Tesla Posts 3Q Sales Record But Pace Lags

Tesla Inc. reports its global sales climbed to a record 97,000 units in July-September.

But that pace isn’t strong enough to deliver the full-year volume of at least 360,000 electric cars promised by CEO Elon Musk. The shortfall caused a 6% drop to less than $230 in Tesla’s share price during after-hours trading yesterday.

Tesla’s EV deliveries through the first nine months of the year came close to 255,000 units. That means the company must deliver at least 105,000 cars in the current quarter to achieve Musk’s goal.

But volume alone won’t satisfy skeptical investors, who wonder when Tesla will deliver sustainable profits. More than 80% of Tesla sales in the third quarter were the company’s Model 3 sedan, which currently is based priced at $39,000. It isn’t clear whether the company can earn a profit at that price point.

Tesla has lost more than $6 billion since its inception 16 years ago, including more than $1 billion in the first half of 2019. Musk has told analysts the company would be close to break even in the third quarter and profitable in the final three months of the year.