Tesla Posts Record EV Deliveries In Fourth Quarter – But Misses Expectations

Tesla, the world’s leading maker of electric vehicles, reported a record volume of deliveries in the final quarter of 2022, though it was less than analysts had expected, closing out a turbulent year marked by a plunging stock price, production disruptions in China and ongoing chaos around CEO Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter.

The company said on its website that it delivered 405,278 of its namesake vehicles to customers worldwide in the quarter that ended on Dec. 31, up 47% from a year ago. But that was short of the 418,000 units expected, based on the average of analyst estimates. Full-year deliveries totaled 1.31 million units, up from just under 1 million in 2021.

During the fourth quarter, production in China, the biggest source of profit for the Austin, Texas-based company, faced challenges from the country’s shifting policy on Covid-19, swinging from strict efforts to control its spread to a more hands-off approach by year’s end. That’s also impacted the broader economy, leading to a slowdown in domestic EV demand though exports of battery-powered vehicles from China remain robust.

“Lot of moving parts but overall would call this better than worst-case fears (above 400k) in a jittery macro” environment, Dan Ives, an equity analyst for Wedbush Securities, tweeted. “While bulls will not be super happy we believe this was a relatively good performance in a tough backdrop.”

The outlook for Tesla heading into 2023 is uncertain, given ongoing concerns that Musk’s fixation on Twitter—and substantial sales of Tesla stock—have left the company without focused leadership as competition in the EV space accelerates. Ives, a longtime Tesla bull, called for Musk to name a new CEO of Twitter by the end of January and set more conservative annual growth targets for the company of about 35% rather than reiterating a general target of 50% per year.

The weaker-than-expected quarterly delivery figure came after Tesla for the first time offered discounts on its vehicles of as much as $7,500 for U.S. and Canadian customers, according to media reports. It also reduced prices in China.

The company didn’t provide details about the demand for its electric vehicles by global region, so it’s impossible to tell from Monday’s release where sales are most robust and where they’re slowing. Tesla said it will release quarterly financial results on Jan. 25.

Combined deliveries of Model 3 sedans and Model Y hatchbacks were 388,131 vehicles in the fourth quarter, while high-end Model S and Model X vehicles, priced from over $100,000, totaled 17,147 units. Tesla said it built 439,701 EVs during the quarter and 1.37 million last year.

The company’s shares plunged 69% in 2022, ending the year at $123.18 on Dec. 30. U.S. stock exchanges are closed on Jan. 2 in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

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