SAN FRANCISCO – Tesla Inc. delivered a record 112,000 cars in the final three months of 2019, as buyers rushed to take advantage of subsidies being dialed back or eliminated altogether in three key markets this year.
The electric-vehicle maker handed over 92,550 Model 3 and 19,450 Model S and Model X electric vehicles in the fourth quarter, according to a statement, eclipsing its previous total best of 97,000 set in the prior three months. Tesla delivered 367,500 vehicles total in all of 2019, topping the low end of its forecast for at least 360,000.
The results add to the momentum Chief Executive Elon Musk ended last year with following a surprise quarterly profit reported in late October. To stay on a roll, Tesla will have to overcome the ceasing of federal tax credits for its vehicles in the U.S. and less-generous support from the Netherlands, which generated huge demand with tax incentives that expired at year-end.
While policymakers in China have mulled further reducing subsidies, a new plant Tesla has built near Shanghai is making Model 3s assembled there eligible for handouts, and locally built sedans will be exempt from a purchase tax.
International deliveries of the Model 3 sedan began in early 2019 and became a significant source of sales over the course of the year. While Tesla doesn't release a breakdown of deliveries by region or country, the company disclosed in October that revenue in the U.S. plummeted by almost 40% in the third quarter from the year-earlier period. That drop more than offset growth in other geographies.
In the Netherlands, 12,062 Model 3s were registered in December alone, according to Kentekenradar, which publishes daily Dutch fleet data updates. That's more than double the car's previous best month in September.
U.S. buyers were still eligible for $1,875 federal tax credits for the last six months of 2019.
While that perk went to zero as of Jan. 1, some state incentives are still available.
Tesla went to great lengths to help some customers take delivery of their car in time to get the tax credit, paying one journalist who lives in Florida to fly to St. Louis so he could pick up his car before the end of the year.
Tesla has said that China could become the biggest market for Model 3s, which are now being assembled at the factory near Shanghai. Prospects for growth in the market helped buoy the stock leading up to the company handing over the first locally made sedans to 15 of its own employees on Dec. 30.
The stock closed as high as $430.94 last week, a record reached less than seven months after plumbing to as low as $178.97 in June.