Does New Tesla Model 3 Tracker Jibe With Our Sales Estimate?

Blue Tesla Model 3


Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 at the July 2017 handover event

Bloomberg has joined the Tesla Model 3 production tracking game, but will its system prove accurate? Does it reinforce InsideEVs’ sales estimate?

At InsideEVs, we don’t report electric vehicle production, but rather sales/deliveries. However, when it comes to Tesla, and other automakers that either don’t report sales or don’t split ICE and EV figures, we have to have a handle on production to estimate sales. These numbers can vary widely, especially when it comes to a vehicle like the Tesla Model 3.

With that being said, there are few places on the web that actually estimate Tesla sales for the U.S., and if you dig around a bit, you’ll learn that many of the estimates that are available can mostly be traced back to the same few sources.

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Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3, LA Auto Show (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

Thus far, with regards to Model 3 sales estimates (at least up until January’s figure), there have been checks in place to prove accuracy. Since no Model 3s have been sold outside of the U.S., there was no wiggle room to cloud the estimate by having to factor in deliveries for Europe and Asia. Also, Tesla has publicized some numbers along the way. This was not the case for January, although we feel like we had a pretty good handle on the situation (more on that below).

The discrepancy between production and sales can be larger than some might think. While Tesla can crank out a Model S from production to delivery in some ~18 days, it may take the automaker four to five weeks to turn around a Model 3. So, most Model 3s built in December (aside from those that CEO Elon Musk said were “in transit”), as well as most built in January may not be in customer driveways until February.

According to Bloomberg’s new estimator, as of the time of this writing, Tesla has built 7,438 Model 3 sedans. The publication also says that the automaker is likely producing 1,025 Model 3s per week at this point. These numbers will continue to be updated on a regular basis (see update below), as Bloomberg collects more data and streamlines its estimation process.

So, how are these numbers determined?

Bloomberg is using two methods to come up with its math. First, it’s relying on VIN tracking. As we’ve said repeatedly, VINs don’t tell the whole story, but keeping an eye on them can’t hurt. It has become obvious that Tesla is not using sequential VINs, probably so that people can’t track them. Bloomberg does explain that this method has its faults, so the publication is actually petitioning the NHTSA for data every time new Model 3 VINs are registered.

The Model 3 Tracker’s second method searches the internet and social media for reported VINs and VIN sightings. Additionally, Bloomberg has added an area for self-reporting, where owners can submit their VINs. As time goes on, this method should help to establish additional checks and balances against the first method.

Tesla Model 3

Inside the Tesla Model 3 LA Auto Show (Image Credit: Tom Moloughney/InsideEVs)

How accurate is Bloomberg’s Tesla Model 3 Tracker?

Obviously, if we knew the precise answer to that question, we’d have an exact number of Tesla Model 3 production and deliveries, but no one has published such a number.

We do know that Tesla delivered 1,550 Model 3s in the fourth quarter of 2017, and a total of ~1,772 for the year as a whole. We estimated that the automaker delivered another 1,875 during the month of January (860 of which were in transit to customers in late December).

Tesla also revealed that of all vehicles “produced” in Q4, 2,425 were Model 3s (which is pretty close to the same math you get by adding the 1,550 delivered plus the 860 in transit). Some 15 vehicles were likely finished but not yet scheduled for delivery by the end of December. Finally, Tesla added:

“In the last seven working days of the quarter, we made 793 Model 3’s, and in the last few days, we hit a production rate on each of our manufacturing lines that extrapolates to over 1,000 Model 3’s per week.”

So, Bloomberg’s 1,025 “produced” per week at this point makes pretty good sense. It’s important to remember, however, that Bloomberg is saying Tesla just hit that number. Even in the second week of February, its tracker is showing production levels still shy of 1,000. It has been nearly seven weeks since the last confirmed total Model 3 production number of 2,686. This means, according to Bloomberg, Tesla has produced 4,753 cars in just shy of seven weeks.

