Tesla Model 3 deliveries officially began on Friday, but you wouldn’t guess that from the company’s stock price, which has been sliding all day today. Perhaps it has something to do with the updated preorder number CEO Elon Musk provided to members of the media at Friday’s event, as analysts at one firm report something rather suspicious about it.
Meanwhile, another firm’s analysts describe CEO Elon Musk as seeming “squeamish” about producing a car that sells for mass-market prices rather than the ultra-high-end prices fetched by luxury cars, which Tesla is used to producing.
The automaker is set to release its next earnings report on Wednesday, so its shares may be falling as some investors look ahead to that and deciding whether they expect the shares to surge or tumble even further.
Tesla Model 3 deliveries off and running (or walking)
Deliveries kicked off Friday night with the company’s usual amount of fanfare. The initial delivery number is small at only 30 cars, but it’s enough for the company to be able to pronounce itself “on time” with production and initial Tesla Model 3 deliveries. As is always the case when it comes to Tesla, both the bulls and bears had plenty to say about Friday’s event.
In addition to revealing the first 30 Model 3 cars that were delivered, the company also revealed some specifics about the production ramp for the vehicle. Tesla also finally set out a full list of the car’s official specs
What the bulls might say about Tesla Model 3 deliveries
The bulls actually had less to say about it, with the main highlight being the updated reservation count for the EV maker’s first mass market vehicle. KeyBanc analysts Brad Erickson and Elliott Arnson said in a note to investors dated July 30 that Tesla revealed the number of preorders at more than 500,000. The automaker reported that number to a select group of media members.
The KeyBanc team found something very odd with this updated number, however. They reached out to Tesla after the media event to confirm the 500,000-preorder number, but the automaker wouldn’t “commit” to that number, other than to confirm that Musk did give it to members of the media. They believe that the preorder number is currently “the most important metric and basis for the stock.”
They predicted that it would drive positive momentum going into the company’s earnings report on Wednesday, although Tesla stock has actually stumbled.
Of note, The last time the company reported the number of preorders it had for the car was over a year ago when it opened up reservations and reported that more than 370,000 people had ordered a Model 3. In only three days, it had received more than 276,000 reservations for the car.
What the bears are saying
The analysts also offered a few points they felt bears would make when talking about Tesla Model 3 deliveries in the wake of Friday’s event. For example, they expect bears to point out that the first Model 3 cars that are produced won’t exactly be “mass-market,” which is something others have pointed out already.
Tesla is offering 220- and 310-mile variants of the Model 3, but only orders for the more expensive option will be produced for now. Their base price is $44,000, so the company turns an even bigger profit on them than it does on the $35,000-base model with the smaller battery. Another requirement for these first Tesla Model 3 deliveries is the premium upgrade package priced at $5,000. Other upgrade options could bump the price of the car up to $58,000, the KeyBanc team notes. Even ordering a red Model 3 will raise the car’s price.
Model 3 interior quality questioned
They also note that the car lacks a traditional instrument cluster, which looks a little odd the first time you see it. All the controls are in the touchscreen display in the center console, but the KeyBanc team questions whether some will see this as Tesla just being cheap.
Further, the production timeline is about as expected, but they feel that it’s very easy for buyers to lose their priority. The $35,000 base model doesn’t even enter production until December, when it expects to start producing 5,000 Model 3 cars a week. Those who want the dual-motor all-wheel drive model won’t receive their car until the second half of next year at the very earliest, and markets where right-hand drive cars are required won’t receive their cars until at least 2019.
Squeamish about producing non-luxury cars??
Other analysts had other bearish comments to make about those initial Tesla Model 3 deliveries. For example, Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi described Musk as sounding “increasingly squeamish about the production ramp,” especially when it comes to producing the least-expensive variants of the car.
One would certainly agree with that assessment when reading that Musk told reporters at a pre-event sit-down that they have “at least six months now of manufacturing hell” due to the thousands of components in the car.
Tesla shares skidded during regular trading hours on Monday, falling by more than 3% to as low as $341.49 before the bell.