to new Autopilot hardware, Q4 vehicle production was weighted more heavily towards the end of the quarter than we had originally planned. We were ultimately able to recover and hit our production goal, but the delay in production resulted in challenges that impacted quarterly deliveries, including, among other things, cars missing shipping cutoffs for Europe and Asia. Although we tried to recover these deliveries and expedite others by the end of the quarter, time ran out before we could deliver all customer cars. In total, about 2,750 vehicles missed being counted as deliveries in Q4 either due to last-minute delays in transport or because the customer was unable to physically take delivery. Even where these customers had already fully paid for their vehicle, we still did not count these as deliveries in Q4.
In addition to Q4 deliveries, about 6,450 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter. These will be counted as deliveries in Q1 2017.
Vehicle demand in Q4 was particularly strong. Q4 net orders for Model S and X, which were an all-time record for us, were 52% higher than Q4 2015 and 24% higher than our previous record quarter in Q3 2016.
Tesla vehicle deliveries represent only one measure of the company’s financial performance and should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results, which depend on a variety of factors, including the cost of sales, foreign exchange movements and mix of directly leased vehicles.