Tesla supplies rose during the quarter Elon Musk calls unusually difficult

Tesla Inc. vehicle supplies rose in the first quarter, but missed Wall Street expectations as the company struggled with global supply chain disruptions and a brief Covid-19 shutdown at its Shanghai plant.

“This was a * usual * difficult quarter due to supply chain disruptions and China’s zero Covid policy,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday morning. Tesla employees and key vendors “save the day,” he added.

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The electric car manufacturer said on Saturday that it delivered 310,000 vehicles globally in the first three months of the year, which is an increase of about 68% compared to the same period a year ago. Deliveries were fairly flat from the last quarter of 2021.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Photographer: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Tesla is massively expanding production capacity to meet the booming demand and adding new factories while trying to sustain supply growth by an average of 50%. Wall Street expected Tesla to deliver about 317,000 vehicles in the first quarter to generate what is expected to be a record quarterly profit when the company posts earnings in a few weeks.

Other major automakers reported slower U.S. sales in the first quarter due to a lack of vehicles.

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Tesla’s largest factory, located in Shanghai, China, halted production in the last four days of the quarter due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the city, raising questions about how it could affect the quarter’s deliveries. The factory builds Model 3s and Model Ys, and last year Tesla sold more than 470,000 cars manufactured at the factory.

The 25-million-strong city of Shanghai went into a partial shutdown in recent days amid an outbreak of Covid-19 cases. Residents near the Tesla plant were ordered to stay inside their homes, public transportation was halted and traffic in the area was severely restricted.

The China plant also shut down for two days earlier in March while the company tested employees for Covid-19.

“I do not think it’s going to affect deliveries significantly,” Tu Le, CEO of Sino Auto Insights, said prior to the delivery results. “January, February, March are notoriously slow for car sales in China.”

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He said sales figures will continue to be closely monitored because the impact of pandemic-related shutdowns on the countryside will be unpredictable.

Model Y cars are pictured during the opening ceremony of the new Tesla Gigafactory for electric cars in Gruenheide, Germany, March 22, 2022. Patrick Pleul / Pool via REUTERS (Patrick Pleul / Pool via REUTERS / Reuters Photos)

Model S and Model X vehicle deliveries totaled 14,724. Tesla also delivered a combined 295,324 Model 3 sedans and Model Y compact sports-utility vehicles. Tesla does not release deliveries by region. In addition, the company said it produced 305,407 vehicles.

Model 3 and Model Y are Tesla’s best-selling cars and the backbone of its production. Musk said the company does not plan to introduce any new car models by 2022.

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Tesla began supplying Model Ys from a new factory in Germany last month. The company is scheduled to open another plant in Austin, Texas, on Thursday. It says the German factory will eventually ramp up up to 500,000 vehicles a year, starting with the Model Y.

Global supply chain problems across industries and record high inflation could affect Tesla’s growth path.

Musk tweeted last month that Tesla saw “significant inflationary pressures recently in commodities and logistics.” Prices for Model 3 and Model Y have risen as much as 30% over the past year, according to Bernstein Research.

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Still, analysts predict that Tesla will continue its pattern of delivering multiple vehicles in consecutive quarters the rest of the year with year-round totals for the top 1.5 million cars and SUVs.

Write to Meghan Bobrowsky at Meghan.Bobrowsky@wsj.com

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