Tesla inventory, order backlog data signal a worrying demand picture

Despite blowout delivery numbers for Q2, new data may be pointing to a demand problem for Tesla (TSLA).

Last month Tesla data tracker Matt Jung revealed that new Tesla inventory has been coming down recently in the US, as compared to April when data showed inventory hitting a record high. Jung’s report pulls historical data on the total number of new Tesla vehicle listings (Model S, 3, X, Y) available in the US on Tesla’s website.

It now seems the trend of decreasing inventories has reversed itself. After Jung’s data showed a dip in inventory to a low of 846 on June 26, a subsequent large build-up followed, hitting 2,757 by July 19. A large buildup in inventory suggests Tesla is upping its production volumes or is having a harder time selling new inventory.

Tesla US inventory data broken down by model (credit: Matt Jung)With July being the start of the new quarter, Tesla doesn’t necessarily offer incentives or sales tools of that nature to move inventory as the company would at the end of the quarter, but nonetheless the build in new vehicle stock is notable. Looking across the product offerings, from early June until mid-July the biggest builds in inventory appear to be of the more expensive Model X and Model S vehicles, but unsold stock of the cheaper Model 3 and Model Y is rising as well.

Conversely, and perhaps not surprisingly, another data source that tracks Tesla’s order backlog is showing a similar trend. Tesla sales tracker Troy Teslike (as first noted by InsideEVs) finds that Tesla’s global order backlog fell to around 49,000 units as of June 30, which is around 17% less than what it was two weeks ago, and over 50% smaller than the 102K backlog seen on May 31.

Tesla's global order backlog (credit: Troy Teslike)Teslike’s numbers are based on “Tesla-related stats (production volume, average wait times for each model/trim)” that the site has been collecting for several years. The numbers suggest Tesla’s US order backlog stood at 11 days at the end of June, a dramatic decrease from the 27 days noted in mid-May. The order backlog in days relates to the wait time a customer can expect when placing a new, custom order.

Rising inventories and decreasing backlog of orders signal the effect of Tesla’s deep price cuts combined with federal EV tax credits that fueled the company’s Q2 deliveries beat, may be waning as Q3 begins. With Tesla expected to report earnings after the bell on Wednesday, there had been expectations on the part of Wall Street analysts that the company would hit its margin “trough” in Q2, and that the effects of lower component costs and improvements in manufacturing scale would offset the price cuts from earlier in the year.

With demand seeming to slip, however, Tesla may have to resort to more price cuts to gin up demand or decrease output. With Tesla stock soaring of late, investors and analysts will be anxiously awaiting what Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk will have to say about this following the release of Q2 earnings.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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