Tesla announced Friday that it delivered about 367,500 vehicles globally in 2019—meeting its guidance for the year of at least 360,000 vehicles and exceeding what Wall Street analysts had anticipated earlier in the week.
However that may buoy the company's financial performance in the short term—with 2019 deliveries up roughly 50 percent over 2018 amid an industry slowdown—the longer-term story that took form in 2019 is that the Tesla of 2020 and beyond is a truly global manufacturer.
Tesla confirmed that it delivered its first 15 Chinese-made Tesla Model 3 sedans Monday, to Tesla employees. According to Reuters, the Model 3 will start shipping out to customers on a larger scale on Tuesday, January 7; and due to new Chinese subsidies applying to the Model 3, Tesla has cut the base price in China to the equivalent of $42,900 (299,050 yuan).
What a way to close out 2019, and this is only just the beginning.— Tesla (@Tesla) December 30, 2019
Congratulations to the Shanghai team! https://t.co/N6U8qlTPWp
The Shanghai factory, termed Gigafactory 3, has a targeted production of 250,000 vehicles annually—with eventual plans to ramp up to 500,000—and Tesla said in its Friday release that it has already reached a rate of 1,000 vehicles per week.
Giga 3 is one of the first auto assembly plants in China to be owned (and operated) by an automaker based in another country. All other plants in China to date affiliated with foreign automakers have involved joint ventures with local automakers.
Tesla starts delivery of Chinese-made Model 3 sedans on December 30, 2019
Tesla plans in the near future to produce batteries as well as vehicles at the Shanghai plant, and it’s confirmed that the plant will build both Model 3 and Model Y.
Europe is part of the manufacturing plan, too—likely in early 2021. In November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla had chosen Berlin, Germany as the location for its next facility, termed Gigafactory 4. That plant will build batteries, powertrains, and vehicles, starting with the Model Y—and, probably the Model 3.
Just as the China factory will help stabilize business during a potential trade war with China, the European factory will help Tesla in tariff and trade negotiations with the European Union, at a time when there’s pressure to keep engineering and manufacturing resources in Germany.
While the Cybertruck takes form for production and new Roadster and Semi near their final form—with the ramp-up of the Model Y as well—it’s going to be a busy year for the company, globally.
This story was updated to include information from Tesla's Q4 2019 vehicle production and deliveries report, released Friday just after publication.