On Tuesday morning, Tesla released its production and delivery results for Q3 2018. During those three months, the company built a total of 80,142 electric vehicles, of which 53,239 were the somewhat more affordable Model 3. Over the same time period, the company delivered even more—83,500 vehicles in total. Overall, 55,480 of these were Model 3s compared to 14,470 Model Ss and 13,190 Model Xs.
That’s a big increase over Q2 2018, when Tesla delivered 40,768 vehicles, and it’s no doubt welcome news for a company that has been rocked by scandal of late. Tesla has recently navigated numerous resignations among senior staff and a now-settled lawsuit with the SEC over insider trading following CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter-induced manipulation of the stock price.
These latest results from Tesla are solely limited to vehicle production numbers, so we can’t yet say if the company has kept its promise from Q2 2018 to be cashflow positive. In its favor is the fact that those Q3 Model 3s were “limited to higher-priced variants”—Musk has previously stated on Twitter that Tesla could not yet afford to build a $35,000 version and survive.
However, there are reasons for pessimism. For one, the market for trading emissions credits—which has previously been Tesla’s path to profitable quarters—has dried up. Model 3 production, while impressive, is still also far below the target Tesla set itself in its Q2 investor update. Three months ago, the company wrote that “[h]aving achieved our 5,000 per week milestone, we will now continue to increase that further, with our aim being to produce 6,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by late August.” But actual Model 3 production during Q3 has averaged out at a little more than 4,000 cars a week. And the company had to offer incentives to new EV buyers such as free supercharging, despite often telling journalists that Tesla does not have to incentivize sales.
What’s more, the company is having problems efficiently delivering the cars it builds. Musk has told upset customers that “we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell,” and the CEO has incomprehensibly suggested the solution is for Tesla to build its own car carriers, despite no evidence of any shortage of car haulage capacity.
Some have speculated that Tesla’s insistence on building its own enterprise resource planning system is at the root of this problem, which has led to much grousing from disgruntled customers on Twitter and at variousTesla forums. According to Tesla’s statement, “8,048 Model 3 vehicles and 3,776 Model S and X vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of Q3, and will be delivered in early Q4.”