Tesla's lips zipped on Model S electric car sales figures

Tesla Motors has a set policy of not disclosing monthly sales figures or production figures until it has to by law, Voelcker writes, but online speculation abounds over Tesla Motors sales figures.

Paul Sakuma/AP/File
In this June 2012 file photo, Tesla workers cheer on one the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. In September, Tesla said it expected to deliver 2,700 to 3,225 cars by the end of the year, Voelcker writes, down from its initial 2012 estimate of 5,000 cars.

It may be the most eagerly sought piece of information in the plug-in electric car world.

And Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] ain't talking.

The company has a set policy of not disclosing monthly sales figures or production figures until it has to by law.

So it'll be another month or so before we know how many Tesla Model S electric cars it built, and how many it delivered, through December 31 of last year.

In September, Tesla said it expected to deliver 2,700 to 3,225 cars by the end of the year--down from its initial 2012 estimate of 5,000 cars.

Now the prolific members of the unaffiliated Tesla Motors Club forum have crowdsourced data that may shed some light on the production quantity. 

lengthy thread starts off with a post by member BMek, who posts a neat chart of various VehicleIdentification Number (VIN) data points.

Those include "highest VIN assigned in 2012" (that would be 3383, per member Bonforte), the "highest VIN reported on a truck" (3235, per Jat), and "highest VIN physically delivered" (3026, per "b").

Aren't the Intertubez wonderful?

So that leaves us to parse the numbers, assuming that Tesla--like most automakers--assigns its VINs sequentially.

From this, we take away that Tesla delivered roughly 3,000 Model S electric luxury sport sedans by Dec 31, and produced perhaps 3,350--since VINs may have been assigned to cars not yet completed.

That puts them right in the middle of their revised September projection, which--if our guess is accurate--should make investors happy.

Like our estimate of Fisker Karma production last August, this is guesswork necessitated by the company's stonewalling.

Tesla representatives have said they don't feel the need to release such information, because their buyers don't care and their investors are satisfied with quarterly financial reports.

We're not sure we agree that buyers are disinterested--since a whole lot of Model S reservation holders have asked us that very question--but, hey, we're not selling cars, Tesla is.

Meanwhile, we'll find out the true numbers sometime in February, when Tesla Motors files its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.