Tesla’s numbers from China are starting to make a real difference

Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) delivery numbers from China are starting to make a real difference, and Wall Street seems to be waking up to the fact. After the release of the company’s blowout first quarter, which soundly beat expectations, several analysts have pointed at Tesla’s deliveries from its China operations as a key contributing factor behind the stellar Q1 results. 

China is the world’s largest automotive market, both for traditional cars and electric vehicles. But inasmuch as China’s EV sector has slowed down somewhat in recent years, auto sales are forecast to rise this year for the first time since 2017. In a statement in March, Premier Li Keqiang–who personally met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2019–announced that the Chinese government would help boost the number of EV charging stations and battery swapping facilities across the country. 

These initiatives should provide Tesla with even more momentum. Tesla, after all, is hard at work ramping vehicle production in Gigafactory Shanghai’s Phase 1 and Phase 2 areas, the facilities dedicated to producing the Model 3 and Model Y. These efforts seem to be bearing fruit, as reports indicate that both the Model 3 and Model Y factories in Gigafactory Shanghai are operating well, with the facility now being used to export vehicles to Europe. 

Jefferies noted in a research note that Tesla’s volume in the first quarter makes the EV maker stand out from the competition once more, especially amidst the ongoing chip crisis. The firm also stated that Tesla’s Giga Shanghai facility would likely account for a bigger share volume in the quarter, potentially even supporting profitability. “Shares should respond well to the Q1 delivery data,” Jefferies noted. 

Dan Ives of Wedbush, for his part, noted that the tide is turning despite the EV sector and TSLA shares being under pressure this year so far. “While the EV sector and Tesla shares have been under significant pressure so far this year, we believe the tide is turning on the Street, and the eye-popping delivery numbers coming out of China cannot be ignored,” Ives noted. 

Cowen & Co. analysts led by Jeffrey Osborne also cited China as a factor that is becoming more and more prominent in the Tesla story. This was highlighted by Tesla itself in its Q1 vehicle production and delivery report, where the company noted that the Model Y is seeing strong reception in China

“Receptivity to the Model Y in China was always a gray area in our minds, since there was never disclosure on deposit/interest levels from Tesla. Given the upside in 1Q21 coupled with the positive tone in the release, we are raising our Model Y forecasts for 2021 and would expect the Street to do so as well,” Osborne noted, adding that the company’s production figures for Q1 were pleasing, “suggesting that the lingering semiconductor shortage plaguing other auto OEMs is not affecting Tesla in a big way despite the two shutdowns at Fremont in February.”

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