Tesla's streak of record deliveries may end in Q2 after China plant shutdown

The EV maker handed over more than 310,000 vehicles in the first three months of the year

The Tesla factory in Fremont, California. Deliveries are one of the most closely-watched metrics at the company. Reuters
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Tesla is expected to announce quarterly production and delivery figures this weekend that are likely to be among the worst of the year — and break its multi-quarter streak of record-setting results — due largely to an extended shutdown of its factory in Shanghai.

The electric vehicle maker may have delivered more than 261,000 vehicles globally during the three months ended in June, according to nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, ending a two-year stretch of consecutive quarterly gains.

Tesla handed over more than 310,000 vehicles in the first three months of the year, more than any previous quarter.

“We cut our second-quarter deliveries estimate by 65,000 to 245,000 units, reflecting a prolonged Covid 19-related shutdown and logistical challenges in the Shanghai factory,” Emmanuel Rosner of Deutsche Bank wrote to clients.

“Recall that during the first-quarter call, CEO Elon Musk had provided directional guidance of sequentially flat deliveries for the quarter but the situation in China worsened subsequently, only improving in early June.”

Shares of Tesla rose 1.2 per cent to close trading on Friday at $681.79.

Deliveries are one of the most closely-watched metrics at Tesla. They underpin the Texas-based company’s financial results and are widely seen as a broad barometer of consumer demand for EVs amid a wider shift away from the internal combustion engine.

Many large car makers announced US sales results on Friday, but Tesla, which reports global totals, hasn’t specified a release date.

Dan Levy, an analyst with Credit Suisse, reduced his delivery estimate for the period to 242,000 units.

“In aggregate, we believe the Shanghai shutdown accounted for about 90,000 units of lost production in the second quarter,” Mr Levy wrote to clients.

Tesla makes the Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles at its plant in Fremont, California. It also produces Models 3 and Y at a factory near Shanghai.

The company has begun delivering the first Model Ys from its new plant near Berlin and held a “Cyber Rodeo” event for 15,000 people in April to celebrate a new factory in Austin.

However, both Berlin and Austin have been slow to increase production, with Mr Musk warning in May that both plants were “gigantic money furnaces”.

Analysts and investors are also worried that the price increases car makers are imposing to combat soaring raw material costs will weigh on demand.

Tesla had boosted its sticker prices by as much as $6,000 a car earlier this month, according to Electrek.

Tesla's factory in Austin, Texas - in pictures

A stronger-than-expected delivery number could provide a boost to Tesla’s stock, which is down more than 35 per cent this year amid wider market concerns about rising energy costs, inflation and a potential recession.

Mr Musk shares many of those concerns and is in the process of laying off 10 per cent of Tesla’s salaried workforce, while pushing others to return to the office.

Earlier this week, Tesla laid off about 200 people on its Autopilot team, mostly hourly employees who worked as data annotation specialists.

Updated: July 02, 2022, 9:20 AM
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