Published on January 5th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan


Tesla Surpasses 50,000 Sales In 2015

January 5th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession (with some edits at the beginning).

Haters gonna hate, but Tesla* just busted through the 50,000/year sales barrier, as it projected it would; Model X production is ramping up exponentially; and the company is now bringing in well over $1 billion a quarter (maybe $2 billion a quarter) in revenue. Tesla (TSLA) stock took a hit yesterday, apparently because Tesla deliveries were on the lower end of its guidance, but everything seems to be moving along as planned at Tesla Motors.

Despite a lot of hype that Tesla couldn’t hit its huge 17,000+ delivery target in quarter 4, the Silicon Valley company did indeed surpass 17,000 deliveries (aka sales). It didn’t come close to the higher end of the projections it put out a few months ago, but it did still hit guidance with 17,192 Model S sedans and 208 Model X SUVs delivered (that’s 17,400 vehicles in total), with many of those Model Xs being Signature Series Model Xs delivered in the last week or so of the year.

As far as production goes, which we were speculating about based on some leaks we received, Tesla announced that it produced 507 Model X SUVs in Q4. That’s a little bit less than I was hoping/speculating, but in the ballpark. Anyhow, as Elon noted on the last Tesla Motors quarterly conference call, production of the Model X was expected to hit a steep ramp-up right around the end of the year — put that a little bit before the end of the year, and production could have been a few hundred or even several hundred higher; but put it more at the beginning of 2016, and the total would have been a few hundred lower. (The “daily production rate in the last week of the year” = “238 Model X vehicles per week,” and production has been ramping up exponentially.)

In the end, Tesla delivered 50,580 vehicles in 2015, slightly above its 50,000–52,000 guidance. And, remember, that’s almost 50,000 more than 3 years ago.


Red Model X

Photo by dvchaw

One reason some people were so skeptical about Tesla hitting that guidance was that it meant a huge increase in production and deliveries in Q4. Another reason is that finally producing and then ramping up production of the Tesla Model X had proved a bit difficult. Nonetheless, the guidance was based on increased production capacity in the Fremont Tesla factory, with almost all of that production being of Model S sedans. In the end, Tesla knew what it was talking about, and skeptics again didn’t (note: if you’re still shorting Tesla, maybe it’s time to wake up and accept defeat).

So, how big was Q4? The 17,400 deliveries were 75% higher than in Q4 2014, and 48% higher than Tesla’s previous quarterly record. Not too shabby, right? Very likely, that’s $1.5 billion to $2 billion in revenue (in one quarter).

What does all this mean for Tesla (and TSLA) going forward? I think it means that Tesla has gotten past the initial big hurdles involved with production of the Model X, and that Tesla will indeed deliver over 1,000 (maybe even 2,000) Model X SUVs in January. I think it also means that Tesla is set for solid growth in 2016.Could 70,000 deliveries be in store? 80,000? 90,000? What’s your guess? Elon has projected that the company will produce 1600–1800 vehicles a week in 2016, on average, with maximum capacity equal to 2000/week. 1700 vehicles per week would equal nearly 90,000 vehicles in 2016.

People are going to keep hating on Tesla, expecting Tesla stock to drop through the floor, expecting the Model X falcon-wing doors to go haywire and result in billions of dollars of losses for Tesla, and so on and so on, but it looks like Tesla is actually on pretty solid footing now, while aiming for the sky.

With a Tesla Model 3 unveiling right around the corner, and Gigafactory construction moving along faster than expected, I’m guessing 2016 is going to be a good year for Tesla.

*Full Disclosure: I own stock in Tesla… and don’t intend to sell it anytime soon.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • RnD

    The original forecast was 55,000 units. This was downgraded by Tesla in August. The final result for 2015 was 50,580 units or approximately 10% down on the original forecast.

    Barely beating a downgraded forecast is not something most investors would call a laudable achievement. Thankfully I sold my stock in July at $2.80. It should also be noted that alternative fuelled vehicles sales (includes EVs) in the US fell by 12% in 2015.

    I suspect many are becoming more disillusioned as time goes by.

  • Pat R.

