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Customers look at Tesla Model S 90D electric vehicles parked at a charging station in a shopping complex in South Korea. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)
Customers look at Tesla Model S 90D electric vehicles parked at a charging station in a shopping complex in South Korea. (SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)

Tesla beats estimates, ships 25,000 vehicles in first quarter Add to ...

Tesla Inc. topped analysts’ estimates for first-quarter deliveries as chief executive officer Elon Musk’s company prepares to begin Model 3 production in July.

The maker of electric cars and energy-storage devices shipped just over 25,000 vehicles in the year’s first three months, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla said Sunday in a statement. The deliveries exceed the average forecast of about 24,200 from three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, and keeps the auto maker on track toward its projection of 47,000 to 50,000 cars in this year’s first half.

The report is the first in a pivotal year as Mr. Musk differentiates Tesla’s lineup, adding the Model 3 as its first high-volume, lower-priced vehicle, while making its existing models even more exclusive. Tesla is discontinuing a low-end Model S with its 60-kilowatt-hour battery pack on April 17, making the 75-kilowatt-hour Model S its cheapest car at $74,500 (U.S.) before tax credits or state rebates until the Model 3 arrives. The Model 3 is expected to begin at $35,000 before incentives and options.

Tesla shares have risen about 30 per cent this year, thanks to anticipation about the Model 3 and the news that Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. took a 5-per-cent stake in the company for $1.8-billion.

Tesla produces cars at its factory in Fremont, Calif., and has yet to prove that it can manufacture in high volumes. While Tesla hasn’t given investors guidance on how many cars it plans to deliver in 2017, Mr. Musk has said it aims to make 500,000 cars in 2018 – an aggressive goal that hinges on battery-cell production at its factory east of Reno, Nev.

Actual first-quarter production was 25,418 vehicles and both sales and deliveries set quarterly records, the company said.

The delivery figure is a preliminary number that may change slightly in May when the company reports earnings for the period. Tesla releases global sales figures quarterly, instead of the monthly country-by-country results typically announced by other auto makers. The delivery count only includes a car if it’s transferred to the customer and all paperwork is correct.

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