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499,550 Tesla Cars Delivered In 2020: A Whisker Shy Of Musk’s Half-Million Target

Manufacturers  ·  January 15, 2021

499,550 Tesla Cars Delivered In 2020: A Whisker Shy Of Musk’s Half-Million Target

Five years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a bold statement that his company was set to produce 500,000 Teslas in 2020. It seemed a quixotic goal at the time. Worse, COVID-19—one of history’s most devastating pandemics—stepped in as the year’s opening salvo. Wherever you looked, it seemed that Musk’s dream would remain a dream, and it would be excusable under the circumstances.

Musk Misses Delivery Target of Half-Million Teslas by a Hair’s Breadth  

You have to give it to Musk and his bullish outlook, though. His goal of half-a-million Tesla cars never wavered. From 2015 through 2020, he drummed on this target, never blinking an eye even as the pandemic flipped over the global economy. Auto sales went freefalling, the supply chain was disrupted, and even Tesla’s assembly operation was paused for several weeks.

The biggest surprise? Musk still missed his target but only by a hair’s breadth—this American automaker sold 499,550 Teslas in 2020—just 400+ short of his forecast! They delivered 180,570 Teslas in the last quarter alone, boosting annual sales by 36% over their 2019 performance. An incredible feat considering that, many years ago, Tesla was only producing around 600 cars per year. At the time of Musk's fearless forecast, they were rolling out 600 EVs in 3 days. It implied that they needed to up their production rate by at least seven times.

Elon Musk had his team to thank for, tweeting that they hurdled a ‘major milestone’ and recalling that they started with only 10% chance of surviving in the industry. Besides encouraging employees on the production end, Tesla matched this with competitive marketing efforts. Deliveries completed in the last week of December came with eye-popping freebies, such as a $10,000-worth autonomous-driving package. The launching of Tesla’s Model Y mid-sized SUV also aptly provided the drumbeat to drive the last-quarter sales.

2020 Annual Sales of the Tesla S/X and 3/Y Models  

Tesla typically releases its sales reports by combining the older S flagship sedan and X SUV, and the newer 3 and Y models. Gleaning from the sales figures in the table below as reported by Tesla, it’s easy to see that the interest in the older models has shifted to the more recent Model 3 and the latest-model SUV. It also shows that Tesla has actually produced more than half-a-million electric cars for the year, 509,737, to be exact, but only 499,550 found their new homes before the year ended.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers:


                4th Qtr, 2020

Total, 2020




















If you may have noted, deliveries for the fourth quarter exceeded production in the corresponding period. There’s no error there, as deliveries would have included some cars produced from the previous quarters.

Tesla doesn’t provide figures for sales in the different regions around the world. In fact, the monthly new car sales reported by FCAI do not include Tesla cars sold in Australia.

What’s Next for Tesla?

With Tesla’s yearend success and skyrocketing stock price, its founder and CEO overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on January 7, 2021 as the world’s richest person with a net worth of over $185 billion. However, four days later, he slipped behind Bezos after a fall in his fortunes due to a buoyant Tesla stock, though still well within the $175-billion region.

Aside from the excitement provided by Tesla’s buoyant stock, the electric-car company has a busy year ahead. It has established new factories and faces several opportunities and challenges, such as the increasing demand from China and the EU, and stronger competition from Ford’s Mustang Mach E SUV and other EV contenders.

As the older models (X and S) are losing their magic, we can’t keep asking, what’s next with Tesla? Will there by a Tesla pickup. Considering that the Rivian pickup truck is gaining followership, Tesla has got to step up its game in this category, too. Tesla’s official website promises the coming of its Tesla Cybertruck before 2021 ends. We’ll see! Keep posted by signing up to!  

By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)

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