Shame of me for missing the obvious fact that of course Tesla was going to hit its deliveries guidance of
90,000-100,000 cars. Every auto manufacturer in the world always sells what it produces. It’s not as if
newly built cars, if unsold, are dragged away to the junkyard. Rather, if a particular model isn’t
selling well, the manufacturer simply cuts prices until sales pick up. (Of course, if demand is weak, an
automaker will also cut production, which is what Tesla did with its Model S and Xs. At one time, it was
producing nearly 100,000 of these cars annually, but it’s now down to 50,000-60,000.)
So this is one of many critical questions about Tesla: how much did it have to cut prices to sell
its cars? This will, of course, have a major impact on the company’s margins and net income.
Another key factor is product mix. Tesla makes a lot more money selling its higher-priced
cars, the Model S and Model X, than the Model 3, yet Q2 deliveries were heavily skewed toward the latter.
Comparing deliveries to last year’s fourth quarter (ignoring the unusually weak first quarter), Model S
and X sales combined tumbled 36% while Model 3 sales jumped 22%, which does not bode well for margins.
Another mix factor to note is that the U.S. accounted for roughly 70% of sales in
the second quarter vs. less than 50% in Q1. This could be due, in part, to Tesla pulling forward demand
because the federal tax credit for all Tesla buyers fell from $3,750 in the first half of the year to
$1,875 on July 1.
Recall what happened the last time the tax credit dropped – at
the end of 2018, from $7,500 to $3,750. We now know that this helped Tesla report big sales in Q4 ‘19,
but then Q1 was a disaster. Could we see the same dynamics at work from Q2 to Q3 this year?
In summary, while I cannot rule out the possibility that the better-than-expected delivery
number for Q2 is indicative of a genuine and sustainable surge in demand, I don’t think it’s likely. The
more likely scenario, in my opinion, is that the company struggles to sell all of the cars it’s
producing, as a tidal wave of well-reviewed cars from nearly every major manufacturer in the world hits
the market, leading Tesla to report ongoing losses – and the stock sinking to my $100 price target by
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