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Questions bubble up about Tesla Model S sales numbers

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that releasing monthly sales numbers allows the media, " to read all sorts of nonsense into the deliveries." He said that with the company's irregular delivery schedule – 1,000 in a country one month, only a handful the next – the spikes and valleys would not give an accurate picture of the company's actual orders or demand. But, when there's no transparency, people will go looking for answers – or nonsense.

Daily Kanban found only 17,819 Model S EVs were registered between January and September 2014.

Case in point: Tesla Model S sales, which everyone wants to know about but no one is quite sure about. The best we can do is the quarterly delivery numbers that Tesla does release. For 2014, the official numbers released so far add up to 21,821 ( 1Q: 6,457, 2Q: 7,579, 3Q: 7,785). That's for the first three quarters, or from January through the end of September, and represents global deliveries. But Daily Kanban obtained global data for all sorts of electric cars from JATO and discovered that there were only 17,819 Model S EVs registered around the world between January and September 2014, a difference of 4,002. Previously, Daily Kanban quoted John Lovallo, a research analyst at Merrill Lynch, saying that Tesla might have around 3,000 Model S EVs, "in inventory or in transit," and is curious to know what's going on.

While this next comparison isn't perfect because the dates don't match up, we can take a look at sales of the Nissan Leaf to see how the official and JATO numbers compare. Nissan said in the middle of January 2014 that it sold a cumulative 100,000 Leafs and then announced towards the end of November that it had sold 150,000 total. JATO's numbers show that Nissan sold 44,897, globally, between January and September.

We certainly don't know if the different between JATO's number and the official Tesla figures represent a delay in how fast people register their cars or if something else is going on. We have asked Tesla for a comment and for more detailed sales numbers, but have not gotten a response. We do know that, while not ideal, monthly sales data can sometimes be quite helpful in figuring out what's going on in the industry.
TRANSLOGIC 113: 2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Information

Tesla Model S

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