Tesla Hits Low End of Goal, Shipping 17,400 Autos in Quarter

Tesla's Speed Bump: Slow Start for Model X SUV Deliveries
  • Maker of electric cars delivers 50,580 vehicles for the year
  • Deliveries included 208 Model X sport utility vehicles

Billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. hit the low end of its latest target to deliver at least 50,000 vehicles for the year, shipping 17,400 in the fourth quarter. The shares fell the most in more than two months.

The maker of electric cars and energy storage devices delivered 50,580 Model S sedans and Model X sport utility vehicles in 2015, Tesla said in a statement Sunday. While that’s less than the 55,000 Tesla had projected in a February letter to shareholders, it was within the range of its revised estimate of 50,000 to 52,000 from November.

Tesla’s guidance changed during the year as it grappled with manufacturing more than one vehicle and a steep production ramp. It’s producing the two all-electric vehicles on a shared assembly line in Fremont, California. Musk, the chief executive officer, turned over the first six Model X SUVs to owners at a high profile event on Sept. 29, and the deliveries accelerated over the holidays. It shipped 208 Model Xs in the quarter and produced 507.

“The X number is lower than some expectations, but production has picked up nicely,” Ben Kallo, an analyst with Robert W. Baird who rates the shares as neutral, said in an interview Sunday. “They hit within their guidance.”

Tesla slid 4.7 percent to $228.83 at 9:40 a.m. in New York after dropping 4.8 percent, the most intraday since Oct. 20. The shares rose 7.9 percent in 2015, closing at $240.01 on Dec. 31 to give it a market capitalization of $31.4 billion. The stock had closed as high as $282.26 in July.

Musk, who got the first Model X, has been candid about the challenges of engineering and manufacturing the SUV. The vehicle has complex and distinct features such as “falcon-wing” doors, independently operable second-row seats and a large, panoramic windshield.

“Model X deliveries are in line with the very early stages of our Model X production ramp as we prioritize quality above all else,” the company said in the statement. Based on the daily production rate in the last week of the year, weekly output would be about 238 SUVs, Tesla said.

The fourth-quarter deliveries were near the low end of Tesla’s projected range. In its November letter to shareholders, the company had said it expected to ship 17,000 to 19,000 vehicles.