Tesla hails Chinese demand for record deliveries

Tesla announces record first-quarter deliveries on the back of Chinese demand for its Model Y electric sedans as sales of cheaper products make up for high-end slowdown

Tesla hails Chinese demand for record deliveries
Chinese demand for Tesla's Model Y electric vehicle sedans helped drive a record first-quarter for deliveries. File picture: Reuters.

(ATF) Tesla announced record deliveries for the first quarter and hailed Chinese demand for its Model Y electric vehicle (EV), as sales of less expensive models offset the impact of lower volume in high-end models and a global shortage of parts.

“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,” Tesla said in a statement ahead of the release of full first-quarter financial data.

Tesla’s Shanghai factory started production of the Model Y last year, where it already produces Model 3 sedans. In February, Tesla’s China sales jumped from the previous month, bucking the usual trend for a fall in demand during China’s Lunar New Year holidays. China is the biggest global EV market and is crucial for sales growth for both new and traditional automakers.

In February, Tesla suspended activity in its main California plant for two days due to “parts shortages.” The firm plans to add new factories in Texas and Germany this year.

Tesla delivered 182,780 Model 3/Ys in the first quarter, up 13% from the previous quarter. In contrast, deliveries of more expensive S/Xs slumped from 18,920 to 2,020 during the period, ahead of model refreshes.

Among rival automakers General Motors (GM) last Thursday reported a rebound in first-quarter US sales from a coronavirus-induced slump last year, but volumes were capped by a global chip scarcity that forced GM and other companies to cut production.

Most valuable

Tesla has become the most valuable auto company in the world by far, despite production that is a fraction of rivals such as Toyota, Volkswagen and GM.

Tesla's shares are down 6% this year, after a 700% rise in 2020, but the encouraging delivery data for the first quarter - and the strength of Chinese demand - could boost its stock price this week.

Separately, on Friday April 2 Tesla filed an appeal against a US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that it had violated US labour law, and the agency’s order that CEO Elon Musk delete an old tweet from its account.

Tesla asked an appeals court to review the order and grant Tesla “any further relief which the Court deems just and equitable.”

Last month, the NRLB ordered Tesla to direct Musk to delete an old tweet from 2018 and to post a notice addressing the unlawful tweet at all of its facilities nationwide and include language that says “WE WILL take appropriate steps to ensure Musk complies with our directive.”

In the 2018 tweet, Musk wrote: “Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare.”

The NLRB also directed Tesla to offer one former employee reinstatement as well as to rescind 2017 rules that prohibited distributing union literature in its parking lots on non-work time and rules that barred distributing union stickers, leaflets, and pamphlets without first obtaining permission.

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