Tesla delivers record vehicles in Q1; output falls as China shutdown weighs

A Model Y Tesla car is on display at the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022.

Tesla Inc. on Saturday reported record electric vehicle deliveries for the first quarter, largely meeting analysts’ estimates, but production fell from the previous quarter as supply chain disruptions and a China plant suspension weighed.

“This was an *exceptionally* difficult quarter due to supply chain interruptions & China zero Covid policy,” Chief Executive Elon Musk tweeted. “Outstanding work by Tesla team & key suppliers saved the day.”

Tesla delivered 310,048 vehicles in the quarter, a slight increase from the previous quarter, and up 68% from a year earlier. Wall Street had expected deliveries of 308,836 cars, according to Refinitiv data.

Tesla produced 305,407 vehicles from January to March, down from 305,840 the previous quarter.

Tesla, the world’s most valuable automaker, has navigated the pandemic and supply chain disruptions better than rivals and its new Shanghai factory has been driving growth.

But a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in China has forced Tesla to temporarily suspend production at the Shanghai factory for several days in March and April as the city locks down to test residents for the disease.

The deliveries were “better than feared given supply chain issues,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush, in a report.

Tesla said it sold a total of 295,324 Model 3 sedans and Model Y sport utility vehicles, while it delivered 14,724 Model S luxury sedans and Model X premium SUVs.

Rocketing prices

Skyrocketing gas prices spurred by the Ukraine crisis is expected to fuel demand for electric cars, but lack of inventory and higher vehicle prices would weigh on sales, analysts said.

Tesla in March raised prices in China and the United States after Musk said the U.S. electric carmaker was facing significant inflationary pressure in raw materials and logistics after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Impressive [deliveries] given all the headwinds,” Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, said, adding he expected Tesla to continue outperforming other automakers in sales growth.

Toyota and GM, Hyundai Motor on Friday reported lower first-quarter U.S. sales than a year earlier.

Musk said in October that Shanghai had surpassed its Fremont, California factory — the company’s first plant — in output. The two factories are critical for Tesla’s goal to boost deliveries by 50% this year, as production at its new factories are expected to ramp up slowly in their first year.

Tesla started delivering vehicles made at its factory in Gruenheide, Germany, in March and deliveries of cars made at its plant in Austin, Texas, were to begin in the near future.

The company’s stock soared after Tesla this week revealed plans to seek investor approval to increase its number of shares to enable a stock split. Tesla shares have risen about 3% so far this year, while GM and Ford shares have declined.