Amidst admission that this year has delivered a “hellish” several months for Elon Musk and Tesla factory workers, the Tesla CEO and co-founder also dropped a figure that it seems half the world has been waiting to hear. It’s a figure that will perhaps seem too old to rely on in just one week and epically out of date in a month or two, but it’s the kind of figure that could shift a few billion dollars here or there in the investment and trading community.
The number: 500.
Tesla is reportedly producing approximately 500 Model 3 electric supersedans per day. That would equal 15,000 for the month of June if it holds steady — if it doesn’t grow. In actuality, Elon Musk said today that this rate of 500 a day, or 3,500 a week, put the company on track to hit a production average of 5,000 Model 3s a week by the end of June.
Just looking at cars — not pickup trucks or SUVs — 15,000 units a month would make it the #9 or #10 best selling car in the USA. That’s if you assume the rate holds steady for all of June, if you assume all the cars are shipped to the USA (there’s an expectation that Tesla is actually now shipping larger numbers of the vehicles abroad in order to not cross the 200,000 US delivery milestone until July), and if you expect more or less the same sales numbers for other cars in June as we saw in May.
If you bump up the Model 3 average to 4,000 a week for the month as a whole, that would more clearly put the Model 3 in the #9 spot, or perhaps even in the #8 spot.
Not too shabby for a humble young automaker from Silicon Valley.
Update: As some commenters have noted, there is an (obvious) lag between production and deliveries/sales. As such, 15,000–16,000 Model 3 deliveries in June is nearly impossible, and the number is probably more like 12,000–15,000. So, keep that in mind when scrolling below and go ahead and consider these charts July estimates or Tesla production vs actual sales for other automakers (as I often framed it).
|Car Model||Non-Tesla sales = May sales. Tesla Model 3 sales = production estimate for June.|
|Tesla Model 3 (est.)||16,000|
Of course, those comparisons are for the Tesla Model 3 compared to all cars on the US market. What if you just compared the Model 3 to cars in its class?
We’ll pretend for a few moments that the base $35,000 Model 3 is already being produced — not just the $49,000+ version — so that we can compare the Model 3 to high-selling premium sedans that start at around the $35,000 price tag. Here’s what we find:
May Sales & Tesla June Production Estimate
|Small & Midsize Premium Car Market Share|
|Tesla Model 3||15,000||31%|
|BMW 2+3+4 Series||7,187||15%|
|Lexus ES + IS||6,008||13%|
|Infiniti Q50 + Q60||1,238||3%|
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class + CLA-Class combined for 7,676 sales in the US in May. The Audi A4 and A5 combined for 7,536 sales. The BMW 2 Series + 3 Series + 4 Series scored 7,187 sales. The Lexus ES + IS scored 6,008 sales. The Acura TLX landed 2,723. Other models in this class aren’t really worth mentioning. In any case, even combining models from competing brands (which I actually think does make sense, since Tesla only has a few models to choose from), the Tesla Model 3 seems to be scoring more points than the competing Mercedes and BMW models combined.
In fact, Tesla Model 3 sales would account for approximately 31% of small and midsize premium-class car sales in the United States if 16,000 Model 3’s were in fact produced this month and all of those produced cars went to US customers.
Getting back to where these cars will be delivered, yes, it seems a large number of them are also going to Canada. Again, there’s a popular hypothesis that US deliveries are being delayed in June — pushed back to July — so that Tesla’s 200,000th delivery to the US doesn’t occur until Q3 2018. The reason for that is that hitting that milestone in July would mean that a lot more Tesla customers could take advantage of the $7,500 US federal tax credit, or at least a federal tax credit of some size.
Tesla hasn’t made any comments about this in a long time, and Elon hasn’t sent any tantalizing tweets about it, but he did indicate at some point that Tesla would do what it could to help as many customers as possible benefit from the tax credit. Pushing off a few thousand or so US deliveries to July seems like exactly the kind of thing he implied. And, to look at the cooler side of “production hell,” that could make a lot of people happy for Tesla’s manufacturing struggles.
As far as July, if Tesla averaged just 5,000 Model 3’s per week, that might make the car the #6 or #7 best selling car in the country. Additionally, it would make the Model 3 the #1 best selling car from a US company.