Tesla stock trading up after 4Q sales announcement

January 15, 2014 9:14:46 AM PST
Tesla stock - TSLA - was up 3.680 to 164.950 Wednesday morning after announcing sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were the highest in company history by a significant margin.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company's cheaper electric car offering is "about three years away." At the moment, the Model S is the only vehicle the electric car maker has on the market. Prices for the Model S start around $70,000. Musk says when the cheaper vehicle does hit the market, it will go for about $35,000. Up next for Tesla is the Model X SUV, which will sell for between $70,000-90,000. That vehicle is set to go on sale in late 2014.

With almost 6,900 vehicles sold and delivered, Tesla exceeded prior guidance by approximately 20 percent. A higher-than-expected number of cars was manufactured as a result of effort by the Tesla production team and key suppliers, particularly Panasonic, a Tesla news release said.

The two key drivers of demand were the safety record of the Model S and performance under extremely cold conditions, the release said. Tesla said it remains the only manufacturer with a perfect safety record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries ever. Including the Roadster, Tesla vehicles have now been on the road for almost six years in 31 countries with almost 200 million miles driven to date, Tesla said, despite dozens of high-speed collisions.

Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Tesla Model S a five-star safety rating overall and in every subcategory, the release said. Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants, Tesla said. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUVs and minivans.

Tesla touted the precision of its electric powertrain, saying the Model S has traction control relative to the much higher latency and inertia of a gasoline powertrain. As a result, it is able to perform better on snow and ice than many all-wheel drive gasoline cars, Tesla said. Tesla said its highest sales per capita are in Norway and the individual customer who owns the most cars lives in Narvik, which is above the Arctic Circle.