SAN FRANCISCO – Tesla's electric car sales accelerated again during the summer, but Tesla is still behind the pace needed to reach CEO Elon Musk's year-round goal.
The company delivered 97,000 vehicles from July to September, more than in any other three-month period in its history. Performance increased Tesla sales in the first nine months of the year to nearly 255,000 cars. This means that it will need to deliver about 105,000 vehicles during the last three months of the year to reach the lower limit of Musk's sales target of 360,000 to 400,000 cars for the full year 2019.
Third-quarter sales figures announced on Wednesday fell below the average estimate of 99,000 vehicles among analysts surveyed by FactSet.
Tesla shares fell 4% to $ 233 after the release.
Investors are also wondering if Tesla's growing numbers will translate into profits that mostly eluded the company that Musk was co-founded 16 years ago.
Tesla's cheapest car, the Model 3 sedan, remained by far its bestseller during the third quarter, accounting for nearly 80,000 of vehicle deliveries. This is good news, as it shows that Tesla is capable of manufacturing an electric car with a starting price of $ 35,000, which appeals to a mass market. But it is unclear whether Tesla can make money from a car sold at this price, something that could extend its long history of losses even by selling more models.
The Palo Alto, Calif., Company has suffered more than $ 6 billion in losses since its inception, but Musk repeatedly promised over the past year that Tesla would soon be on solid financial ground. He reported losses of more than $ 1 billion during the first half of this year. In July, Musk assured that Tesla analysts would be "balanced" from July to September, before making a profit during the last quarter of the year.
Tesla is expected to release its third quarter financial results later this month or early next month.