Musk: "The word 'recall' needs to be recalled"
2014 DETROIT AUTO SHOW

Tesla's global sales top 22,000 in 2013, stock rises 16%

Musk: "The word 'recall' needs to be recalled"

Tesla did not bring any new vehicles or prototypes to the 2014 Detroit auto show, though a spokeswoman said the company remains on track to begin production of the Model X, an SUV, by year end.

Photo credit: RYAN NAGORSEN
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DETROIT -- Tesla Motors Inc. today said it delivered about 22,300 of its Model S electric cars worldwide in 2013 -- news that sent its shares surging up by 16 percent.

The company also said "nearly all" of the Model S cars covered by a recall announced Monday already have received a wireless software update to prevent chargers from overheating. A notice posted Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said 29,222 cars in the United States are affected by the problem, which it said could lead to burn injuries or fires.

"While NHTSA may call this a recall, we call this modern technology," Jerome Guillen, Tesla's vice president of worldwide sales and service, said during the company's press conference today at the Detroit auto show. "We can make every car better over time without having to bring the car in."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk echoed Guillen's comments on his Twitter page this afternoon. "No Tesla vehicles are being physically recalled by Tesla," Musk wrote, later adding, "The word 'recall' needs to be recalled."

Tesla said it sold nearly 6,900 Model S cars in the fourth quarter, Guillen said, about 20 percent more than it had projected and 25 percent more than in the third quarter. In a statement, Tesla said it also expects its fourth-quarter revenue to exceed previous guidance by 20 percent.

"A higher than expected number of cars was manufactured as a result of an excellent effort by the Tesla production team and key suppliers, particularly Panasonic," the statement said.

Tesla shares spiked 16 percent to close today at $161.27.

Tesla did not say how many of its sales occurred in the United States. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Volt totaled 23,094 in 2013, and those of the Nissan Leaf were 22,610.

Guillen said the company expects to double its global sales and service in the year ahead, describing its plans for 2014 as "growth, growth and growth."

"On the sales and service side, which I'm responsible for, it's reckless growth," Guillen said. "It's how fast can we grow?"

He said the company is rapidly expanding its nationwide network of Supercharger stations as well, with seven sites opening last week and two opening today.

Tesla did not bring any new vehicles or prototypes to the Detroit auto show, though a spokeswoman said the company remains on track to begin production of the Model X, an SUV, by year end.

Tesla is taking reservations for the Model X, which it plans to begin delivering in the first half of next year.

Guillen gave no new details about Tesla's highly anticipated, more affordable third-generation vehicle, other than to say it will have a "practical" battery range that will allow drivers to "do what they want."

Despite this week's recall, Guillen said the Model S is one of the safest vehicles available. He said accidents involving Tesla vehicles have not resulted in any deaths or serious injuries, though he acknowledged that such a pristine safety record is unlikely to continue permanently as its customer base grows.

In addition to the software update, NHTSA said Tesla will mail owners a replacement adapter for their charger. The agency said owners can verify that they have received the update wirelessly on their vehicle's information screen. The update allows the charging system to automatically reduce the charging current by 25 percent if it detects any unexpected fluctuations in power or higher-resistance connections, NHTSA said.

You can reach Nick Bunkley at nbunkley@crain.com. -- Follow Nick on Twitter


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