Tesla Elon Musk

According to a press release from Tesla, the EV carmaker delivered 184,800 new vehicles from January through March 2021. The first-quarter sales figures are an accomplishment that puts Tesla on pace to sell nearly 750,000 new vehicles this year without accounting for SAAR. All but 2,020 of those units were the Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV.

The delivery pace exceeds that of Tesla’s incredible Q4 2020 performance that delivered 180,570 new vehicles, totaling just shy of a half-million deliveries for the year. Incredibly, their production pace hasn’t been disrupted due to the shortage of microprocessor chips – at least, not to the same extent as other carmakers.

Much of the sales increase is attributed to the Chinese market, although numbers aren’t broken down for where new vehicles were sold. The press release states, “In the first quarter, we produced just over 180,000 vehicles and delivered nearly 185,000 vehicles. We are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity. The new Model S and Model X have also been exceptionally well received, with the new equipment installed and tested in Q1 and we are in the early stages of ramping production.”

It’s a promising start to the year for the most notorious EV maker in the world, and there are several milestones still in the works from Tesla. The polarizing Cybertruck is expected to launch before the calendar year is out, and expansions to their plant in Berlin, Germany and Austin, Texas will add to production capacity once completed.

Tesla also says they will produce a low-cost BEV for the Chinese market that will be around $20,000.

Calm before the storm

An increase in production and visibility is key for Tesla right now as competitors promise their own launches that are expected to challenge for a piece of the EV pie. Particularly aggressive in their plans for EV development in the short term is Volkswagen with the ID.4 model reservations now live for models starting at $40,000. Ford’s Mach-E SUV is also open for pre-orders with deliveries expected late summer. Almost every mainstream carmaker has an EV in the pipeline to be rolled out in the next year or so.

Other EV-only manufacturers that are directly competing for Tesla’s customers are expected to come to market later this year also. Lucid Motors had expected to deliver their first model, the Lucid Air, beginning in spring 2021 but that’s now been pushed back to later in the year. Rivian is on pace to deliver the R1T beginning in June this year.

Can Tesla keep ahead?

The biggest question in the EV space right now is whether Tesla’s head start in the electrified market will be enough to keep them as the industry leader, especially with an average selling price of $49,100 according to FactSet. The lowest-priced model is the Model 3 Standard Range Plus, starting at $37,990 before any rebates or savings. It leaves plenty of room for competitors to get in with competitively priced models, especially for the under-$30,000 market that contains buyers hungry for savings.

One thing that the auto industry can count on are surprises from Elon Musk. Knowing that Tesla is constantly innovating, it will be interesting to see what rumors and news come from the Technoking as the EV market advances this year.

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