The electric car manufacturer delivered 139,300 vehicles, which was up 43% from the 97,000 in the third quarter last year and ahead of the 134,720 deliveries that had been expected, according to the Wall Street consensus compiled by Refinitiv.
The rise was driven by a significant boost in the mass-market Model 3 and newer Model Y cars, where combined production increased 60% to 128,044 and deliveries were up 56% at 124,100.
Production of Models S and X was 4% higher at 16,992, deliveries fell 13% to 15,200.
Deliveries for the nine months of the year so far of 318,000, with 88,400 in the first and 90,650 in the second quarters, mean that boss Elon Musk still has a tough job in the final quarter to hit his target of 500,000 vehicles.
A third Tesla car plant is being built near Austin, Texas and Musk aims to have Model Y vehicles coming out of this ‘Gigafactory’ by the end of the year and by late next year the new Cybertruck electric pickup.
Tesla shares fell more than 5% to just over US$42 in early trading, with the wider US markets heading lower, but have since cut some of their losses.
William Ryder, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said the full year target looks increasingly plausible.
“This would be a significant achievement for Tesla, as not too long ago we were concerned that the group wouldn’t be able to solve its notorious production problems. What’s more, Tesla has now strung several profitable quarters together – even if that’s largely thanks to regulatory credit sales.”
But he said there were still concerns about the group’s valuation, which remains eye watering despite being down a little since August.
“If Tesla is going to justify its share price it needs to grow really fast, and that means hitting these quarterly production numbers again and again. However, the valuation seems so high that Tesla investors may still wind up being disappointed. There’s certainly no margin for error.”