Tesla said Friday that it delivered 184,800 cars in the first quarter of 2021 globally, the vast majority of which were Model Ys and Model 3s. If it keeps up that pace, this year will be Tesla’s best ever — by some margin.
That’s because that is an annualized rate of nearly 740,000 cars, or about a quarter million more deliveries than Tesla made in 2020. And while big delivery numbers don’t automatically mean profits, Tesla has always aspired to be a volume carmaker as opposed to just a niche luxury one. Getting closer and closer to the one million mark is another step in that progression.
For context, Tesla is still pretty small compared with other American automakers. GM sold 6.8 million cars worldwide last year, over 13 times Tesla’s number. Still, Tesla’s first quarter number this year was good for more than double what it was last year.
“We are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity,” the company said in a statement. “The new Model S and Model X have also been exceptionally well received, with the new equipment installed and tested in Q1, and we are in the early stages of ramping production.”
Tesla delivered just 2,020 units of the Model S and Model X in the first quarter, but it did not say how many of each it built, presumably because of the model updates. That’s compared with Model S and X production of 16,097 in the fourth quarter and deliveries of 18,920 in that time period. All of which suggests that in the second quarter of this year we could see Model S and Model X deliveries and production bounce back in a big way. Even so, for the first quarter, Model Y and Model 3 deliveries more than made up the gap, totaling 182,780.
Tesla does not separate Model Y and Model 3 delivery numbers, nor do they separate Model X and Model S delivery numbers, nor does Tesla say where the sales are coming from. The number is merely a global figure. Still, we can assume that China helped quite a bit the past three months, as Tesla’s Shanghai factory has been up and running for over a year now.
Which augurs well for a company that has finally found its feet. Tesla’s first-quarter earnings will be announced later this month, and while I wonder how much of a hit momentarily pressing pause on Model S and X will be, it also seems likely to be another day of good news in Tesla world. The only real worry for Tesla now is the Cybertruck, due out either late this year or sometime next.
Because: Is the Cybertruck going to be a hit or what?