Tesla projects total 2016 sales of 80,000 to 90,000 electric cars


2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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Tesla Motors projects sales of 80,000 to 90,000 electric cars in 2016, and now believes it will produce 500,000 cars per year by 2018, rather than 2020.

Those two goals were revealed during Tesla's first-quarter earnings call last Wednesday, and would take the company a long way from the 50,000 cars it delivered in 2015.

Tesla projects that it will deliver around 17,000 cars in the second quarter of this year, and more than 50,000 from July through December.

DON'T MISS: Tesla 2015 Deliveries Squeak Past 50,000, With 208 Model X During Q4

The company delivered 14,810 cars in the first quarter, but built 15,510, according to a Tesla shareholder letter.

It notes that the 15,510-car figure represents a quarterly production record, and a 10-percent increase over fourth-quarter 2015.

However, the deliver total of 14,810 was lower than the 16,000 units Tesla had expected.

2016 Tesla Model X

2016 Tesla Model X

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(The company also lowered the final figure by 10 units from the total announced right after the end of the quarter.)

Tesla said it produced 12,851 Model S sedans in Q1, which met its expectation, but that its Model X production of 2,659 units fell short.

There were "severe" parts shortages in January and February, but those were resolved by the end of the quarter, according to Tesla.

ALSO SEE: Tesla delivers 14,820 electric cars from January through March

Early Model X builds have also experienced well-publicized quality issues, including doors that refuse to open, and poorly-installed trim.

The company has previously blamed its own "hubris" in adding too many unusual technology features to the Model X, as well as issues with suppliers.

Meanwhile, Tesla also said Q1 Model S orders were up 45 percent from the same period last year, on broad-based global demand.

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

Tesla Model 3 design prototype - reveal event - March 2016

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The company now says it has around 400,000 reservations for the Model 3, which it expects to begin production in late 2017.

Production of the $35,000, 215-mile electric car will have to ramp up quite quickly, as Tesla now says it will produce 500,000 cars per year a full two years earlier than planned.

Tesla previously set 2020 as the date to achieve that goal, but now will try to reach it after only a year or so of Model 3 production.

MORE: Updated 2016 Tesla Model S also gets new 75-kWh battery option

With its lower base price and consequent broader appeal, the success of Model 3 will likely be the deciding factor in Tesla's ability to meet that goal.

Tesla has missed every one of its own deadlines for car launches, and any delays in the Model 3 would only make it more difficult to ramp up deliveries so quickly.

As analysts have noted, only one vehicle with a base price starting at $35,000 or more sells 100,000 or more units in the U.S. market: that's the BMW 3-Series.

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