Tesla reports record number of deliveries to start year - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tesla reports record number of deliveries to start year

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(NBC) - Tesla got a jump on the rest of the auto industry, reporting late Sunday that it set new production and delivery records for the first quarter of the year.

That comes as particular good news for the Silicon Valley manufacturer of electric vehicles, Tesla stretching its finances as it prepares for the launch of the all-new Model 3 sedan later this year. Sales had slumped during the final quarter of 2017 due to a mix of production snags, including the shift to a new version of the maker's Autopilot system.

Tesla was forced to return to Wall Street late in the January-March quarter, raising about $1.4 billion in a new stock offering. Investors responded positively, despite CEO Elon Musk's warning that the maker's finances were "getting very close to the edge."

The Model 3 will go into production in July, according to Musk, though it will likely be months before customers begin taking delivery of Tesla's first mainstream battery-electric sedan.

For now, the maker continues to rely on two higher-priced models delivering 13,450 Model S sedans during the final three months of 2016, along with 11,550 Model X battery-SUVs. The January-March numbers would have been even stronger but for transportation and other delays that meant about 2,750 vehicles didn't wind up in consumers' hands before the end of the quarter.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Tesla noted an additional "4,650 vehicles were in transit to customers at the end of the quarter."

A closer look at the first-quarter numbers suggests that Tesla is slightly out of sync with the current U.S. market where demand for utility vehicles and other light trucks far exceeds that of conventional sedans and coupes. But Tesla has struggled with quality and production issues since launching the Model X more than a year ago. The carmaker did not disclose whether that remains a factor in why the Model S sedan remains its best-selling product line.

The decision to launch the Model 3 as Tesla's first mainstream offering was made several years ago, before the latest surge in utility vehicle demand. CEO Musk late last month revealed the automaker will respond to shifting consumer tastes by adding the Model Y, a utility vehicle sharing the same platform as the Model 3 sedan. But, in a tweet last week, Musk also cautioned it will be a "few years" before that electric SUV is ready.

Read the full story on NBC News.

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