Tesla beat its guidance for 2015, but not by much, delivering just over 50,000 vehicles for the year.
Tesla delivered 17,192 Model S cars in the fourth quarter and 208 Model X vehicles. Tesla had ratcheted down its guidance during 2015, leaving some analysts disappointed with the final figures even though they were within the adjusted guidance.
The Model X numbers in particular were a sore spot. Ben Kallo of Baird, for instance, had estimated 1,000 could be delivered in Q4. Baird reiterated its neutral rating for the stock. About 500 Model X vehicles were produced, but more than half of those will be delivered early in the first quarter of this year.
Tesla argued the production rate is deliberate. “Model X deliveries are in line with the very early stages of our Model X production ramp as we prioritize quality above all else,” Khobi Brooklyn, Tesla’s director of global communications, said in a statement.
Manufacturing ramped significantly in the fourth quarter; the production rate is now close to 240 vehicles per week and is expected to grow further. Tesla opened at $230.77 on Monday after closing out 2015 at $240.
There is an increasing number of competitors in Tesla’s rearview mirror, although the company remains the leading electric-vehicle manufacturer in the U.S., according to preliminary 2015 numbers from InsideEVs.
Chinese battery, solar panel and auto manufacturer BYD will trump Tesla's total figures for 2015. BYD sold 50,797 electric vehicles as of the end of November. Sales in October 2015 were more than 200 percent higher than in the same month in 2014.
The Chinese market mostly drives BYD sales, while Tesla’s sales are mostly in the U.S. and Europe. Tesla is one of the most popular electric vehicles in Europe, along with the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, according to AVERE France, the French national electric mobility association.
There was a jump of almost 50 percent in electric-vehicle sales in Europe in 2015, with Norway in the lead by a significant margin, accounting for nearly one-third of all EVs sold in Europe. Electric cars sold in Norway are exempt from a 25 percent sales tax and another hefty registration tax, while also getting a break on many highway tolls.
For Tesla, enthusiasm for the Model S in the Norwegian EV market could be momentarily tempered by a Model S fire on New Year’s Day that turned the sedan into a charred hull in the snow at a Supercharger station. Tesla has said it is undertaking a full investigation into the cause of the fire.