Tesla deliveries double, led by Model 3 surge

Tesla delivered 83,500 electric vehicles in the third quarter, more than double from the previous period as the company steered by Elon Musk pulled out all the stops to get its newest sedan, the Model 3, to customers.

The company delivered 55,840 Model 3 sedans, up from 18,440 in the previous quarter, which was in line within its own guidance. The company’s delivery numbers fell just short of the 56,000 deliveries expected by a consensus of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Tesla emphasized in its report Tuesday that thousands of vehicles — 8,048 Model 3 and 3,776 Model S and X vehicles — were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter. The company is standing by its overall target of 100,000 Model S and X deliveries in 2018.

Delivery logistics became the primary pinch point for the company in the third quarter, with customers reporting delays and confusion over how to pick up their new Model 3s. Hundreds of Tesla owners ended up heading down to various Tesla showrooms where Model 3s were being handed over to customers in an effort to help the company meet its goal.

The question raised by several analysts is whether Tesla’s unconventional production and delivery methods are sustainable. Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds manager of industry analysis, noted that Tesla’s production announcement offered some redemption and that “producing 50,000 Model 3s in Q3 is a significant milestone.”

“It’s refreshing to see the company making headlines for producing cars, not controversies,” Acevedo said in a statement. “The real question now is if Tesla can really sustain this pace, particularly in light of the delivery issues the company has faced recently. While Tesla superfans and owners have generously volunteered their time to assist, this isn’t necessarily a sustainable model that Elon can count on moving forward.”

Tesla acknowledged the problems with deliveries and said it plans to make improvements to its system in the fourth quarter. Deliveries to customers’ homes and offices, which began in the third quarter, will be expanded.

Tesla produced more than 80,000 electric vehicles in the third quarter, a 50 percent increase from the previous quarter.

The production and delivery numbers, which were announced early Tuesday, cap off a tumultuous quarter that were plagued by Musk’s controversial “funding secured” tweet. That tweet triggered an SEC investigation and ultimately charges of securities fraud. Musk and Tesla reached a settlement with the SEC on Saturday.

Production breakdown for Q3:

  • Tesla produced 53,239 Model 3 vehicles
  • Tesla produced 26,903 Model S and X vehicles
  • Total: 80,142

Delivery breakdown in Q3:

  • 55,840 Model 3 vehicles
  • 14,470 Model S
  • 13,190 Model X
  • Total: 83,500