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Model 3 Helps Tesla Send Quarterly Deliveries to a Record


After a big drop in sales to start the year, Tesla delivered some good news on Tuesday: a record number of deliveries in the most recent quarter.

The electric-car maker said it had delivered 95,200 autos, bettering the mark it had set in last year’s final quarter.

Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, had foreshadowed the results in an email to employees last week, pointing to a figure of 90,000 to 100,000.

The official tally was reported after the market closed, and Tesla stock rose 7 percent in extended trading. The company’s shares had lost about 35 percent of their value since closing above $347 on Jan. 11.

Tesla benefited from a full quarter of selling the Model 3, its most affordable car, in Europe and China. Deliveries to those markets began about halfway through the first quarter.

It delivered 77,550 Model 3s, up more than 50 percent from the first quarter. Combined sales of the more expensive and profitable Model S full-size sedan and the Model X sport utility vehicle also improved to 17,650 vehicles, from 12,100 in the first quarter. But the total was well below the 27,550 delivered in the fourth quarter.

“It was definitely a good quarter for them,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at

In the United States market, Tesla reduced prices and offered a lease deal on the Model 3. “That seemed to get them traction in the market,” Ms. Caldwell said. “It helped move the needle.”

Tesla said 7,400 cars were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter, down from 10,600 at the end of the first quarter.

The company produced 87,048 vehicles in the second quarter, an increase of 13 percent from the first three months of the year. It made 72,531 Model 3s and 14,517 Model S and X vehicles.

In a statement, Tesla said new orders had exceeded deliveries in the second quarter, adding that the company was “well positioned” to increase production and deliveries in the third quarter.

Yet even with the solid showing, Tesla may be hard pressed to reach its goal of selling 360,000 to 400,000 cars this year. That is because the company has delivered just over 158,000 in the first six months.

Perhaps more worrying is that Tesla cut prices several times to stimulate sales, moves likely to hurt its bottom line.

“When you cut prices to hit sales targets, you don’t show that you are on the path to sustained profits,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan. “You could be on the path to long-term losses.”

Keeping sales on the rise may be a challenge in the second half of the year. As of Monday, the federal tax credit available to Tesla’s customers fell by half, to $1,875, effectively raising the cost of its cars.

The first-quarter deliveries declined from 90,700 in the final quarter of 2018 after the credit was reduced to $3,750 from $7,500. The tax credit will be eliminated at the start of next year.

“Tesla watchers and investors should think less about numbers for the next few quarters,” Mr. Gordon said, “and more about how the company will compete when established car companies with dealer networks, global manufacturing and ample capital invade the market.”

Tesla has had an up-and-down ride in the first six months of the year. As sales slumped in the winter months, Mr. Musk announced that the company would close many of its stores, only to reverse course days later. He generated enthusiasm among Tesla fans when he unveiled Tesla’s next car, the Model Y, a roomier derivative of the Model 3. The car is not expected to go into volume production until late next year, however.

In the first quarter, the company lost $702 million, and it said it was likely to post another loss when it reported second-quarter earnings this month. In May, Tesla raised $2.7 billion by selling stock and convertible bonds to investors, shoring up its supply of cash.

At the same time, Mr. Musk tried to drum up investor enthusiasm for advanced technology that Tesla is developing. In a daylong presentation, he announced that Tesla expected its cars soon to have the ability to drive themselves, and predicted that as many as a million would be operating by the end of next year.

In June, two of Tesla’s 11 directors departed, and two more plan to do so next year. There has been a string of departures of senior executives as well. Peter Hochholdinger, vice president for production, who was a highly praised hire when he joined Tesla from Audi in 2016, left this month to become head of manufacturing at a rival electric-car company, Lucid Motors. Steve MacManus, another top manufacturing executive, also left the company.

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