Back in early April, I spent some time looking at Tesla’s 1st quarter sales, general Tesla production plans for the rest of the year, Tesla sales forecasts from others, and various statements from Elon Musk and Tesla. On April 18, I published my rough guess at what Tesla sales (deliveries) would look like for the rest of the year. To my great shock, my April 18 forecast for what Tesla sales would look like in the 3rd quarter of this year was essentially spot on. I forecasted 240,000 deliveries, while official stats from Tesla published yesterday estimate that the total was 241,300, just 1,300 (or 0.5%) more than my forecast.
With that in mind, will my 4th quarter forecast from April 18 be as accurate? Most definitely not, but we’ll revisit that in a moment and see where things stand over the whole year. As I noted in a short CleanTechnica writer chat about Tesla’s 3rd quarter sales results right after they came out, my Q3 delivery forecast — considering how long ago it was made, all the uncertainties around chips and factories, etc. — has got to be one of my best forecasts ever. Nonetheless, I do still feel pretty good about my Q4 expectations.
There are three core things to keep in mind when considering Tesla sales growth: Tesla factory expansion, Tesla battery supply, automotive chip supply. We’ve written about each of those topics recently, and quite continuously publish updates on the factories and batteries. Chips? Not so much, but maybe that will become a running theme. All things considered, it looks to me like Tesla is going to keep expanding production and delivery capacity through the end of Q4, so I’m still comfortable sticking to my April 18 forecast of 275,400 for the quarter. That said, note that someone who I rely on a lot for Tesla production and delivery updates has a significantly lower forecast. That person goes by the name “Troy Teslike.” Let’s look at what he’s expecting, but let’s first go back to April and July.
April Forecasts for Q2
I already mentioned my April forecast for Q3, but what about my April forecast for Q2? I projected 210,000 deliveries at the time, compared to Troy’s prediction of 195,000. The delivery total ended up being 201,304, somewhat in between our two estimates and a pretty good result for both of us — he was 3.1% under the end result and I was 4.3% over the end result.
April & July Forecasts for Q3
As noted, my estimate for Q3 was 240,000, 0.5% under the end total of 241,300. Troy publishes updates of his forecasts occasionally in order to take into account new data and changes at the company. In mid-April, when I made my 3rd quarter forecast of 240,000, Troy’s forecast for the quarter was 210,960. By the beginning of the 3rd quarter (July 20), he had increased that to 220,000 (8.8% below the eventual total), and by the end of the 3rd quarter (September 30), he had increased it to 235,000 (2.6% below the eventual total). As you can see, Troy is quite good at tracking what’s happening and adjusting his mid-term and short-term forecasts accordingly.
April & Current Forecasts for Q4
In April, my forecast for 4th quarter Tesla deliveries was 275,400. I’m going to stick with that. Troy’s estimate was 259,240, but he has certainly updated that since then. His most recent public estimate for the 4th quarter is 236,819. My guess is that he bumps that up a bit in the next couple of months, to 250,000 or 260,000. If things are going well, I expect him to get up near my 275,400 figure by the end of December. But we’ll see. Challenges with battery supplies, chip supplies, or factory construction could prevent my forecast from being anywhere close to possible.
What are your expectations for the 4th quarter, and thus full-year 2021 sales? Furthermore, what do you expect to happen with Giga Berlin, Giga Texas, Tesla battery supplies, and Tesla’s access to automotive chips in the 4th quarter? Additionally, are there any other hot topics that I and others should be considering while trying to work out our forecasts for the 4th quarter?
Naturally, there are also the two big Tesla automobile factories that account for all Tesla production right now. Those are Tesla’s original Fremont factory in California, the heart of the company in many regards, and the Shanghai gigafactory (aka Gigafactory 2 or Giga Shanghai). Are they now at steady-state production? Can they pump out much more than what they pumped out in the 3rd quarter? Will their production capacity perhaps even drop a bit as Giga Berlin and Giga Texas come online? I’m looking for answers — I have a 3rd quarter accuracy score to live up to!
Check in this coming Saturday for an insider chat about what’s happening at Tesla, including some exclusive info on US Tesla deliveries (which I do not have access to, just to be clear).