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Tesla Falls Just Shy of 500,000 Delivery Target After Record Fourth Quarter

Tesla capped one of the most extraordinary years on record for any American company with 2020 delivery totals nearing 500,000 thanks in part to a surge in demand for its Model 3 sedan in China.

Tesla Inc.  (TSLA) - Get Free Report met its 2020 goal of producing at least half a million cars,  the company said Saturday, but narrowly missed its aggressive delivery target following a record year fueled by China demand for its Model 3 sedan.

Tesla delivered 180,570 of its Model S/X and Model 3/Y sedans over the three months ending in December, a 61.2% increase from the same period last year that brings its year-end  total to 499,550. Tesla's year-end production total was pegged at 509,737 vehicles, the company said, after a 71.4% increase in fourth quarter figures to a record 179,757.

Tesla said it delivered 442,511 Model 3/Ys over the 2020 year, alongside 57,039 for its Model S/X sedan. Production figures for each were 454,932 and 54,805 units respectively.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said earlier this month that the 500,000 delivery target was "not even on the map for the Street going back to the late spring/summer timeframe," and forecasts deliveries of as high as 710,000 for the current year, a 40% growth rate that would "put Tesla on a strong growth trajectory into 2022."

"Clearly, competition is increasing across the board on the EV front with a slew of domestic players in China, Europe, and the US going after Tesla's core EV stronghold, although we believe the market is growing at a brisk rate that will yield multiple winners going after the EV jackpot," Ives argued.

Tesla shares closed at $705.67 each on Thursday December 31, an all-time high that lifted its year-to-date gain to a staggering 743.4% and pegged its market value at $669 billion.

Tesla entered the S&P 500 on December 21 as the benchmark's fifth-largest stock and a market value of $650 billion, capping a record year for the clean energy carmaker that has added more than half a trillion dollars to its market value.

Tesla was the biggest inclusion to the S&P 500 on record, sitting just ahead of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway undefined and around $200 billion below Facebook  (FB) - Get Free Report on the main U.S. benchmark.