    Hey Zach, I’ve got some TSLA stock too.
    My question…why would people hate Tesla? It’s an American company with the factory in the States. It would seem more like Americans would be applauding Elon Musk for building and employing in the USA.
    Last month I was ‘channeling’ Tesla. All I could think about was the big raffle ticket drawing. I didn’t win, but I was happy to see that the Climate XChange organization got some $ for their fundraiser (to pass the first in the nation fee on CO2 emissions.)
    If you worry about the future of the planet and your future grandchildren, you’d want Tesla to be VERY successful because their mission is to “accelerate the move to sustainable transportation,” (thus reducing CO2 emissions).

    Footnote: If Tesla’s stock falls through the floor, I’m gettin more.

    • Brent Jatko

      Exactly, Pat. He’s changing the personal transportation market and giving jobs and innovation to society as a bonus.

      What’s to hate (other than his somewhat fanatic personality)?

      • eveee

        Hes an amusing, entertaining, humble, fanatic. I can live with that. Some people get jealous, I guess. There is all this rich boy, poor boy envy floating around saying EVs are only rich toys. The complaint only comes from conservative billionaires.

  • Mikgigs

    Zachary, it would be nice to be there some article that tracks all small changes made to tesla model s since 2012(it was said that the car I changing in every moment). So far I haven’t found a complete overview of those small upgrades, but only forum excerpts. It will be interesting to compare tesla s 2013 vs 2016

  • onesecond

    Well, Tesla has hit its sales target with the Model S alone and stated that the production rate target would be 1:1 for X and S, so the upper limit is 100.000 cars in 2016. Of course it will be lower because they are still ramping up production of the X. Didn’t Elon say something about 80 to 90.000 cars?

    • 1600-1800/week, on average, for 2016. i’m updating the article. 😀

  • Susan Bergman

    How about that Model S fire in Norway that just about melted the car? Is the TSLA Stockholder going to write about that? Or maybe about the Zach’s downgrade that just happened? It would be great to read some unbiased reporting about this lithium battery company, but I’m not holding my breath.

    • I hardly consider 1 single fire news. We don’t report on thousands of gas car fires a year, so why report on 1 EV fire?

      Zach’s downgrade? Haven’t seen that. Got a link?

      • sault

        Maybe she’s talking about your prediction of Tesla only shipping 71,100 cars in 2016…

        • Martin

          What was the number of sales forecast for the year 2020, about 500.000?
          With 4 factories, two in the US one in Europe, one in China, what would the limit of production be?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Production will be limited by battery availability. Tesla has space to set up many assembly lines in the Fremont plant.

          • Martin

            From another article on this site, batteries will not be a problem, some of the current production plants are only at about 20 % total capacity.
            I think the highest number is about under 30 % of capacity used.
            And then there will be the giga factory and perhaps other to be build as well.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tesla is building capacity for 500,000 EVs but that may be downsized by some of the batteries going to their storage devices.

            LG Chem is building enough capacity to power 450,000 EVs. They will be supplying 20+ car manufacturers.

            China has their own thing going.

            But the bottom line is that EV production will be limited by battery production for the next few years. It’s not that hard to convert a ICEV assembly line to an EV assembly line but you’ve got to have the components to assemble.

          • neroden

            Basically each Powerpack displaces one car (slightly more). Tesla’s had about 40,000 Powerpack-equivalents reserved, more or less. So yeah, some of those batteries may be diverted to the storage market. I think the Gigafactory will be expanded sooner rather than later!

          • Bob_Wallace

            It doesn’t look like GM is bringing enough to the game – production levels and lack of a long distance charging system. But their entry is likely to cause a lot more interest in EVs.

            I suspect Tesla has the next Gigafactory totally planned. The second one should be a lot quicker to come online.

            If Tesla delivers a Mod3 that outclasses the Bolt then I suspect Tesla will be able to turn things up another notch. All the way to 12?

  • phineasjw

    I haven’t listened to the call — any updates on the Gigafactory or the Model 3? Is the Model 3 unveiling still set for March?

    • This is just a short press release they put out at the beginning of each quarter. No call for this.

  • Brent Jatko

    I’d guess 75,000 this calendar year unless another global recession hits.

    • I’m going to go with 71,000-73,000. But think I’m being conservative.

