The stock of Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA - Analyst Report) surged 16.3% to $162 per share after the electric carmaker revealed that vehicle sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were 20% higher than estimated. The company sold and delivered 6,900 vehicles in the quarter, compared to the guidance of 6,000 units. Sales were also significantly higher than 5,500 cars sold in the third quarter.
This is the highest sales recorded by Tesla. The combined efforts of the company’s production team and its key suppliers, especially Panasonic, helped it to surpass the guidance.
The contribution of suppliers is notable as Tesla has been facing a shortage of lithium-ion battery cells, which is limiting its production capacity. Consequently, the company is facing trouble in meeting the rising demand for its Model S.
Tesla is working on overcoming this constraint. In Nov 2013, the electric carmaker extended its supplier agreement with Panasonic, whereby the latter will supply around two billion automotive grade lithium-ion battery cells to Tesla over the next four years. This is enough to produce around 300,000 cars. The company is also mulling over opening a cell and battery giga factory to boost cell production.
Meanwhile, the demand for Tesla’s cars remains strong on robust performances and impressive designs of its products. Model S ensures the least possibility of injury to passengers among all major car makes and models in the U.S. The car won a five-star vehicle safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is awarded to only 1% of the cars tested. Moreover, the safety score of this sedan exceeded the scores of most sports utility vehicles and minivans.
Further, Tesla holds the record of not having any deaths or permanent injuries to passengers in any of its cars, during the six years that its cars have been in the market.
The outstanding performance of Model S in cold weather also contributes to its rising demand. The high traction control provided by its electric powertrain leads to better performance of the car in snow and ice, compared to a gasoline powertrain. As a result, Tesla has the highest per capita sales in Norway.
Tesla designs and manufactures electric vehicles and electric vehicle powertrain components for partners including Toyota Motor Corporation (TM - Analyst Report) and Daimler AG (DDAIF).
Tesla currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). A better-ranked automobile stock is Harley-Davidson, Inc. (HOG - Analyst Report), which carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).