Tesla Just Built Its One-Millionth Car

It’s a red Model Y.

byRob Stumpf|
Electric Vehicles photo

More than 12 years after the delivery of the first Tesla Roadster, the American automaker has built its one-millionth car. Tesla CEO Elon Musk broke the news late Monday evening in a congratulatory tweet, sharing a photo of the car in question, red Tesla Model Y, and a group photo of the team responsible for building the vehicles.

One million cars is a huge accomplishment. Despite it taking 17 years from its inception in 2003 to complete the task, Tesla has shown that its innovation for electric automobiles is enough to attract buyers from around the globe to a battery-powered platform that was all but ignored in the face of traditional combustion engines. With its Model 3 production in full-swing and Tesla's newly minted Model Y beginning to roll off of the assembly line, Tesla's second-millionth car is likely to come significantly quicker than its first.

The production acceleration can largely be attributed to the automaker's increased capacity across its manufacturing sites. Last year, Tesla completed the construction of its third production facility, Gigafactory Shanghai, where it produces built-in-China Model 3s and (eventually) Model Ys. Tesla is also actively working to build a fourth location in Berlin.

Tesla says that as of January 2020, its production capacity for the Model 3 and Y stands at around 400,000 annual units in Fremont and will increase 25 percent by mid-2020. Shanghai has a build capacity of 150,000 Model 3s and is working to build out its local Model Y program to "at least" meet the production capacity of the Model 3. Tesla's hotly anticipated Cybertruck is also slated for production beginning next year.

If Tesla can max-out capacity of its sites and sell each vehicle, it could easily reach the 2-million mark by the end of 2021, but that's a rather ambitious goal. Still, this is a drop in the bucket compared to more seasoned automakers like Toyota and Volkswagen which each produces more than 10 million vehicles annually. Perhaps Tesla's recent Wall Street bull run reflects investor's forward-looking visions into the company's ability to compete with the likes of larger brands.

It would be interesting to see the breakdown of each Tesla model to understand the take-rate on each particular vehicle, however, that hasn't been released at this time and Tesla has historically grouped its Model S and Model X into one figure within its quarterly sales reports. Musk has previously indicated that Tesla continues to build its high-end offerings purely for "sentimental reasons," meaning that its real bread and butter is the more affordable Model 3.

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