2012 Tesla Model S: 50 Cars Built, 29 Delivered, Maker Says

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2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

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Tesla likes to do things its own way.

So while the company still refuses to report sales in the usual manner--at the end of every month like every other automaker--it does release bits and pieces of data on its corporate publicity site.

On Thursday, Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] said that since June 22, when it started deliveries of its 2012 Model S, it has built 50 cars.

Of those, 29 are destined for customer deliveries--it says more than 12,200 buyers have put down deposits for the all-electric sport sedan--and 21 will go to Tesla stores for display.

Tesla is now building 10 cars a week, and company spokesperson Christina Ra told the San Francisco Chronicle that it intends to build 50 more in the next two to three weeks.

Production of the 2012 Tesla Model S will accelerate thereafter, and the company is standing by its goal of 5,000 deliveries of the car during calendar 2012--with 10,000 or more next year.

Collectively, those first 50 cars have already covered almost 40,000 miles, two-thirds of that distance during short test drives offered to depositors on the company's "Get Amped" drive program.

The first Model S sedans to be built are all Signature Series cars with the largest 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is rated by the EPA at 265 miles of range.

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

Enlarge Photo

The lengthy post Thursday on the company's site also detailed a few minor specifications changes that it attributed to the need for maintaining high production quality levels.

VP George Blankenship noted that Tesla had temporarily deleted both the lighted vanity mirrors and the rear-seat reading lights from early Model S cars in order to maintain acceptable quality.

Wires remain in place for the rear-seat overhead lights, but the company said that it would be a while before it provides the lighted vanity mirrors due to concerns over the quality of parts provided.


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Comments (19)
  1. I get my "short test drive" at Palo Alto on this coming Sunday. I am most eager to actually see, touch, feel the Model S and how it rides and performs, even if it is for less than 10 minutes.

    8 - (

  2. I am jealous... :)

  3. Guess that answers the sceptic's "Why Is Tesla Scared To Release Its Electric-Car Sales Data?" question.

    Clearly they are not, even if it's nothing to write home about in this early ramp up stage. The problems with silly details like light fittings is a reminder of the large number of parts that need to come together correctly to build the finished product.

    Reminds me that the sceptics are right about the huge challenge of ramping up production and meeting promised production goals. They can't afford to keep that enormous number of people that put down those $5K deposits waiting for too long. Exciting process to watch with many reputations on the line.

  4. @Chris: Tesla's assertion of 50 built is an interesting data point, but insufficient.

    It is far from conventional "sales reporting", which (a) records completed deliveries to paid customers, not "cars built that will eventually be sent to customers"--which is what this is; and (b) is issued at the end of every month by every legitimate automaker.

    Suppose there had been questions about the ability of GM or Toyota to produce a new kind of vehicle or technology. Suppose company execs randomly tossed out numbers saying, "We'll sell this many" or "we've now built that many" but refused to provide conventional sales data to prove those assertions. Would those execs not justifiably be roasted?

  5. It is done all the time in many industries. Sales numbers are often never reported only revenue.

  6. No doubt. But it's been done for many decades in the auto industry, and even the exotics (Ferrari, Bugatti, Lamborghini, etc.) report their numbers, however small. So for small startup carmakers (Tesla, Fisker, Coda) not to do so simply casts them in an even shakier light than they may already be in.

  7. @John. I agree. Automakers have to be able to combine both production capability and financial capital in order to mass-produce an expensive highly complex product such as a car. You also said Chrysler is last manufacture who is still with us today to do this. I really like Tesla and I would like to see them survive and even flourish but I cannot ignore that it is a challenging process to be able to manufacture tens of thousands of automobiles each and every year. Tesla is most likely finding out that it is much harder than they thought to design and mass produce a totally new automobile from the ground up than a limited production high margin sports car such as the Roadster where much of the body and chassis development is done all ready

  8. 50 made, 29 to customers at some point. 21 for 12,200 customers to test on get amped tour now. Doesn't seem like a big deal - - - only 50 cars.

