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Tesla beats expectations with record vehicle deliveries

The stock market bulls who drove Tesla’s shares up eight-fold in 2020 were handed a new year present on Saturday, as the electric car maker reported record deliveries of new vehicles that comfortably beat Wall Street expectations.

Tesla said it had delivered 180,570 vehicles during the fourth quarter, ahead of the 174,000 analysts had expected. It also came within a hair’s breadth of hitting the half-million target for 2020 that Elon Musk, chief executive officer, set earlier in the year, with deliveries hitting 499,550.

The latest figures suggested Tesla was firing on all cylinders at the end of a year in which the global automobile industry suffered a sharp contraction in sales. Sales were boosted by the rapid ramping-up of production of a new plant in Shanghai, opened early in the year, and the launch of the Model Y, a crossover based on the company’s Model 3.

After Tesla first showed off its Model 3 in 2016, leading to a rush of deposits from potential buyers, Mr Musk predicted sales would hit as much as 1m vehicles in 2020. Though only reaching half that, the actual figure — an increase of 36 per cent from the year before — still showed Tesla was scaling up its global operations more quickly than some had expected.

Deliveries in the quarter also represented a new record, climbing 30 per cent from the previous record hit during the third quarter. The company said on Saturday that it had also started producing the Model Y in China, and new plants in Texas and Germany are due to start production this year.

Tesla’s shares ended last year at a record following its admission to the S&P 500 index in December, valuing the company at $669m.

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