Tesla sells record number of cars but falls short of expectations

Tesla’s third-quarter sales of its cars and SUVs broke records as the company factory in Shanghai overcame pandemic-related supply chain issues, but still falls short of expectations

The electric vehicle and the solar panel company said Sunday it sold 343,830 cars and SUVs in the third quarter, compared with 254,695 deliveries made from April to June.

FILE: The Tesla company logo is seen on the hood of an unsold vehicle at a dealership, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Littleton, Colorado. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File/AP Newsroom)

Still, the delivery numbers were below Wall Street estimates. Analysts polled by data provider FactSet forecast sales of 371,000 vehicles.

Tesla said it was becoming increasingly difficult to find transportation capacity at a reasonable cost when it needed to move vehicles from its factories to its customers. Tesla said it had a higher than usual number of vehicles in transit at the end of the quarter that will count as sales once they are delivered to customers.

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Tesla said it produced 365,923 vehicles in the July-September period. So far this year, the company has delivered 908,573 vehicles, but it will need a strong year-end to meet its 50% annual sales growth forecast for the next few years.

Last year, Tesla delivered 936,172 vehicles. A 50% increase would represent just over 1.4 million for this year.

Automakers, including Tesla, have struggled to get computer chips and other parts needed to make vehicles. As a result, many factories are running under capacity, vehicle supply is low and prices are high.

Tesla China

FILE: A Tesla logo is seen in a Tesla showroom. (REUTERS/Aly Song/Reuters Photos)

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, automakers had to shut down factories for eight weeks to help prevent the virus from spreading. Some parts companies have canceled semiconductor orders. At the same time, demand for laptops, tablets and game consoles has skyrocketed as people stuck at home upgrade their devices.

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By the time automotive production resumed, chipmakers had shifted production to consumer goods, creating a shortage of weatherproof automotive-grade chips. Although Tesla has done better than other automakers, the industry still can’t get enough chips.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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