In typical fashion, Elon Musk earlier this year enthusiastically boasted that the mass market Model 3 wouldn’t be subject to the type of frustrating production delays that plagued both the Model S and the Model X. What’s more, Musk went the extra mile and said that Model 3 production would reach 5,000 a week by December of 2017, a benchmark Tesla didn’t even come close to reaching.
In fact, Tesla in its last earnings report revealed that it only produced 260 Model 3 units during the third quarter, a figure far below Musk’s initial quarterly projection of 1,500 units. At the time, Musk conceded that Tesla was busy addressing a few Model 3 bottleneck issues and that the company was trying to get out of “production hell.” Since then, it appears that production has improved dramatically, with Tesla now claiming that it should be able to manufacture 5,000 Model 3 vehicles a week by the end of March 2018.
With Tesla poised to post its earnings report for the holiday quarter later today, we won’t have to wait long to see how overall Model 3 production stacked up in 2017. In the interim, a new report from Electrek relays that Model 3 VINs point to Tesla producing upwards of 2000 Model 3 units in 2017, which is to say Model 3 production may have shot up from 260 last quarter to about 1,740 during the most recent quarter.
Those VINs are interesting for two reasons. First off, it looks like VINs up to ~3,000 were registered in 2017 and considering that Tesla skips VINs for some reasons, I think we can roughly estimate it could indicate that the automaker could have produced just over 2,000 Model 3 vehicles in 2017.
Meanwhile, analyst Gene Munster projects that Model 3 production for the year likely falls in the 2,500 range. While the estimates above — if accurate — are still a far cry from Tesla’s early production goals, it at the very least demonstrates that manufacturing issues are being addressed slowly but surely. Looking ahead, Munster believes that Tesla may be able to boost Model 3 production in 2018 to 150,000 units.
Tesla Model 3 production ramps from 2,500 in 2017 to greater than 150,000 in 2018. Near term, we expect another miss in Model 3 production, but in 2018 we predict production will turn the corner. We continue to stress that Model 3 production over the next several quarters will be largely a guessing game and that short-term production numbers do not materially affect the long-term story. The last update on Model 3 production calls for “a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by late Q1 2018,” which we believe is ambitious. That said, we’re encouraged by hundreds of Model 3s have been spotted at delivery centers and at the Fremont factory shown in a video here, along with several suppliers reporting that they are back to delivering Model 3 parts at volume.
Suffice it to say, tomorrow’s earnings report and accompanying conference call will be extremely illuminating as investors will be keeping a close eye on Model 3 production and deliveries.
Update: Tesla’s earnings report is out and the company manufactured 2,425 Model 3 units for the quarter, good enough for about 2716 for the year.