Elon Musk is like a Greek hero to electric-car enthusiasts — but now he has fallen victim to “hubris.”
In a Monday press release, Tesla blamed its own “hubris in adding far too much new technology to the Model X” as it delivered fewer than expected cars during the first quarter.
Tesla — whose shares had been surging since last Thursday, when it dazzled customers with the unveiling of the new, lower-priced Model 3 sedan — admitted it shipped just 14,820 vehicles during the first quarter.
That total, which consisted of 12,420 Model S sedans and 2,400 Model X crossover SUVs, was well short of the 16,000 it had targeted three months ago.
Tesla’s late-Monday downer shocked investors, who had gotten giddy after Musk tweeted over the weekend that Model 3 orders had topped 276,000 through Saturday — leapfrogging past Tesla’s internal projections.
Shares, after surging 4 percent to $246.99 in the regular session Monday, gave back 2.4 percent in after-hours trades.
“The Q1 delivery count was impacted by severe Model X supplier parts shortages in January and February that lasted much longer than initially expected,” Tesla explained.
Admitting that Model X production got mucked up by fancy features including its “falcon-wing” doors, also Tesla blamed the shortfall on “insufficient supplier capability” and “Tesla not having broad enough internal capability to manufacture the parts in-house.”
Only a half-dozen out of 8,000 unique parts in the Model X were missing, Tesla said, “Nonetheless, missing even one part means a car cannot be delivered.”
On the bright side, Tesla reiterated it is on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 new vehicles in 2016, up from 50,580 in 2015. Delivery rates “improved dramatically” once Tesla got the parts, and it cranked out 750 Model X’s during the last week of March.
Tesla added that it will “ensure that these mistakes are not repeated with the Model 3 launch.”
Pre-orders for the Model 3 — which require a refundable deposit of $1,000 — were ahead of total 2015 sales of Audi (202,000) as well as GM’s Cadillac and Buick lines (175,000 and 223,000, respectively).
That’s also more cars than Ford sold in the US during the entire month of December (237,600), not to mention Toyota (238,000) and Honda (150,000).