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Tesla Inc hit a half-million car target in 2020

Tesla Inc hit its goal of building around 500,000 cars in 2020, a first for the automaker, it reported Saturday.

The finished deliveries to customers, which is slightly different from the production figure, fell just short of that same goal as it provided 499,550 cars. Nonetheless, that sales total rounds up to the 500,000 targets.

The full-year production and deliveries increased by more than a third from 2019 levels, an impressive gain, especially given the automaker’s major factory in Fremont, California, was closed for nearly two months from mid-March to early May by Covid-19 stay-at-home orders. A global recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic also cut into worldwide auto sales. Tesla’s new plant in Shanghai, which opened in late 2019, was a major factor involved in its increased production and sales.

The company produced 179,757 cars in the fourth quarter, increasing 71% from a year ago, and it made deliveries of 180,570 cars, a 61% increase. While Tesla CEO Elon Musk provided guidance in October that the company would reach the 500,000-car target for the year, Wall Street analysts were expecting the company would miss it by about 9,000 cars, instead of a few hundred.

Hitting that half-million number is a significant “feather in the cap for the company and the bulls,” given the hit to customers’ buying power during the pandemic, wrote analyst Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities. “In a nutshell, Tesla had a high bar to hit for the fourth quarter and impressively exceeded the Street … an eye popping performance to finish the year.”

The automaker has even more ambitious plans to boost production, with plants under construction and expected to open this year outside Berlin, Germany, and Austin, Texas. Tesla is also set to begin selling Tesla models in India in 2021.

The company’s sales growth is nothing compared to the increasing rise in the Tesla share price, which increased 743% for the year. The company’s 2019 and 2020 results proved it could be consistently profitable, and its forecast of greater sales and profits in the future helped to fuel the stock increase.

Other automakers are yet to report US sales totals on Tuesday, and worldwide sales totals for 2020 later in the month. But most are expected to report a decline in sales due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

While Tesla’s sales numbers may seem high to some, they are still way less than those of the established automakers such as Volkswagen who sold just under 11 million cars worldwide in 2019. General Motors sold 7.7 million cars in 2019.

Tesla’s stock rise during the last 18 months has made it the most valuable automaker in the world. Its existing market cap is worth roughly the combined value of the next eight most valuable global automakers including Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors, BMW, Honda, Daimler, Hyundai, and Ford.

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