Ever since Q2 2013, U.S. deliveries for the Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model S have looked like they have peaked. This was confirmed by stagnated U.S. deliveries, Tesla stopping to issue order reports, VIN deceleration and the fact that Tesla projections for future overall deliveries were consistent with continued stagnated U.S. deliveries.
This remains true even today, after Tesla increased its projected deliveries for Q4 2013 to 6900 vehicles. After all, you just need 1900 of those to be foreign, for the U.S. deliveries to continue at or below their previous peaks.
Up to this point, the story has always been that Tesla is production-constrained, that it is willingly shifting cars to Europe and whatnot. This ignores the fact that Tesla spent almost an entire year with nearly unchanged production capacity even though it was expanding to several foreign marketplaces. Indeed, even making that foreign expansion if there was not enough production capacity seems weird.
A new piece of data
Yesterday, however, we got yet another bit of data that confirms that demand has peaked, regionally. I am talking about the largest U.S. market, California. Fortunately, we get data for California registrations per vehicle even if Tesla doesn't provide it. And this is how the numbers look like (Source: California New Car Dealers Association, I, II, III):
Q1 2013: 2406
Q2 2013: 2308
Q3 2013: 1840
Q4 2013: 1793
So there you have it again, in the very largest U.S. market the trend is unmistakably down! As California goes, so does the U.S., except for a single factor: expansion to new markets within the U.S.
And for overall sales, even now, we can already say the same. Overall Tesla sales are only growing because Tesla is expanding to more and more markets. Europe, China, etc. While this is bound to continue, we are getting more and more evidence that the first served market, the U.S., peaked quite early. And the same is bound to happen in Europe within a few quarters.
If Tesla was a retailer, what we would be seeing would be "same-store sales" dropping for the earlier stores, and overall sales only growing because of store expansion. This would hardly be seen as positive for sure. This doesn't look like the explosive organic growth story people are believing in when they push Tesla towards $200. I don't think the stock discounts peaked U.S. (or California) deliveries at this point.
Further data regarding California deliveries continues to confirm the thesis that U.S. deliveries for the Model S have stagnated and are now heading down. Tesla's massive valuation is not consistent with such an early slowdown, and its growth is now only apparent from opening up new markets.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.