Tesla ships 17,400 autos in quarter, hitting revised target

By Dana Hull

Tesla's guidance changed during the year as it grappled with manufacturing more than one vehicle and a steep production ramp. Photo / Bloomberg
Tesla's guidance changed during the year as it grappled with manufacturing more than one vehicle and a steep production ramp. Photo / Bloomberg

Entrepreneur Elon Musk's Tesla Motors Inc. hit the low end of its latest target to deliver at least 50,000 vehicles for the year, shipping 17,400 vehicles in the fourth quarter.

The maker of electric cars and energy storage devices delivered 50,580 Model S sedans and Model X sport utility vehicles in 2015, Tesla said in a statement Sunday.

While that's less than the 55,000 Tesla had projected in a February letter to shareholders, it was in line with its revised estimate of 50,000 to 52,000 from November.

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Tesla's guidance changed during the year as it grappled with manufacturing more than one vehicle and a steep production ramp. It's producing the two all-electric vehicles on a shared assembly line in Fremont, California.

Musk, the chief executive officer, turned over the first six Model X SUVs to owners at a high profile event on Sept. 29, and the deliveries accelerated over the holidays. It shipped 208 Model Xs in the quarter and produced 507.

"It's good news," said Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird, in an interview Sunday. "They hit within their guidance. The X number is lower than some expectations, but production has picked up nicely."

Musk, who got the first Model X, has been candid about the challenges of engineering and manufacturing the SUV. The vehicle has complex and distinct features such as "falcon-wing" doors, independently operable second-row seats and a large, panoramic windshield.

Model X deliveries are in line with the very early stages of our Model X production ramp as we prioritize quality above all else.

Based on the daily production rate in the last week of the year, weekly output would be about 238 SUVs, Tesla said.

In its November letter to shareholders, the company had said it expected fourth-quarter deliveries of 17,000 to 19,000 vehicles.

Tesla shares rose 7.9 percent in 2015, closing at $240.01 on Dec. 31 to give it a market capitalization of $31.4 billion. The stock had closed as high as $282.26 in July.

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