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Tesla delivered record number of cars in 2020

By AFP - Jan 04,2021 - Last updated at Jan 04,2021

In this file photo Tesla CEO Elon Musk talks to media as he arrives to visit the construction site of the future US electric car giant Tesla in Gruenheide near Berlin on September 3, 2020 (AFP photo)

WASHINGTON — Tesla delivered a record number of cars in 2020, the company said, just narrowly missing its half a million target for the year.

The pioneering high-end electric vehicle maker delivered 180,570 cars to customers and produced 179,757 in the fourth quarter of the year, it said in a statement on Saturday.

Tesla's previous record was 139,300 vehicles delivered in the third quarter of 2020.

For the full year, Tesla delivered 499,550 cars to customers, just shy of its target of half a million, and produced 509,737 units.

The firm said its delivery count was conservative and that final numbers could vary by up to half a percentage point or more.

Tesla chief and co-founder Elon Musk hailed the figures as a "major milestone" for the firm.

"At the start of Tesla, I thought we had [optimistically] a 10% chance of surviving at all," the mercurial tech entrepreneur tweeted.

Tesla's entry-level Model 3 and its crossover Model Y accounted for nearly 86 per cent of deliveries, with the balance split between the luxury Model S sedan and the Model X SUV.

The company also said on Saturday that production of its Model Y had begun at its Chinese plant in Shanghai, with deliveries expected to begin shortly.

Tesla has long aimed to manufacture electric cars for the masses and in September Musk, the world's second richest person, said developments in battery technology meant the firm was looking at fielding a $25,000 model in around three years' time.

The company joined the prestigious Standard & Poor's 500 stock index on December 21.

Though its car production is modest compared with rivals, Tesla's growth prospects have spurred investors to push up its value so that it is now worth more than General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen combined.

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