If you look at the tracker’s interactive chart, it shows 391 Model 3s produced for the first week of January, 422 for week two, 622 for week three, 885 for week four, and 991 for week five. Essentially, though Tesla reported churning out 793 Model 3s in seven days in December, as well as proving the ability to hit a production rate (over the course of a few days) that would extrapolate to 1,000 Model 3s a week.

It looks like the automaker spent the month of January meticulously ramping up to a point in which it could consistently achieve that target number. Bursting out enough cars in a few days to multiply to a potential for 1,000 per week is surely much different from “actually” building 1,000 cars per week over a period of time. Hopefully, now Tesla is achieving that number with regular success and will continue to ramp up incrementally.

How does this all match up with our Tesla Model 3 sales estimate for January?

If Tesla had 860 Model 3s in transit in December and was able to deliver all vehicles produced during the first two weeks of January (391 + 422) plus those 15 other odd vehicles from December, Bloomberg’s tracker estimate would extrapolate to 1,688 Tesla Model 3 deliveries for January. This is not far off from our estimate of 1,875 and surprisingly suggests that our estimate may be a bit high!

What we don’t know for sure is how many of the “manufactured” Model 3s the automaker was actually able to deliver prior to January 31. Some argue that a handful of cars produced in the third week of January may have made their way into owners’ driveways. (Even if we are gracious to say that half of the 622 week-three cars were delivered in January, the sales number only grows to 1,999). The chances of that are very slim, as turnaround time can be as long as four to five weeks for the entire process, and this only gives Tesla some 10-15 business days to get the cars delivered. In fact, there’s a possibility that some cars produced in week two of January weren’t even delivered until February.

UPDATE: As of the time of publication, Bloomberg has secured more data and its estimator shows 7,535 Model 3s built (up 97 units from last evening’s tracker data), however, production is now back down at 965 per week.

What do you think?

Source: Bloomberg, Tesla

Categories: Sales, Tesla

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24 Comments on "Does New Tesla Model 3 Tracker Jibe With Our Sales Estimate?"

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A few hundred up or down is not that critical at this point. What is more important is the ramp-up is going smooth and the timing of the new automated battery assembly unit from Germany (when will it actually be operational!)

I’m also certain Tesla is making sure they do not his that magic 200,000 units delivered in the 1st quarter — so if they are indeed close – that figure will not be reached until sometime in April – when production and deliveries in my opinion will accelerate rapidly (they may hold back some March deliveries). IMHO – there is no way they do not hit 200k deliveries in the 2Q – so let the spigots open!!!

It will probably take at least a few months.

Tesla still has some 35k credits left. They could produce them at a 5k per week level and not hit 200k in Q1.

At this point, there is probably no chance of hitting 200k in Q1.

But hitting 200k in Q2 is almost a foregone conclusion, I agree. Probably late May / early June.

To push it back to Q3 would require Tesla produce way less than anticipated and drastically cut X/S numbers in the US for the next 5 months.

Tesla will manage US/Foreign deliveries to maximize Tax Credits here in the US. This goes for Model S, Model X and Model 3.

Commenters rightly observe that Tesla is probably carefully managing deliveries while building out manufacturing capacity.

For all we know, Tesla is playing up ‘manufacturing hell’ and subsequent delivery delays to capture maximum tax benefit.

That seems like the wrong approach to invent “production hell” just to delay sales.

If anything they should outright come out and say:

“Hey, because congress refuses to extend the EV tax credit, we are going to carefully manage production up until July 1st then we will produce so many EVs it will make your head spin! All these European automakers are getting an unfair advantage over us and GM!” Blame congress and get some attention on the issue.

In fact, even if this isn’t the plan, lying and saying this is the plan would probably be a good PR cover if they really are in production hell lol! XD

Or they can just choose to hold off S/X deliveries in the US and deliver them only in Europe/Canada, etc.

