SAN FRANCISCO -- Tesla Motors Inc. said last week it expects to deliver 33,000 units of the Model S sedan in 2014, a 50 percent increase over 2013, due to the completion of assembly-line upgrades at its Fremont, Calif., factory this summer.
That is about 2,000 cars below the electric-vehicle maker's original target, which the company attributed to snags in starting production of cars with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system and "autopilot" features.
Meanwhile, Tesla will delay the first deliveries of its Model X crossover until the third quarter of 2015 to ensure it will "delight customers," the company said as it reported third-quarter earnings.
Tesla is targeting an annualized production rate of 100,000 vehicles by the end of 2015, after assembly of the Model X begins. For comparison, Lincoln sold 81,694 vehicles in 2013 in the United States.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk told analysts he expects orders and deliveries of the Model S to increase by 50 percent in both 2015 and 2016, as he continued to push back against a recent report in The Wall Street Journal that suggested demand for the Model S is cooling.
"There are a whole bunch of things we could do to stimulate demand if that were our problem," Musk said, pointing to the company's lack of paid advertising. "That is not our problem."
The company's challenge, he said, is manufacturing constraints. And in a letter to shareholders released last week, Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja wrote that it would be "legitimate" to criticize the delayed start of Model X deliveries.
Tesla is now testing early prototypes of the three-row crossover, which sports "falcon-wing" doors and a second-row that slides all the way forward to allow for easier access to the third row of seats.
The Model X, first unveiled as a concept in early 2012, uses the dual-motor awd system that Tesla started offering in the Model S this fall.
"We prefer to forgo revenue, rather than bring a product to market that does not delight customers," the two executives wrote. "Doing so negatively affects the short term but positively affects the long term."
Tesla posted a net loss of $74.7 million in the third quarter. Revenue during the period nearly doubled to $851.8 million, from $431.3 million. The company lost $38.5 million in the third quarter of 2013.
The company had $2.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents at the end of the latest quarter.