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Tesla Lookback - One Year Since Model 3 Launched What Has Changed For the Better & the Worse

The first Tesla Model 3 cars were delivered a year ago. We look back at Tesla's year including stock performance, business volume, Model 3 launch, and much more.

One year ago (on July 29th, 2017) Tesla delivered its first Model 3 cars to new owners. A lot has happened with Tesla in this first year of Model 3 sales. We take a look back and hit some of the highlights with a focus on how the company has changed since the Model 3 arrived.

Tesla Stock 1 yearTesla 10% Stock Price Decline In One Year
Tesla's stock has declined in value by 10% in the past year. Of course, there have been ups and downs, but a year ago the stock price was at about $336 ($335.50 at the end of the first trading day after Model 3 launched) and as of today at the end of trading it was at $302. If the Model 3 has done anything to help Tesla's stock price it is not apparent from a one-year lookback. Just for comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 15% in the same period that Tesla dropped 10%. GM's stock is up 10% in the same period. Toyota stock is up 17% in the same period.

Tesla Model 3 deliveries vs promisesTesla Model 3 Deliveries - Promised vs. Actual
When the Model 3 was launched, Elon Musk told fans, reservation holders, and investors that the by the end of December the company would be producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week. We took that promise to mean on average, every week by that point in time and from there forward. This was a promise Elon Musk didn't keep, and has not yet kept. By now, using Musk's original promises, Tesla should have delivered about 150,000 Model 3 cars to new owners. Instead, Tesla has delivered about 45,000 Model 3 cars. About 1/3 of what was expected and promised. This past month Tesla loudly proclaimed it had finally met its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 cars in one week. But it was just one week. Tesla only built about 250 cars in the other three weeks and Model 3 deliveries actually dropped in June compared to May.

Tesla Model 3 Pricing - The Big Lie
Of all Tesla's fibs, misunderstandings, and exaggerations, perhaps the worst lie of all is the price of the Model 3. Elon Musk told anyone who would listen, as often as they would tolerate hearing it, that the Model 3 would be "mainstream" and would start at $35K. The bait and switch continues. There is no $35K Tesla Model 3, there never was, and none are scheduled to be built. The next trim coming has a price of about $84K when fully equipped. Tesla is an automaker for the wealthy who builds low volume luxury vehicles. A year after the Model 3 entered the market that has become more clear, not less.

Elon Musk - Sex, Lies, and Videotape
During the worst of the Tesla Model 3 launch fiasco, Elon Musk told the world he was sleeping on the Gigafactory floor. In other words, he was focusing on the Model 3 launch. However, just a few weeks later, with no measurable improvement in Model 3 sales, his own twitter feed showed him hard at work on Space X and dancing in New York.

Tesla Huge Layoffs and Executives Flee
Tesla laid off 9% of its workforce in one day. This was the second big layoff in a year. Turnover of executives at Tesla is almost shocking.

Elon Musk Refers To Rescue Hero As a "Pedo" - Offers to Save Flint
Looking hard for a win, Elon Musk became wrapped up in the rescue of a team of boys in trouble a world away. He sent a machine to help, that wasn't used, and when those who did get results and who did offer useful help criticized him, Musk called the man a "pedo" as in pedophile. Twice. In writing on twitter. Shortly after Musk offered to help the people of Flint with their water crisis. Which had been brought under control before the Model 3 launch.

Tesla Model 3 Reservations Drop By 23%
In June, it was revealed by Second Source that Tesla Model 3 reservations had dropped by double digits after the delays. Are reservations still robust? Yes. Are cancellations ever a good thing? No.

Tesla, Inc - Cash Crisis
The news today, less than 100 hours form the anniversary of the Model 3's first deliveries, is that Tesla's cash crunch is so severe Tesla is asking its suppliers to refund them some of the money they have been paid for their goods and services. One analyst called that "alarming." Tesla's bonds are now trading at 90 cents on the dollar. Tesla's debt has reached double-digit billions.

Tesla Year In Review
Draw your own conclusions about how the Model 3 has changed Tesla. If this past year has been good for Tesla it is hard to see it in objective metrics like Tesla's stock price, its balance sheet, and its deliveries. If Tesla's corporate reputation or Elon Musk's as a CEO has improved it's hard to find the evidence.

