Published on April 4th, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan0
3 Charts On Tesla Quarterly Delivery Trends
April 4th, 2019 by Zachary Shahan
I’ve got a lot of numbers to crunch and articles to publish now that Tesla has released its 1st quarter production and delivery numbers. Stay tuned for approximately 20–30 more charts and several articles putting Tesla’s vehicle sales numbers into context.
First, though, a simple look at Tesla’s quarterly delivery/sales trends is quite fascinating, imho.
The most generic quarterly view is possibly this first one. It simply shows Tesla vehicle deliveries quarter after quarter from the early Roadster days to this week. As you can see, there’s a steep ramp up at the end of 2018 and then a bit of a drop-off in quarter 1, 2019. But there are other ways to view the data.
In the next chart, we stick with the bars, but separate the quarters by years. From this view, you can more easily see that, while Q1 2019 has a sizable haircut compared to Q3 and Q4 2018, it is a large jump above Q1 2018, which was previously Tesla’s best first quarter in history.
Switching to a line graph but keeping the same focus — quarterly deliveries separated by year — you see in a different way how big of a year 2018 was for Tesla compared to previous years. You also see the red dot for Q1 2019 far above the first two quarters of 2018 and all quarters of all previous years.
Deliveries of the base-price Tesla Model 3 Standard Range should just be getting rolling this month. Many buyers surely held out for the $35,000 or $37,000 Model 3, but we don’t really have a clue how many. We also don’t know how many consumers will find out that Teslas are no longer crazy expensive and be enticed to buy a Model 3 Standard Range. For now, the best we have is this guidance from Tesla:
“Despite pull forward of demand from Q1 2019 into Q4 2018 due to the step down in the federal tax credit, US orders for Model 3 vehicles significantly outpaced what we were able to deliver in Q1. We reaffirm our prior guidance of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicle deliveries in 2019.”
The thing that makes this forecasting especially difficult is that the Model 3 is cost-competitive with the 10 best selling cars in the USA if you look at total cost of ownership and use some reasonable assumptions. That’s an issue because the Model 3 is a wildly better vehicle than those other models. The flip side is that most consumer know nothing or close to nothing about Tesla vehicles. Many of them have been superficially but genuinely influenced by long-term campaigns to smear Tesla and its vehicles. Consumers by and large don’t know that Tesla’s three models are the three models on the US market with the best NHTSA safety scores in history. Consumers mostly haven’t experienced the superior drive quality of Tesla vehicles or the fun and useful infotainment features. Furthermore, many consumers think Tesla is on the verge of collapse because of a misleading, long-term narrative along those lines that is blasted throughout the mainstream media on basically a daily basis.
So, when it comes down to it, you’ve got a car that is far better than anything else in its cost range but which consumers know little to nothing about. What’s the solution for that? Hmm …
Beyond 2019, things get interesting in a different way. It’s possible Model Y production could begin at the end of 2020. This is the crossover equivalent of the Tesla Model 3. As everyone knows, many consumers heavily favor crossovers over sedans these days. The Model Y should be as disruptive to the crossover market as the Model 3 is to the sedan market. Furthermore, by the time it comes out, the mass market should have a much better understanding that Teslas aren’t just for the rich, that they compete with mass-market vehicles like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Escape, and Honda CR-V. In other words, we should see another step change in Tesla deliveries at that time.
The way I’ve been putting it in numerous conversations is: In the long term, demand for Teslas has to be insane, but in the near term, it’s very unclear how much word of mouth, some internet marketing, and Tesla stores can drive fresh demand and keep those bar charts standing tall.