Tesla's Electric Vehicle Production: Did It Follow My Guidance Until 2016, Will It Do So Thereafter?

Aug.14.14 | About: Tesla Motors (TSLA)

Summary

In a previous work, I broke down (year-by-year beginning 2014) Tesla's half a million EV figure by 2020.

As it turned out, my numbers were found to be quite close to Tesla's own forecasts until 2016, which leads me to conclude that it had tracked my advice.

It remains to be seen, though, whether Tesla will follow my guidance during 2017-2020 as well.

In a previous article published long before Tesla's official announcement that by 2020 it would produce half a million electric cars, I broke down this number as follows:

Tesla's Estimated Production of Electric Vehicles

(Source: My own calculations)

Overall, my numbers turned out to be quite close to Tesla's own forecasts up to 2016. In effect, as part of its fourth-quarter & full-year 2013 shareholder letter made public in February 2014, Tesla suggested producing 35,000 Model S cars in 2014, whereas in a recent Reuters report, it was known that it plans to produce more than 60,000 cars in 2015, and in Tesla's second-quarter 2014 shareholder letter released on July 31, 2014, Elon Musk stated that by the end of 2015 (and hence the beginning of 2016), Tesla will be capable of producing more than 100,000 cars. These figures resemble mine, with the following exceptions.

First, for 2014, I suggested only 31,500 Model S's and 3,286 Model X's, totaling 34,786 electric vehicles (EVs). As of now, my forecast for the Model S seems a bit lower than expected by Tesla considering its results for the first half of the year, while my estimation of the Model X appears over-optimistic. For one thing, however, chances are production of the Model S will diminish somewhat in the rest of the year due to a temporary closing of the Fremont plant in California a few days back in preparation for a larger production to take place upon the arrival of the Model X. For another, Tesla has announced that in a few days, it will present its first beta prototypes of the Model X, which seems to have already accumulated over 18,000 pre-orders, and given the excitement about the giga-plant following the agreement with Panasonic, I wouldn't discard a surprise on the part of Tesla with some Model X's put into production towards the end of this year.

Second, I also stick with my prediction for 2015 for both types of cars, not only because I'm convinced that the Model X will bring a lot of hype to the market and potential buyers will prefer it over the Model X, particularly in the first months after its introduction, but also because I'm pretty certain that Tesla will at first price the car at a similar level to that of the Model S to attract more potential buyers of the car to actually buy it. That's why I believe one-third of Tesla's production in 2015 is likely to be comprised of Model X cars.

Third, this pricing strategy will probably last until 2016, leading Tesla to doubling the volume of production of its Model X's while approaching the production of the Model S that year. Nonetheless, for financial reasons, Tesla will since be forced to modify its pricing strategy with respect to its Model X a little bit upwards, which will, in turn, conduct to much lower production growth rates for this type of cars beginning 2017. In addition, as shown in Table 1, I foresaw a new dynamic factor in my estimations, with the first 10,000 Model III's (previously called Model E's) to be introduced towards the end of 2016 in anticipation for a more massive production starting in 2017. Though this will only be possible with the initial operation of the giga-plant, as by then, all the 2 billion Li-ion cells committed by Panasonic to be produced in Japan will be exhausted.

Hence it does appear that, to a great extent, Tesla followed my guidance until 2016!

As for the last sub-period 2017-2020, for which Tesla has not yet advanced estimates, I suggested rather moderate growth rates ranging between 15 %and 30% for the Model S and between 10 and 25% for the Model X, whereas the Model III's figures are likely to quadruple in 2017 and double thereafter. Time will tell whether Tesla tracks my advice in this case as well.

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.