Tesla Q3 Model 3 Deliveries Fall Far Short

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Late Monday, Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) reported vehicle delivery totals for the third quarter of 2017. While total deliveries rose 4.5% year over year, the company only managed to deliver 220 of its just-released Model 3 and to produce only 260 since the first cars were delivered in late July.

The company has not altered its goal to ramp production of the Model 3 to 5,000 units a week by the end of this year and 10,000 per week by the end of 2018. Tesla’s target is an annual production rate of more than 500,000 vehicles a year by the end of 2018.

Third-quarter deliveries of the Model S sedan totaled 14,065 units, and deliveries of the Model X totaled 11,865 units, both the best ever for the company. An additional 4,820 of these vehicles are in transit to customers. and Tesla will not count those as delivered until the fourth quarter.

In its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Tesla noted:

It is important to emphasize that there are no fundamental issues with the Model 3 production or supply chain. We understand what needs to be fixed and we are confident of addressing the manufacturing bottleneck issues in the near-term.

Glitches in ramping production of the Model 3 are a big worry for investors, if not for Tesla. The $35,000 Model 3 is priced at about the average new car price and far below either the Model S or the Model X. The Model 3’s base price is also lower than the base price of its most direct competitor, the Chevy Bolt from General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM). The Model 3 is Tesla’s mass market play and the vehicle absolutely must succeed in the marketplace.

The Chevy Bolt sold 2,107 units in August, and with some 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3, it would appear that all Tesla has to do to overtake its GM competitor is to get Model 3 production running smoothly and on target. Easier said than done.

Tesla stock traded down about 2.2% in Tuesday’s premarket, at $333.87 in a 52-week range of $178.19 to $389.61. The stock’s 12-month consensus price target is $318.63.