Tesla's third quarter (Q3) results are out, here are the highlights. The first thing to note is that they delivered 11,603 and produced 13,091 EVs (some are being delivered after the end of the quarter...). This compares well to Q3 of last year when they delivered 7,785 EVs, for a 49% year-on-year increase. This is despite a 1-week factory shutdown (more on that below). The company also confirmed that its Autopilot software update went live on 40,000 Model S electric cars around the world. This isn't the whole fleet because the software hasn't been approved in Japan yet, and because early Model S EVs didn't have all the sensors required.
Musk confirmed that the Model 3, the upcoming third-generation EV that aims to be more affordable, is on track to be unveiled in late March 2016.
The quarter included a 1-week factory shutdown to retool. This upgrade should increase production throughput by "over 35%".
For next quarter (Q4), the company plans to build 15,000 to 17,000 EVs, and deliver 17,000 to 19,000 (some produced in Q3 but not yet delivered), which will result in 50,000 to 52,000 total deliveries for 2015. Musk added: "Looking ahead, we still remain highly confident of average production and deliveries of 1,600 to 1,800 vehicles per week for Model S and Model X combined during 2016." If we average this to 1,700/week, that's 88,400 EVs for 2016, or 76% more than the 50,000 forecast for 2015.
Another big piece of news that is quite important for the company's future - because without a large supply of cheap batteries they won't be able to hit their price target and unit volume on the Model 3 - is that the Gigafactory construction is going well. In fact, they are ahead of schedule and have started some manufacturing operations there:
We began production of Tesla Energy products in Q3 at our Fremont factory, with a long-term plan to shift production to the Gigafactory. Faced with growing demand for Powerpacks and Powerwalls, we have accelerated our plans to expand manufacturing capacity. In early Q4, we relocated production from Fremont to an automated assembly line at the Gigafactory. [...] We have also accelerated plans to begin cell production for Tesla Energy products at the Gigafactory by the end of 2016. This is several quarters ahead of our initial plan.
The company is seeing strong interest in Tesla Energy products from Australia, Germany and South Africa, and is expanding its energy team.
Musk also commented on the Autopilot feature on the conference call, saying that the company was aware of many accidents that were avoided thanks to it (like this one), and none that were caused by it. But they saw the crazy youtube videos, and so they will be adding new restrictions to the software to keep people from putting themselves in dangerous situations. It's not quite clear what those restrictions will be, but I can guess that maybe they would prevent the Autopilot from even being turned on on more types of roads, and maybe enforce better the "keep your hands on the wheel" rule via sensors.
The company has also hired Google’s VP of Finance Jason Wheeler to become its new CFO, replacing Deepak Ahuja, who is retiring.
Here's what the Gigafactory looked like in early September:
More details about it here.