  9. @ John Voelcker: I know your opinion of Tesla. Model S is boderline vapourware from a company with a snowball's chance in heck of survival and a CEO who is basically a lying crook.

    This CEO put his reputation on the line though by promising 5K units by the end of the year, so let's give him a chance to prove himself without this futile bickering about the correct way of reporting sales.

    At the end of the year reputations will be bolstered or tarnished, and either Musk or his detractors will loose a lot of credibility.

  10. Even missing the fixed 5000 mark will get a bye if... he gets production rates up above the elusive (or is that allusive, or both) production break even point.

  11. Hmmm. At the current build rate, they should be able to fulfill the 12,200 orders in about 23.5 years.

    My wife put her order in for a new Cessna Skylane 182 airplane eleven weeks ago. It was delivered this morning. So for a price a little more than double of an "S", she has her ride and I'm still driving my company car.

  12. David, that's an unfair comparison, as Cessna has their production and assembly process worked out. I know that reservation holders are chomping at the bit to drive their new S' I would be too, but the voice of reason says that it's better to wait a bit longer for a quality product, than to get a shoddily assembled vehicle quickly.

    If they're still producing cars at this rate next year, then it's a problem. The fact that they're sticking to their 5k deliveries for 2012 gives me some reassurance.

  13. The Cessna airplane comparison is an interesting choice as 182 is a descendent of Cessna 140 introduced in 1946. The C-140 was 1st Cessna introduced with a new line of all-aluminum aircraft that used production tools, dies and jigs rather than the hand-built process used older steel tube-and-fabric construction.

    This is similar to changes Tesla has had to make with production of an all-aluminum vehicle body. Tools, dies, jigs and production process required re-engineering to produce quality parts with new materials.

    Nissan/Infiniti is undertaking similar re-engineering for its aluminum Infiniti LE EV concept. Ford is considering an aluminum F-150 truck.

  14. I'm happy that Tesla is taking a quality not quantity approach. I'm setup for a fall test drive, I have to make a 200+ mile drive to get there but the Model S is worth the trip.

  15. Back in May I said if Tesla wants to be more than just a luxury boutique EV automaker then it needs to ramp up production quickly on the Model S. I am surprised that only a total of 50 cars have been built in the 6 weeks since the June 22nd release date. I was hoping that they would have had at least 50 or so cars ready by the June 22 release date since they are Signature models that are built specifically to the buyer’s order. I wonder if they are having problems with supply of parts or if they are having problems with their workflow in the assembly line. Looking at the math equation for 5000 cars by the end of December is 5000-50 all ready built = 4950/5 months = 990 cars per month or 33 cars per day. I would be surprised if they do this

  16. Here is the scoop. They have been building 5 cars a week. They are DOUBLING production to 10 a week. There are no mechanical or structural issues. Everyone in the company is completely focused on fit and finish details. These are not Dodge Neons! People buying these signature cars have very high expectations.

  17. Well I look at it this way. Tesla could loose out on many customers if it doesn't ramp up production quickly since there are about 12,000 Model S reservation holders that have put down deposits for a car. Even if they double production to 10 cars a week it's still only about 43 cars per month. Tesla has to get production up to greater than 20 cars per day just to come close to satisfying all the deposit holder dreams of having their Model S within a year or so. Its is good that Tesla is attempting to maximize quality control in order to prevent what happened to Fisker from happing to them. Tesla also has to realize that the honeymoon will be over soon and they only have at most a few months of goodwill of the depositors to ramp up quantity

  18. I love how all of the skeptics are taking the "current build rate" view, instead of the hockey stick view that is planned. GG

  19. I am "surprised" that Tesla doesn't come out and release the sales data. Tesla is a publically trade company. Its earning report would require it to disclose all the revenue and actual sales figure. I guess we would have to wait for its qtrly earnings to see what the actual ramp up is...

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