Elon Musk, co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., speaks during an unveiling event for the Boring Co. Hawthorne test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, U.S. (Photographer: Robyn Beck/Pool via Bloomberg)

Musk Makes Yet Another 2019 Forecast: Up to 600,000 Cars

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk has adjusted his vehicle-production forecast for Tesla Inc.—again. 

Tesla will make between 420,000 and 600,000 cars in 2019, the chief executive officer said on a call with reporters to discuss the arrival of Tesla’s new $35,000 version of the Model 3 sedan. He provided the projection after being asked whether Tesla will be able to increase output for its most affordable vehicle. 

Musk’s forecasts are a sensitive subject. A misfired Tweet landed him in the crosshairs of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission three days ago. Here’s a rough breakdown of how his 2019 estimates have evolved: 

  • In a  Jan. 30 shareholder letter, Tesla predicted deliveries of 360,000 to 400,000 cars
  • Hours later, Musk said on an earnings call the company will sell 350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s alone 
  • On Feb. 19, Musk tweeted Tesla will make around 500,000 cars in 2019
  • Hours later, Musk sent a follow-up tweet clarifying that the company will reach an “annualized production rate” of 500,000 by the end of the year. “Deliveries still estimated to be about 400k”
  • On Feb. 25, the SEC asked a judge to hold Musk in contempt of a settlement reached last year, which required him to get pre-approval from an in-house lawyer before issuing tweets with material information

Note: Production typically exceeds deliveries by a few percent. 

Forecast for the Model S and Model X

Musk’s latest update includes his first forecast for 2019 production of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, which he said will be between 70,000 and 100,000. Earlier this year, Tesla raised prices and added features to the base versions of these models, leaving investors to wonder what the new level of demand might be.

On Thursday, Tesla lowered the price of all vehicles as it cuts costs by closing stores and moving all sales worldwide to online-only ordering. The Model S now starts at $79,000, and the Model X begins at $88,000.

While Musk cautioned “we don’t have a crystal ball,” here’s his full quote about how he arrived at the latest calculation: 

“350,000 to 500,000 Model 3s, is what I said in the earnings call. And then we would expect to make somewhere between 70,000 to 100,000 of the S and X. So the lower bound would be 350,000 plus 70,000, and the upper bound would be 500,000 plus 100,000.”

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