Tesla Shrugs Off ‘Recall’; Sales Surge

One thing for sure about Tesla: It’s a newsmaker extraordinaire. Amid the hubbub of the Detroit Auto Show this week, the California-based electric car company nudged its way into the spotlight with an announcement that it did better in the fourth quarter than expected, selling and delivering 6,900 cars, which the company said “exceeded prior guidance by approximately 20 percent.”

That news immediately gave the intensely followed TSLA stock an upward jolt and overwhelmed an earlier kerfuffle regarding Model S cars already on the road. Federal regulators had categorized fixes to up to 29,222 cars, intended to address charging adapter fire concerns, as a “recall.” Tesla’s Elon Musk took to Twitter to wonder how it could be a recall if nobody actually had to bring their car to the Tesla shop.

Here’s Elon’s unfolding tweetage on the topic:

Now back to the sales announcement. Tesla, tiny by automotive manufacturing standards, hasn’t had many problems finding buyers for its cars; the bigger challenge in moving more vehicles, it seems, has been in producing more vehicles – and on that count the company said it did better in the fourth quarter.

“A higher than expected number of cars was manufactured as a result of an excellent effort by the Tesla production team and key suppliers, particularly Panasonic,” Tesla said.

Each Tesla Model S uses 7,000 custom-made lithium-ion battery cells supplied by Panasonic, and those have been in short supply.  At the end of October, the companies updated and expanded a 2011 deal, announcing that Panasonic would “now supply nearly 2 billion cells over the course of four years” for both the Model S and the upcoming Model X, a number that would reportedly allow the company to hit annual sales of 100,000 vehicles – compared to the current 20,000 – in the final year of the deal.

Tesla, in its release, also took the opportunity to undercut critics on a couple of issues they like to raise, safety and wintertime driving range, saying that demand was strong due to the”superlative safety record and excellent cold weather performance” of the Model S.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Jim5437532

    Ongoing Tesla fire hazards. Tesla charger connections are still overheating, melting and burning.

    On January 9, 2014 Elon Musk said that replacement adapters that are part of the recall would be mailed out within two weeks. A month later Tesla customers have still not received the replacement adapters that are part of the Tesla model S. recall.

    Several people have been injured by faulty Tesla charge connectors. Tesla is big on making promises and hype, but short on delivery. Tesla needs to start making safety a top priority. Tesla needs to stop playing blame games and games with semantics. Tesla needs to stop lying. Tesla needs to be proactive instead of reactive. Tesla is being a follower of technology, rather than a leader.