What Will Model 3 Numbers Be For Tesla's Most Important Quarter In Its History?

As the all-important third quarter draws to a close, and with Elon Musk's legal problems for now in the rearview mirror, everybody is scrambling to come up with an accurate estimate of the number of Model 3 vehicles that Tesla will have produced and delivered during a quarter that is supposed to push the company into profitability according to its CEO.

Sunday night marked the end of the third quarter and, with it, came an e-mail from Elon Musk to employees that seemed to indicate that the company was on the precipice of becoming profitable, but not quite there yet. Musk wrote in his email to employees:

“We are very close to achieving profitability and proving the naysayers wrong, but, to be certain, we must execute really well tomorrow (Sunday). If we go all out tomorrow, we will achieve an epic victory beyond all expectations.”

Though we're not sure how "epic" of a victory meeting your already disclosed guidance would qualify as, another important question relates to "expectations" for the company and its Model 3. Namely, what are they?

One of the most popular production tools to monitor Model 3 production has been the Bloomberg Model 3 tracker, which was introduced back in February of this year. It tracks the number of VIN registrations that Tesla makes in order to estimate the amount of vehicles that are being produced. This tracker currently estimates that Tesla will have made 53,457 Model 3s over the course of the quarter. This is slightly more than Wall Street estimates of 50,416 and in the middle of Musk's July estimate of 50,000 to 55,000.

All of these numbers fall short of the 5,000 vehicle per week milestone that was talked about all summer before seemingly becoming all but forgotten amid the latest legal fiasco.

Bloomberg said 94,192 Model 3 vehicles have been made since production started in July of last year. More than half of those came over the course of the last quarter, according to estimates. Bloomberg’s estimate amounts to 4,112 vehicles per week for the quarter.

But the Bloomberg tracker has its weak points. Because it goes by VIN registrations, it is subject to how and when Tesla decides to register VIN numbers. For instance, Tesla filed an enormous amount of registrations in the first two weeks of August: 29,609 of them to be exact. But it hasn’t filed any since then, leading the production tracker to fall off and leave everybody guessing.

Goldman Sachs thinks that this drop off could be because of bottlenecks at Tesla's paint shop. Others have guessed that it’s a product of the company delivering its "in transit" backlog that it had in place at the end of last quarter.

Here is a list of some predictions for the Model 3, from various sources, that we've compiled.

Then, early on Monday, electrek reported that Tesla had produced 53,000 Model 3s in the quarter. 

Of course, this "most important quarter" remains under intense scrutiny because Musk is expected to turn the company profitable and cash flow positive. The company is doing this by bringing all hands on deck – focusing on only the most expensive Model 3 versions, enlisting volunteer work from customers and generally redlining all of the resources at their disposal. The consensus is that if they can’t turn a profit this quarter, it may be difficult for them to turn a consistent profit ever.

The company is expected to report earnings at the end of this month, but it should also report total number of Model 3s produced early this week. Given that the company has dominated the financial media due to the SEC’s recent lawsuit against Elon Musk, we anticipate that the numbers Tesla reports this quarter may be the most examined and opined on in the company’s history.