Tesla nearly tripled its capability to produce + deliver vehicles to customers in 2018 as it scaled from a delivery run rate of around 120,000 vehicles per year up to more than 350,000 vehicles per year at the end of 2018. That news was tucked neatly into the company’s Q4 update, where it also broke news of a $2,000 price drop on all of its vehicles (across the board). Most notably, it shared the first draft of its Q4 production and delivery numbers, which show stunning growth year over year.
In fact, it may be the biggest year of growth from one company in the history of the auto industry.
“Tesla’s achievements in 2018 likely represent the biggest single-year growth in the history of the automotive industry … an increase of almost 3X,” Tesla wrote. “As a result, we’re starting to make a tangible impact on accelerating the world to sustainable energy. Additionally, 2018 was the first time in decades that an American car – the Model 3 – was the best-selling premium vehicle in the U.S. for the full year, with U.S. sales of Model 3 roughly double those of the runner up.” [Editor’s note: We don’t yet have sales figures for other companies, but we will get them soon and publish official comparisons. Tesla’s statement must be based on December estimates for other automakers.]
The increase in Tesla’s delivery run rate was one of the themes of 2018 for Tesla. As it dug its way out of production hell in June and worked the kinks out of its Model 3 production lines, Tesla sales soared. Still, it then found itself in delivery hell as it scrambled to get tens of thousands of new Model 3s to customers in the back half of the year.
Growing pains along the way likely felt more like skin grafts than a more typical stretching exercise for the company. It would be a struggle for any company to adjust to a delivery rate that went from <2,000 cars per week to >7,000 per week in a period of just a couple months.
We took delivery of our Long Range Model 3 in July and the experience at the Santa Barbara Service Center went off without a hitch, but buyers quickly found that not all the kinks in the delivery experience had been ironed out yet. Tesla was drinking from a firehose, or the customers were.
It is easy to lose sight of the impact Tesla is making on the automotive world amidst news and noise about nightmare delivery stories of new and used vehicles. The truth is that Tesla is making some of the best electric vehicles on the market as determined by the ultimate indicator of success: sales. People are buying Teslas.
Tesla has made significant progress ramping up its delivery capacity and all signs point to this being not a plateau but just the next step in a much longer journey towards the company’s goal — accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transportation powered by renewable energy.
2018 was a great year for Tesla and I’m expecting the company will blow our socks off a few more times as it keeps ramping up in 2019. Remember, a Chinese gigafactory is now under construction, and it will produce both the Model 3 and the Model Y.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 1, 2019
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