Commentary

Tesla Sets Another Quarterly Sales Record -- But Wall St. Is Not Impressed

Tesla announced a new quarterly sales record yesterday that fell a few thousand vehicles short of the mark most analysts had been anticipating, and the company’s stock took a hit in after-hours trading.

“The Palo Alto, California-based company delivered 97,000 cars in the three months ending in September, topping a previous all-time high hit during the quarter prior. This comprised 79,600 deliveries for Tesla’s biggest-selling Model 3 sedans, as well as 17,400 combined deliveries for Tesla’s Model S and Model X SUVs. That compares to 87,048 Tesla produced in the second quarter,” Emily McCormick reports for Yahoo Finance.

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“Ahead of results, Wall Street analysts were largely anticipating between 95,000 to 100,000 deliveries for the quarter. Shares of Tesla fell more than 5% after hours as of 4:56 p.m. ET, reflecting investors’ disappointment that production failed to clear the top range of estimates,” McCormick adds.

“Tesla has been ramping up production as it attempts to transition from a niche electric-car maker to a mass producer. The company now has two consecutive quarters of record deliveries after a slow start to the year,” Heather Somerville writes for The Wall Street Journal.

“But the electric-car maker still is at least 104,800 deliveries short of reaching the low end of its full-year projection of 360,000-to-400,000 cars into customers’ hands by the end of 2019. Meeting that goal comes with other challenges. Tesla has to contend with the elimination of a federal tax credit to its customers, which could weigh on demand,” Somerville adds.

Tesla’s delivery of Model 3 sedans increased 2.6% from the second quarter. “But deliveries of its larger, more established offerings -- the Model S and the Model X -- totaled 17,400, a decline of 250. Analysts say that is a problem for Tesla, since those vehicles often sell for $90,000 and produce far more profit than the Model 3, which sells for as little as $39,000,” Neal E. Boudette writes for The New York Times.

“Jeffrey Osborne of Cowen & Company said in a recent note to clients that unless Tesla cut costs enough to make money on the least expensive version of the Model 3, ‘margins are likely to continue to be under pressure and we don’t see sustainable profitability in the near to midterm.’ He added that Cowen saw ‘a lot more that can go wrong than can go right,’” Boudette adds.

It certainly was trying, in a supercharged way, to get those quarterlies past the 100G mark.

“Tesla started pushing out its much-anticipated Software Version 10, or V10, to owners last week…,” Bengt Halvorson writes  for Green Car Reports.

“Promotional e-mails obtained by Green Car Reports invited shoppers to learn about the benefits of taking delivery before October 1. Bonus offers extended to some sources -- conditions not verified -- included unlimited free Supercharging for two years, and promotions relating to the rollout of V10.  Tesla called V10 ‘our biggest software update ever’ -- perhaps partly because it’s one that includes fundamental and long-anticipated updates to its entertainment interface,” Halvorson continues.

V10 also includes “Smart Summon -- a remote control-like function that allows owners to use their smart phones to direct their vehicles to back out of parking spaces and navigate very short distances to come pick them up,” Sean Szymkowski writes  for CNET’s Road Show.  

“But there's an important caveat to using this new system that a lot of people seem to be ignoring: Simply put, Smart Summon is NOT for use in public spaces. Tesla has clearly stated that’s not what the darn thing is designed for,” Szymkowski cautions. 

“Of course, as social media readily shows, Tesla owners are already attempting to push Smart Summon’s intelligence and usage boundaries. These instances range from ‘Wow, close call’ to ‘filing an insurance claim.’ There have been issues with parked cars, failing to determine where the pavement ends and the grass begins, and so on.”

There’s also an issue with “the way Tesla says the feature should be used, and how people are actually using it,” as Cherlynn Low points out in this video for Engadget

Misuse of technology?  Who’da thunk it?

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