Tesla posts record Q1 despite coronavirus shutdowns

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Tesla announces profitable fourth quarter, early Model Y release.
Image: Tesla

The past month has been devastating for the global economy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to shut down businesses and force consumers inside. However, Tesla looks like a bright spot in an otherwise bleak quarter for the automotive industry.

Elon Musk’s electric car company had a record first quarter in terms of production and sales despite factory shutdowns later in the period. Though its numbers are down from its best-ever quarter last year, Tesla seems poised for a successful 2020 amid the world’s chaos.

Bountiful Production

Keeping the supply chain intact has been a hot issue for many companies. For Tesla, it seems that production wasn’t an issue in the first quarter. The company released its Q1 2020 numbers on Thursday to the delight of investors.

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It cites the earlier-than-expected production and shipment of its Model Y as a big part of the success. Moreover, the company’s recently-opened Gigafactory in Shanghai helped keep its production numbers elevated despite slowdowns in other facilities.

In the first quarter, the electric carmaker produced 102,672 cars. That figure represents the company’s second-best quarter ever. It also delivered 88,400 cars in the first quarter. Together, those numbers give Tesla its best first quarter in history.

CEO Elon Musk has often said that the first half of each year is more difficult due to the seasonal nature of the auto industry. Prior to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, he said that the beginning of 2020 would be “tough” for the company. Throwing in a global health crisis doesn’t help. However, it seems that demand for electric cars is helping Tesla overcome a bit of that difficulty.

In a July 2019 conference call, Musk said, “Q2 will be not as bad, but still tough.”

With the coronavirus predicted to hit the economy even harder in April and May, the second quarter may not be as glamorous. However, if Tesla starts cranking out ventilators as Musk has suggested, it may be able to make up for some lost revenue.

Positive Signs

Despite the current state of the world, Tesla is riding a hot streak. Last year was the electric carmaker’s best to date, selling more cars than it did in 2017-18 combined. Shipments of the wildly-successful Model 3 in Europe and China helped that cause.

Though it took several years to find its footing it appears that Tesla is finally growing into its potential. Over the next decade, the electric car industry is predicted to grow significantly as more traditional auto manufacturers hop on the trend with models of their own.

However, as Tesla has had more time to prepare (and offers some of the most technologically advanced cars out there) it should have a leg-up on the competition.

In the short-term, side effects of the coronavirus will likely stifle the company’s numbers. Thanks to its strong first quarter, though, it seems that Tesla is still going to have a positive year.

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