Diarmuid O'Connel, vice president of business development, left, and Jerome Guillen, vice president, World-wide Sales and Service for Tesla. Tesla has a press conference at the North American International Auto Show at Cobo Center. (David Guralnick / The Detroit News)
Detroit —Tesla Motors said Tuesday it sold 6,900 Model S electric cars in the last three months of 2013 — 20 percent above the previous forecast.
“It’s pretty good results. We’re happy about that,” Tesla vice president of sales Jerome Guillen said at a press conference at the North American International Auto Show.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla had forecast just under 6,000 Model S sales in the fourth quarter. Tesla delivered about 22,400 Model S vehicles for all of 2013.
Guillen said the company is making progress on its next vehicle the EV SUV Model X, which is set to begin production late next year. Work is continuing “feverishly,” Guillen said. “We will be ready to grow.”
“Our biggest challenge continues to be recruiting,” Guillen said, saying the company plans to double its sales and service staff worldwide in 2014 as it expands production and sales.
He declined to say if Tesla is planning any structural reinforcements to the undercarriage of the Model S to prevent roadway debris from sparking fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been investigating two fires in the U.S. since November and Tesla has unveiled a software update that raises the vehicle in roadway driving to prevent damage.
“We’re always looking for ways to improve further,” Guillen said. “We do not stand still.”
Tesla is also working to expand its network of fast-charging superchargers to allow its EV owners to driver longer distances. Tesla plans a lower-cost EV three years from now — about half the price of its current model — after its Model X.
Investors sent Tesla stock soaring after the news, up 16 percent — to $161.19, up $21.85 a share, in extremely heavy trading. The news added $2.7 billion to the company’s nearly $20 billion market capitalization.