Tesla Q4 2020 Vehicle Production & Deliveries

Updated: Jan 4

Tesla has released the last quarter Delivery and Production Press Release on a Saturday for the first time, and it's caught many of us off-guard! Though what makes up for it are the numbers buried within. Tesla employees and customers managed to rally in the closing days of 2020 and succeeded in producing ( and delivering ) something extraordinary

Tesla's growth last year has been astounding, after a bumpy start from a certain 'extenuating circumstance' followed by a few factory shutdowns, there were reservations for how well the company would do last year

Yet, here we are in the wake of 2021 staring at an achievement doubted by many in the financial sectors

Quater four of the fiscal year has been consistently strong for Tesla, 2020 bared no difference to the trend, in fact, it surpassed all previous quaters

Now it's time to offer conjecture on the figures reported while moving into a new and exciting decade

We'll cover the numbers quickly and then attempt to bring it full circle by analysing how Tesla did in response to expectations by 'The Banks', the Tesla Community and Elon Musk himself!

Beginning with Q4...

For the Quater (Q4)

What a blow-out finale quarter this was! You know a Tesla warcry when Elon heads to Twitter and echos a sense urgency followed by an incentive. Preempted of course with a big-old-fashioned round of applause!

Whether these generous tweets help or not I guess we can't really know ( I'd assume they would - in part, it's a pretty enticing deal if you have the money there ready to go )

Nevertheless, here's the Q4 bottom line for production and delivery numbers

For those aware of any predictions made by particular individuals or groups, the >180,000 deliveries may give you a bit of a tingle

Wall Street predicted a...reasonably close, 176,000 vehicles to be delivered, Tesla...overachieved by roughly 2.6% or 4,570 vehicles, pretty impressive!

There exist a handful of alternative predictions that didn't even come close to these numbers, generally speaking, the hopes for a successful quarter were faded by the assumed pains of the pandemic

But, for a better way of seeing their progression this quarter, we can refer to Hypercharts which is a fantastic way to visualise the performance of a whole bunch of companies - be sure to check them out!

A few things are clear from this, of course, we have the most vehicles delivered in a quarter so far but we also can see the breakdown of which vehicles are being snapped up by the consumer!

Every model experienced higher demand than the previous quarter, so no vehicle has decreased in popularity at all in relation to Q3

Model 3 and Model Y are the more affordable vehicles, so naturally, you'd expect their numbers to be higher - and they are!

These models enjoyed an additional boost thanks to a few generous price cuts over the recent months, so comparing to Q3 suggests that people appreciate a new opportunity to buy and send in those orders!

We can now see why Elon was so keen to rally the Giga-troops, he knew the expected figures could be exceeded and he felt a responsibility to over-deliver, good for him

But there's another incentive Elon would have had a back of his mind and it stems back to a comment he made a few years ago, as far back as 2014...

For the Year (2020)

2020 was important for two reasons. Firstly, it presented itself as a reliance test for Tesla, but also it held a bit of a personal significance

Back in 2014 whilst being interviewed with FOX Business, Elon made something of a prediction to how well Tesla would be doing by the end of 2020

He measured this by the number of vehicles Tesla could produce, the figure he came up with, was 500,000

Here we sit in 2021 looking back at the performance up to the bitter end of 2020, and we acknowledge a figure that is astoundingly close to Musk's estimate, it beats it!

If you've followed Tesla for a while, you'd know the sheer amount of doubt the company and Elon have experienced. Yet, the momentum hasn't stumbled in light of the harshest entrepreneurial conditions it could have ever endured - the 2008 crash and Covid-19 pandemic

Below is a bottom line on the 2020 vehicles delivered, a visible increase on the previous year and of course showing the interest of the relatively new Model Y!

