Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) set a record for deliveries and production in the first quarter of its fiscal year. Global deliveries were 69 percent better than in the first quarter of 2016, the company said. The electric car maker shipped more than 25,000 vehicles in the first three months of the year, beating analysts’ average forecast of 24,200 vehicles shipped in the quarter. Actual production in the first three months was 25,418.
Tesla said it delivered about 13,450 Model S sedans and 11,550 Model X sport utility vehicles in the quarter. The results were in line with the guidance given to shareholders earlier this year. The delivery figure is a preliminary number that may vary by 0.5 percent when the company reports earnings for the quarter in May.
In the fourth quarter, deliveries had fallen 9.4 percent due to short-term production hurdles. About 2,750 vehicles missed being counted as deliveries in that quarter due to customers being unable to physically take delivery and last-minute delays in transport. The delivery count only includes a car if it’s transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct.
The results herald a strong start to a year that will be make-or-break for the electric car maker. The company will begin building its first high-volume, lower-priced vehicle, the Model 3, in July. The Model 3 is expected to begin at $35,000 before incentives and options. The new sedan already has a waiting list of about 400,000 people who paid a $1,000 reservation fee.
The company has also announced a target of delivering as many as 50,000 vehicles in the first half of this year. Reaching its production goal hinges on battery-cell production at its Gigafactory, located east of Reno, Nevada. The Gigafactory will produce the lithium-ion cells needed for both vehicle battery packs and stationary power storage units that will be paired with SolarCity solar panels. Tesla is still completing the sprawling $5 billion battery plant.
The company also announced that it is discontinuing its low-end Model S with the 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack on April 17. That would make its 75-kilowatt-hour Model S its cheapest car, at $74,500, until the Model 3’s introduction. Tesla currently has a market value of about $45.4 billion, just $870 million less than the market value of Ford Motor Co. Investors have pushed up Tesla shares 30 percent this year.