Despite 'difficult circumstances' described by Elon Musk, is demand holding for Tesla's cars?
While the pandemic has hurt the auto industry, the outlook for electric vehicles appears to be positive. If you caught any of Tesla's Battery Day, it appears the Silicon Valley Automaker is ramping up efforts to handle an influx of demand for its growing fleet of electric cars. Other automakers are beginning to sell EVs more steadily (especially in Europe) and more EV models are being introduced.
Above: Tesla's forthcoming electric vehicles are showcased at the company's recent Battery Day event (Twitter: Elon Musk)
Before looking at forecasts for this year, let's pull the lens back a bit and look at the next 5, 10, and 15 year time frames. OilPrice.com reported on new research from Wood Mackenzie discussing the world's need for 800,000 new tons of lithium production by 2025 which "brings electric vehicle (EV) uptake forward by ten years and sees EVs make up around 40% of passenger car sales by 2030."
In turn, Motley Fool notes that this report, "considerably accelerates the demand for batteries and the raw materials that go into them... It also suggests that Tesla's sales over the next five years could be a whole lot stronger than investors had been anticipating." News of California's historic ban of gasoline-powered cars by 2035 is sure to accelerate this trend.
While the future looks upbeat for Tesla and EVs in general, there are more positive signs on the horizon for the upcoming year. Originally spotted by Twitter's Ray4Tesla, a document published online by Chinese Tesla supplier Aotecar reveals that the U.S. electric vehicle automaker has ordered 450,000 heat pumps for its Model Y and Model 3 cars.
Above: Ark Investments analyst Tasha Keeney recaps her views on how Tesla's Battery Day could impact the company's future (YouTube: Bloomberg Technology)
An increase in parts orders may (likely) indicate strong demand. But there's another intriguing indicator that was addressed recently by Goldman Sachs. Business Insider reports that Goldman Sachs (citing data from Sensor Tower) noted global Tesla app downloads "have recently been tracking up on a YOY basis." And a recent full week of global data shows Tesla app downloads are up about 20% year-over-year.
Could third-party research reports, government mandates, parts orders, and app downloads give us any gauge in demand for Tesla's cars? Or are we just reading the "tea leaves" in hopes of getting some insight into vehicle sales for the EV maker? Whatever credibility you assign to these indicators, Tesla's CEO recently gave his own two cents on 2020.
According to Bloomberg, Tesla has said (previously) that it is expected to deliver 500,000 vehicles this year, up about 36% from 2019. During Battery Day, Elon Musk weighed in on the company's outlook. “While the rest of the industry has gone down, Tesla has gone up,” Musk said. “We’ll do really pretty well in 2020, probably somewhere between 30-40% growth despite a lot of very difficult circumstances, so many: pandemic, wildfires, a whole bunch of difficult production issues.”