Palo Alto, California – Rounding up, it was close enough.
Electric vehicle (EV) company Tesla delivered nearly 500,000 vehicles last year (450 short of the target), pretty much meeting a goal that seemed unrealistically optimistic when COVID-19 shut down factories and decimated auto sales during the year.
The 36% sales increase came as Tesla’s conventional vehicle competitors posted double digit declines for the year (more on that once all automakers have reported 2020 sales), with most down about 12%.
In late 2019, Tesla worked out most of the glitches it had encountered in the launch of its Model 3, a more affordable hatchback compared to its earlier vehicles. Last year, it launched a new plant in China and the Model Y small crossover. This year, the company hopes to start production of its Cybertruck pickup in Texas, but production isn’t likely to start until late in the fourth quarter at the earliest.
Tesla predicted early in 2020 that it would hit the half-million vehicle mark last year, but months of COVID-19-related shutdowns at its Fremont, California, plant made that look unlikely at mid-year. In October, CEO Elon Musk said in a memo to employees that the company had caught up with those lost sales and that the 500,000-vehicle mark was still possible if workers could improve output. Based on the final numbers, they clearly did so.