Tesla Claims Most Productive Quarter in Its History

The automaker is now producing 2,000 Model 3s per week.

After a week that included a major recall and a fatal Autopilot-related crash, Tesla was finally able to share some good news in the form of a robust first quarter in 2018 production and delivery figures. The automaker said it built 34,494 electric cars in its first quarter, making it the most productive quarter in Tesla history.

That production total included 24,728 Model S and Model X vehicles, and 9,766 Model 3s. In a press release, Tesla said Model 3 production increased fourfold over the previous quarter. In grandiose language, the company said it had achieved "the fastest growth of any automotive company in the modern era," and that if this rate of growth continues, it will exceed the ramp up of Ford Model T production in speed.

Tesla has more immediate concerns, though. The company has set a goal of building 5,000 cars per week by the end of the second quarter, as a prelude to annual production of 500,000 cars. The Model 3 is expected to account for the bulk of that production, but Tesla has also experienced issues in ramping up production of the mass-market electric car.

Tesla said in built 2,020 Model 3s in the past seven days, and expects to produce 2,000 more over the next seven days, as well as 2,000 Model S and Model X units combined. The company claims it took five years to achieve this rate of production with the Model S and Model X, but only nine months with the Model 3.

Not every car that rolls off the assembly line is immediately delivered to a customer. Tesla delivered 29,980 cars in its first quarter, including 11,370 Model S sedans, 10,070 Model Xs, and 8,180 Model 3s. The company said 4,060 Model S and Model X vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the first quarter (a 68-percent increase over its fourth quarter in 2017), along with 2,040 Model 3s. These vehicles will be counted toward Tesla's second quarter delivery totals. Among customers who have received a Model 3, Tesla said satisfaction is very high, and that the number of reservations has remained stable despite the long wait some customers are experiencing.

Tesla noted that its delivery figures are "slightly conservative," and that it only considers a vehicle to be delivered once the car is transferred to a customer and all paperwork is complete. The company also emphasized that deliveries "should not be relied on as an indicator of quarterly financial results." Based on anticipated production growth, Tesla said it does not need to raise more capital or increase its debt at this time.

Considering the amount of bad press Tesla has gotten over the past few days, this relatively sunny production report is well timed. But Tesla needs to keep its eye on the prize and continue ramping up Model 3 production over the next few months.