Clearly, the Model 3 - as the current most affordable vehicle, sits as the winner out of the fleet, but we'd expect this

What this does point toward to though, is the possible impact of introducing the Tesla 'Model 2' which was hinted by Elon to make an appearance in 2023-2024

It's almost certain that the new 'more affordable' vehicle will take over as the hottest of the bunch, of course, that depends on how compelling Tesla makes the vehicle. On Battery Day, Elon revealed that the Model 2 would be capable of FSD, though this will available as an additional feature at purchase or as an FSD subscription service yet to be revealed

Though the annual delivery count came in at an impressive 499,550, this does lend a kind of 'phycological doubt' that Tesla did not achieve their aim - albeit not being the actual aim set in 2014 (as we can see from the quotes below)

I mean psychological doubt because to some, not quite having that 'cool half mil' may trigger a feeling and cause a slight short term reaction in regard to the stock, but I'd say its nothing to be concerned about

Also, while we're on the accuracy of the numbers, Tesla also noted something in their press release:

Our delivery count should be viewed as slightly conservative, as we only count a car as delivered if it is transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct. Final numbers could vary by up to 0.5% or more.

So actually, we could see an increase of 0.5% or higher, getting us even more excruciatingly close to the 'crisp' half million

Nevertheless, we are in the reception of an enormous achievement for everyone involved. Though we need to account for the pandemic, which was obviously damaging, but not 'game over'

The Pandemic Shutdowns

I hate that I have to talk about this, but it does factor in

Tesla's Freemont Gigafactory experienced a roughly 3-week shutdown at the beginning of the year which probably cost Tesla about a 10,000 vehicle production capability, probably more!

Additionally, the Shanghai factory experienced a short shutdown period but quickly came back online

Accounting for these shutdowns, Tesla was able to produce just under 10,000 vehicles per week (this is just a flat average, actual production numbers increased in the latter half of the year)

Comparing Expectations

Coming full circle then, let's check in on the predictions from three groups in particular

The Banks

Also referred to as wall street generally, they have had a history of overly pessimistic predictions with regard to earnings, production and deliveries

This time around, one of their higher predictions was actually a very fair assessment - it clocked in pretty close to the actual report!

Though there were many other predictions by individuals who held firm in their underwhelming positions, it's also these individuals/group's that consistently seem to fall short of the reported numbers

This being said, Tesla has been gaining a more 'positive' outlook by the financial sector over recent years and thanks to the companies reputation and output, these analysts may begin to assess Tesla's future very differently in the coming years

Tesla Community

Of course, this group will offer the most 'bearish' and positive predictions - but they are done so on the back of impressive research!

The community has come together in a way that no other 'automotive' community has done before. Even to the point where if a person has taken delivery of a Tesla vehicle there exists a spreadsheet online to where each delivery is accumulated to give an estimate on the very production and delivery report we see above

It's efforts like this that show a real following for the company, a similar sheet has been created to show Cybertruck orders and they number over 650,000!

With regard to Q4, the community expected it to mimic the fourth quarters of previous years - i.e the best performing

Tesla even offered those who had ordered a Tesla to receive delivery of their vehicles as late as 11 pm on the last day of Q4, just to bump up those delivery numbers

Was the community annoyed or discouraged by this? - No, they were incredibly excited to leap out of their bed, sprint outside and grab those keys! (or keycard rather)

Predictions for deliveries usually came in over 500k and production closer to 510k if not more (from tesla community posts, youtube videos, groups and threads)

Overall, this group, in particular, will be very happy with the news!


Now finally, Let's head back to Elon's interview by Fox Business in 2014 and see what 'bar' he actually set for 2020, the following are word-for-word quotes from the interview:

Elon was asked:

' What can we eventually expect when it comes to ramping up, with the Gigafactory in place, the number of Tesla's that you push off the assembly line?'

In other words, he's being asked about how many cars can be produced or 'pushed off the assembly line'.

He replies:

' Well I mean, I feel... comfortbale that we'll be able to achieve at least a half a million cars a year by 2020 '

Elon clearly said that he expects Tesla to be capable of achieving 500k cars PER YEAR by 2020, which would mean that recent production and delivery report is a fantastic success!

Production numbers or 'cars pushed off the assembly line' totalled 509,737, passing this very prediction

The delivery numbers were close but achieving the clean 500k value would have offered an 'emotional' feel-good threshold. Regardless, it appears Elon was pretty bang-on with his 'at least a half a million' prediction!

Though note, he did say 'per year'. So what he's done here is actually predict a recurring minimum from 2020 onward - though let's be honest, last year featured awful conditions for an ambition such as this

With the introduction of new models and multiple Gigafactories at increased production, the fruits of 2021 and beyond should be forever sweeter

This, we can hope!

Thanks for reading


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