Building on its company-best year in 2020, in which it delivered 499,550 electric vehicles and turned an annual profit for the first time, Tesla has delivered 184,800 vehicles in Q1 2021. The vast majority of the deliveries were Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs. Tesla built 180,330 of these two models and delivered 182,780 of them.
Tesla appears to have paused manufacturing of Model S and Model X vehicles in Q1, likely due to plans to refresh the look of these two models. Deliveries of Model S and Model X totaled only 2,020. The low numbers of these two vehicles was likely the drag that caused Tesla to fall short of expected deliveries in Q1.
The automaker does say that it completed installation of new equipment to manufacture the Model S and Model X and is already in early stages of ramping up production of the refreshed versions of these models.
Even with the lackluster delivery figures for the Model S and Model X, Tesla has more than doubled the number of deliveries in a single quarter since Q1 2020, in which it delivered 88,000 vehicles. The increase in deliveries is especially impressive considering the slowdown caused by the response to COVID-19.
The pandemic caused a pause in production at some facilities in the United States. Tesla was forced to temporarily close its Gigafactory in Pasadena, California, last year. The closure led to a dramatic fight between CEO Elon Musk and California’s state and county officials that caused the state to deem the Gigafactory an essential business, but also led to Musk departing California in favor of Texas and selling some of his Bel-Air properties to a developer.
At the time, Musk blamed California’s overly heavy-handed, authoritarian response to the pandemic and, later, predicted that Austin, Texas, would become the United States’ next boom town. Musk seems to be helping that “boom town” prediction along by announcing plans to build a new manufacturing facility for SpaceX’s Starlink satellites near Austin. Tesla also plans to add as many as 10,000 jobs in the Austin area by the time its newest manufacturing facility is ready to begin operations in Q4 2020. In a bid to attract qualified employees for SpaceX in the wake of the recent losses of Starship prototypes, Elon Musk announced $30 million in donations for community improvement projects in the Brownsville, Texas, area.
Production was also briefly paused at Gigafactory Shanghai due to COVID-19, but the Gigafactory now seems to be busy pumping out the Model Y, which the company says has gotten a “strong reception” in China despite recent restrictions on the use of Tesla vehicles at Chinese government facilities. Recent unconfirmed reports that Tesla has leased additional land near the Gigafactory indicates that it intends to ramp up production even further to meet increasing demand for its electric vehicles in the Asian market.
Competing models made by other automakers notably did considerably less well than the Model 3 and Model Y. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is meant to be a rival to the Model 3, turned out only 9,025 deliveries in the United States in Q1.
Tesla plans to release its earning reports in the coming weeks, likely in conjunction with an earnings call with shareholders in which Elon Musk is likely to drop tantalizing hints about upcoming developments in its vehicles and Full Self-Driving software.