      Fine, if I have to pick a *single* number, I’ll go with 71,100. 😀

      • eveee

        We should make it a pool. Estimates for Tesla production in 2016. See how we do vs the big name estimators. Just for fun. 🙂

        • Tim

          Like the Price is Right – closest without going over! My guess: 83,101. Sorry, Zach.

          • eveee

            Yay. Let the competition begin!

        • Zorba

          I’ll go for 88k. Feeling optimistic.

        • Karl the brewer

          Who fancies a doing a google doc / spreadsheet for the pool?

        • apply a little reason

          Assuming Tesla didn’t just bring forward Model S sales to reach their annual goal and then production for Q1 goes down as the Model X ramps up. Then we ought to be looking at something like this:
          17,000 Model S per quater – 68,000
          We know that there is a backlog of over 20,000 (I’m rounding down massively) Model X’s which they will have delivered as new reservations after the X launch were still late 2016. Or we could say that production of the X will average say 500 per week = 26,000
          88,000 – 94,000.

          I’ll run with 90,000

          • eveee

            Thats even better. You showed your calculations. I agree with assumption number one. Tesla is not going to sacrifice Model S production to get Model X going. If anything it might be the reverse. They are trying to ramp both at the same time. And make room for a new vehicle, the Model 3. IMO, they will probably need to consider another GigaFactory and other auto assembly plants sooner than expected. Demand outstrips supply.
            So are we really guessing production numbers? Tesla just increased Model S production to about 17,200 per quarter. The track for Model X is 238 vehicles per week. That would make it 12,376 vehicles next year, probably holding back production for quality, and ramping, a bit less. But Model S production is still coming up a bit. But we know 2015 Model S production was decreased for supplier deliveries. What about batteries? GigaFactory has to come online. But current Model S deliveries seem to be managing.
            I checked production capacity, and is way beyond any of these numbers.
            In the neighborhood of 2,500/week.
            So its in the area of supplier delivery and Musk throttling delivery to control quality. Since there has been noises about increasing production, and last quarter 2015 was underachieving, I expect Musk will want to make up for that.

            This last quarter was only 1,323 cars per week, but the factory was ramping the new line.

            I will go with Tesla guidance and add that I expect Model S deliveries to increase slightly, because the present rate was limited by factory retooling. So a gradual increase from 1700/week, to 1800/week puts me at 104,000 vehicles next year.
            It seems crazy, but look at it this way. Tesla production was about 20k for the first six months of 2015. They had to increase that 50% for the next six months. If they did that in 2016, they would be way over 100k units, 45k for the first six months, 67.5k for the second six months. I am backing off of that because they need to keep quality up and component delivery is always lurking. They have production capacity for 130,000 Model S/X s now, according to Musk and my calculations, based on 2,500/week.

            Since present Model S deliveries are 50k, and Model X production is supposed to increase to 800/wk, that only leaves a small increase in Model S deliveries next year to get to 104k vehicles next year. 58,000 Model S 46,000 Model X.

          • neroden

            I’m afraid I want to bet on 90,000 as well. Here’s why:

            The Model S production line is basically set up for 50,000 per year on a single shift. They now have two production lines (call it one for Model S and one for Model X), which gives them 100,000 per year on a single shift. But they’re going to be slowed down by the ramp up on Model X, so I figure only 90,000.

            Right now, I think Tesla still wants the downtime for reconfiguration each day. But in 2017, they might go to two shifts….

          • Bob_Wallace

            Or they could open a third line in 2016. Or go to a second shift next week.

            Predicting what Tesla will do is a risky game.

            Tesla might lower the price of their entry ModS. Their pencil gurus might have figured out that they could drive sales a lot higher now that GM has validated longer range EVs. Double S/X sales and use that sweet GPM revenue to get their next Gigafactory underway.

            These folks are playing a big game. This isn’t major car manufacturing company T-ball.

    • Karl the brewer

      Regarding global recession, 50,000 for this year and 70,000 for next with oil sinking like a stone makes this an even more impressive achievement. Not much more the Saudi’s can do 🙂

      • Brent Jatko

        The Russians have turned their oil taps wide open as well.

        “Pootie-poot” needs his money.

        • Karl the brewer

          Indeed. They appear trapped by their own greed in a race to the bottom.

      • eveee

        They could give away oil for free.

Back to Top ↑