Musk said back in October that Tesla turning its attention to filling Model 3 orders in Europe and China early this year would help pick up any slack in demand once US buyers lose the full $7,500 federal tax credit. In Q4 2018, Tesla produced a total of 86,555 vehicles, which is 8% more than its prior all-time-high in the third quarter. The analyst said demand for Tesla vehicles, most notably the Model 3, remained strong leaving 2018 and entering 2019.
Tesla reported that 75 percent of the 61,394 Model 3s it delivered during the quarter went to new customers rather than reservation holders, which suggests numerous latter are still holding out for the $35,000 vehicle. Deliveries also grew to 90,700 vehicles, a number that's also 8% more than Q3 2018's all-time-high. The company said the remaining tax credits combined with not having to fuel up at the gas pump and lowered maintenance costs "means our vehicles are even more affordable than similarly priced gasoline vehicles".
In its previous results statement, the company promised to focus on increasing its production rate.
Past year was a turbulent one for Tesla, with Mr Musk fined and forced out as chairman by the USA financial regulator after he tweeted that he had secured funding to take private the company at $US420 a share.
The Palo Alto, California, company's 2018 sales included nearly 146,000 Model 3 lower-priced cars and another 99,000 of the more expensive Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The move will partly offset the expiration of a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicle purchases that will be phased out this year.
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Tesla has been urging buyers to make use of the federal tax credit, with Musk reminding them on Twitter on Saturday that the benefit would drop to half at the beginning of 2019.
Tesla's shares sank heavily in morning trading, falling over 9% when markets opened.
The 63 150 Model 3s Tesla handed over to customers in the fourth quarter trailed the roughly 63 700 average analyst estimate. The company earned $311.5 million during the three months ending in September, swinging from a loss of $619 million at the same time a year ago.
No sooner did Elon Musk put a raucous 2018 behind him than a new worry erupted for Tesla Inc.: a potential ceiling in demand for its cars. Moody's predicted the company would have to raise more capital.