Tesla Shows Signs of a Model 3 Surge

It’s been a rough quarter for the rollout of Tesla’s Model 3. 

Tesla Shows Signs of a Model 3 Surge
The Tesla Inc. Model 3 vehicle is displayed during AutoMobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)  

(Bloomberg) -- It’s been a rough quarter for the rollout of Tesla’s Model 3. There were faulty robots at the Nevada battery factory and an idled production line in California. Reservation holders from San Diego to Brooklyn, New York, saw their delivery times pushed back. What should have felt like a cascade of electric cars flooding American streets seemed more like a trickle.  

Now, with less than two weeks left in the quarter, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk is looking to make up for lost time. “Just got back from Gigafactory,” he said on Twitter before dawn Thursday. “Will be at our Fremont factory in the morning. Tesla team is going all out.”

Those efforts appear to be paying off.

Bloomberg is tracking the Model 3 rollout with an experimental tool that estimates production using vehicle identification numbers (VINs). Our model estimates that Tesla is making 805 Model 3s a week, for a grand total of 10,636 cars so far. But that tells only part of the story. We track two sets of VIN data, and both are showing indications of significant improvement to come.

Tesla Shows Signs of a Model 3 Surge

Method 1: Registered VINs

First, our model looks at batches of VINs that Tesla registers with U.S. safety regulators. So far in March, Tesla has registered four batches—enough to build 7,192 new Model 3s. Each batch of VINs was larger than the last, and the time between batches was shorter than we’ve typically seen so far. These are signs of progress. 

Our model is, by design, slow to respond to such changes in the data. In order to avoid over-reacting to unusual batches, we’ve averaged our production rates over time. That means our model’s current estimated production rate is still being held back by February’s temporary manufacturing pause. We expect the improving trend will continue next week, based on the data we’ve already received.  

Tesla Shows Signs of a Model 3 Surge

Method 2: Spotted VINs
Our second data set is made up of VINs from Model 3s spotted in the wild (as in, out on the streets) and those reported by new owners directly to Bloomberg. This week those VINs breached a new threshold, exceeding 12,000 for the first time, with five new record-high VINs. The trajectory of the reported VINs is steeper and more consistent than we’ve seen before, and our model’s estimates are just beginning to reflect that. 

Both of our methods are designed for long-term accuracy, but they take some time to register sudden shifts. The tracker currently shows Tesla making 810 Model 3s a week, up from 693 in the prior week. However, we think our model may be underestimating what’s going on at the Tesla plants. Based on some of the numbers we’re seeing, we think it’s possible that Tesla could already be producing well over 1,000 a week and climbing.  

That doesn’t make up for all of Tesla’s first-quarter production woes. At the start of the year, Tesla said it was already capable of cranking out 1,000 Model 3s a week and would finish the quarter at 2,500 a week. Bloomberg’s model suggests Tesla is still nowhere near where it wanted to be—but there’s still one week left to make up some ground.  

Tesla Shows Signs of a Model 3 Surge


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