Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Photograph:( Reuters )
Tesla's previous record was 139,300 vehicles delivered in the third quarter of 2020
Electric vehicle-maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company fell just shy of delivering its global target of half a million vehicles after the company's lone US plant was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Silicon Valley carmaker said it had delivered 499,550 vehicles during 2020, above Wall Street estimates of 481,261 vehicles, according to Refinitiv data, but 450 units shy of Musk's target.
Musk shared a post on social networking platform Twitter saying "At the start of Tesla, I thought we had (optimistically) a 10 per cent chance of surviving at all."
So proud of the Tesla team for achieving this major milestone! At the start of Tesla, I thought we had (optimistically) a 10% chance of surviving at all. https://t.co/xCqTL5TGlE— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 2, 2021
Tesla's entry-level Model 3 and its crossover Model Y accounted for nearly 86 percent of deliveries, with the balance split between the luxury Model S sedan and the Model X SUV.
Tesla's previous record was 139,300 vehicles delivered in the third quarter of 2020.
On Twitter, congratulations from supporters and bullish investors poured in, lauding the electric vehicle maker for its stellar year, which has defied wider auto industry trends of slumping sales, quarterly losses and global supply chain disruptions.
Tesla's share price has risen more than 700 per cent over the last year, the company has reported five consecutive quarterly profits and in December it was included in the S&P 500 index.
But some online investor accounts criticised Tesla for saying it had achieved its guidance.
Tesla at the start of 2020 said it would "comfortably exceed 500,000 units" for the year, a target it has left unchanged despite the pandemic. Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn in October said Tesla was "aiming to achieve (its) original 2020 guidance."
Tesla has pinned hopes on new markets such as Europe and Asia, with competition intensifying in its home turf as legacy automakers double down on their investments in the booming EV space.
Tesla's delivery push has been supported by its new Shanghai factory, the only plant currently producing vehicles outside California. The carmaker said Model Y production in Shanghai has begun, with deliveries expected shortly.
Palo Alto, California-based Tesla said it delivered 180,570 vehicles during the fourth quarter, a quarterly record for the electric carmaker, beating estimates of 163,628 vehicles.
Tesla has long aimed to manufacture electric cars for the masses and in September Musk, the world's second richest person, said developments in battery technology meant the firm was looking at fielding a $25,000 model in around three years' time.
Though its car production is modest compared with rivals, Tesla's growth prospects have spurred investors to push up its value so that it is now worth more than General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen combined.