Tesla 1-year stock price information courtesy of Google and NASDAQ


DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 23, 2018 - 8:10PM

You paint a consistent picture of doom for Tesla John, but I do not buy it. Sure, they are off to a rocky start. But just now the preorder sales are getting traction from Model 3 production which will bring in cash to keep everything moving forward. You can of course view everything with Tesla as a series of failures, but I see their progress as doing fine overall. Not flawless to be sure, but Tesla is easily the best supporter of pure electric cars in the world at the moment, and their effect on the rest of the world's automakers is profound. So many conventional (read gas/diesel) automakers are now rushing to produce their own "Tesla killer", whereas only 10 years ago, many of them had no serious plans to build any electric or hybrid cars whatsoever. 10 years ago it was a foregone conclusion that starting up a new electric car company in a world dominated by petroleum vehicles would be an uphill battle, with a slim chance of success. But despite difficulties, they keep moving forward, steadily improving their processes and products. I for one won't pronounce them as dead or dying just as they are now turning a corner towards success.

John Goreham    July 24, 2018 - 11:54AM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

I want you to be right Dean. I am not rooting for Tesla to fail, just laying out the story as I see it unfolding (and using so many green links to other sources the page looks like a Christmas theme). One thing is for sure, many luxury brands are trying to catch Tesla's luxury EV offerings. However, in fairness, this story is about the Model 3's first year. We were promised an "affordable" BEV starting at $35K and we didn't get it. GM and Nissan have had affordable EREVs and BEVs on sale in the US since 2010. Toyota has had affordable PHEVs on sale since 2012. It's Tesla who is behind with regard to EVs that most Americans can afford. That didn't change this year.

DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 24, 2018 - 1:37PM

I am surprised to see you say that you hope that Tesla succeeds, because in all of your links and ALL of your articles you only mention negative things about Tesla. It could be that you are seeing several only-positive articles about Tesla online, and you feel that the opposing viewpoint needs to be heard. But your links show that there are many others who also ONLY recognize Tesla's failures. Admittedly, I have voted with my pocketbook for GM's electric cars, leasing two Volts, then buying a Volt, and later a Cadillac ELR. I don't own a Tesla (or stock). Chevy's Bolt hits that target of being reasonably affordable while having 200+ miles of range, and as you say there are many lower cost PHEVs available. But despite Tesla's promotion to sell a $35K BEV, they are starting with their higher priced models as the demand is high and selling WELL at that price, and over time we will see if volume production brings the price down, and if they eventually get down to that $35K price after they have sold a ton of them at the higher price that buyers are paying today. It could be seen (as you imply) that the Model 3 is a failure because they didn't produce the entry level $35K model that they promised, but it is also a success being considerably less expensive than the Model S, and by rough estimates over 50,000 Model 3s have been built and sold so far. Chevy sold 28,000 Bolts last year, but part of that volume was limited by their own restrictions, and they are now increasing production to meet demand. So Model 3 production could be viewed objectively as a mixed success, with costs higher, and production lower than Musk's aggressive goals, but also with actual sales outstripping all other BEV manufacturers offering cars with this price, features, and EV range.

John Goreham    July 24, 2018 - 3:19PM

In reply to by DeanMcManis (not verified)

In my opinion, the Cadillac ELR is one of the best looking vehicles ever produced. I'm jealous. Can you send me a link to the source for the 50K Tesla Model 3s having been built and sold so far? We know the amount from the first day of deliveries through the end of June. It was about 26,139. You think that Tesla has about doubled its delivered Model 3 cars in the past 23 days? That would be a great story I'd love to report on. Here's my Tesla deliveries source:

DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 24, 2018 - 4:25PM

Yeah, I really like my ELR, and the more that I drive it the more impressed with Cadillac's design using the Voltec powertrain. Unfortunately, the ELR is a textbook example of how quickly you can kill a car with improper pricing. But it makes for a great deal as a used car. For the Model 3 production volume I used Bloomberg's Model 3 Tracker, which is based on the reserved Model 3 VINs, cross referenced with user posted VINs. It is not definitive but it seems to be a fairly accurate estimate.