Tesla first-quarter deliveries drop on challenges shipping Model 3 overseas

Tesla delivered 63,000 of its electric vehicles in the first quarter of the year, nearly a one-third drop from the previous quarter, the company reported late Wednesday. Tesla cautioned that it expects first-quarter profits to be negatively impacted by lower than expected delivery volumes and several pricing adjustments.

Deliveries included about 50,900 Model 3 vehicles and 12,100 Model S and X SUVs.

Tesla said despite the challenges that it “ended the quarter with sufficient cash on hand.”

Tesla blamed the striking difference in numbers on its efforts to increase deliveries of its Model 3 electric car in Europe and China, which was fraught with challenges and caused delays.

“Due to a massive increase in deliveries in Europe and China, which at times exceeded 5x that of prior peak delivery levels, and many challenges encountered for the first time, we had only delivered half of the entire quarter’s numbers by March 21, ten days before end of quarter,” Tesla said in its report. “This caused a large number of vehicle deliveries to shift to the second quarter. At the end of the first quarter, approximately 10,600 vehicles were in transit to customers globally.”

Those numbers appear to be further pressured by a drop in Model S and Model X deliveries. Deliveries of the Model S and X dropped by nearly half compared to the fourth quarter.

Tesla delivered 90,966 vehicles during the fourth quarter. Of those, 27,607 were Model S sedans and Model X SUVs and 63,359 were Model 3s.

The company also produced fewer vehicles than it did in the fourth quarter. The drop was entirely due to lower Model S and X numbers. Back in January, Tesla said it would no longer take orders of its 75 kWh version of the Model S and X, which could explain part of that reduction.

In the first quarter, Tesla produced 77,100 total vehicles, consisting of 62,950 Model 3 and 14,150 Model S and X vehicles. That’s nearly 11 percent lower than the fourth quarter, when Tesla produced 86,555 vehicles — 61,394 of which were Model 3 cars and 25,161 Model S and X vehicles.

In the first quarter, Tesla produced 1,555 more Model 3 cars than in the fourth quarter.

Tesla still stressed that its sales, particularly in North America where it has been available longer, are strong. The company noted that inventory of Model 3 vehicles in North America “remains exceptionally low, reaching about two weeks of supply at the end of Q1, compared to the industry average of 2-3 months.”

Tesla reaffirmed its prior guidance of 360,000 to 400,000 vehicle deliveries in 2019.