To make it to Q3, it would take a combination of: -Very few or no US deliveries for S/X for the next 5 months. and -Keeping average Model 3 production below an average of 1750 / week for the next 5 months. Well short of their goals this and next quarter. At 1750/week from February through June, that would be exactly 35,000 Model 3s over the next few months. Or they could ship half of the Model 3 production to Canada and Europe. Canadian estimates have moved up to Mid-2018, which isn’t really soon enough to help. But even then, in raw numbers, Canadian demand for EVs is much lower than the US and Europe. It simply isn’t enough to offset US deliveries. And European delivery estimates have stayed the same or been pushed back. (mostly to early 2019) My wife is getting the SR model and we need at least a 50% tax rebate to justify going with the Model 3. So I would *really* like for Tesla to take this route and reduce sales until they’re ready to really crank up production. But I don’t see how they could pull off an intentional delay. If they are going… Read more »

Mid 2018 is plenty early enough to help. Mid-2018 includes (IMO) June and July. June is obvious, July deliveries involves production in June filling the pipeline to Canada for delivery in July.

There is plenty of demand in Canada to soak up a month or two of Tesla production (which isn’t expected to be at a full 5k/wk until the END of Q2.


Great that Tesla is producing more and more and the exact numbers are kinda irrelevant whats important is that their process get smoothed over and production quality is high…

Would be great if Tesla could divert production internationlay to keep the full tax credits as long as possible…

To date, according to InsideEVs Monthly report card, Tesla has sold 163,050 cars. Sales of Models S & X are about flat so til end of Q1 about MS + MX = 4000/mth or 8k. That leaves 29k for M3 or ~3500/wk so no way to hit 200k by the end of this quarter, but they would really have to stretch it to not make it before the end of Q2. They would have to keep M3 US sales to below 1k/wk all the way through to the end of June. I don’t think they will do that, I think they will produce all the M3 they can and break into the 200k US sales as early into Q2 as possible.

Production won’t hit 2.5k/wk until the end of Q1 and 5k won’t come till the end of Q2
Tesla is not going to hit 200k deliveries in the US until Jul 1st. They have no need to, any excess production can go to Canada and in the later half of June fill the pipeline to more distant delivery centers.

On Jul 1st the floodgates open, full pipeline of cars to be delivered and full 5k/wk production. Canada will also be delivering cars in the first part of July that were shipped in June. Q3, if all goes to plan, will be a monster quarter.

The headline on the summary front page doesn’t jibe with the headline on this destination page.

It’s updated. Thanks!

I live in the Bay Area and I now see them every day. They must be ramping.

Yes, they (model 3) are easily daily sighting now.

But I can’t help to notice that Bolt sighting the SF Bay Area is almost every 5 minutes which is a huge improvement from about 1 year ago (which was daily sighting).

Last year, a Chevy Bolt sighting was rare in southern california. But now I see one or 2 everyday. That is after they hit 25k sales in 2017 + 1400 sales in Jan 2018.
So when the Model 3 crosses 30k in sales/deliveries I expect to see them almost daily. After that, it will go “Ballistic”(as Elon would put it)

Shouldn’t it go “S” rather than the dorsal curved up then down of “ballistic”??

Tesla on the Model 3 ramp:
It’s just a logistics problem.

Napoleon on the Russian Campaign:
It’s just a logistics problem.

I believe that Tesla’s distribution structure is stressed by the sudden volume of Model 3s that a thousand a week represents. This is a 40-50% surge over the 1400 a week of Model S and X that I estimate were distributed weekly in the USA. Arranging transportation around the country, prepping and then arranging delivery are “stress tests” that Tesla employees are having to pass before they can contemplate handling twice that volume in four weeks time! There is no smooth-running dealer network that has always seen this volume of business. The employees in the field are going thru’ their own learning curve..

Tesla’s opacity on production figures only stirs more criticism, justifiably.

When they hit real volume, all this talk of a few cars here and there will go away.

They’ve only delivered about 4000 at the end of January. There is no way they will deliver 196000 by the end of June (5 months) to hit 200k. Best I think they can do is 2000-3000 per week so 40-50k more.

It’s 200,000 for all models of EVs produced by a mfg. As of end of 2017 Tesla delivered something like 160,000-170,000 Model S and X that count toward the tax rebate phaseout limit. At this point they only have about 30,000 Model S, X, and 3s to deliver in the US before they reach the phaseout period.

Tesla Model 3 deliveries in February 2018: