Don't Panic About the Thousands of Teslas Parked in a California Field

It’s happened before, and it will probably happen again.

Independent Tesla watchers discovered a field that’s filled with Tesla Model Ss, 3s and Xs – thousands of them. The cars are in Lathrop, California, nearly 60 miles away from the company’s main factory in Fremont.

Earlier this month, Tesla met its Model 3 production goal and Elon Musk used a term spectators had never heard before: “factory gate.” After Musk boasted of 7,000 cars built in 7 days, observers launched a search party for the newly minted Teslas. In the midst of liquidity concerns and a 4% stock price crash Monday, the discovery brought out Tesla cynics who hypothesized that either buyers are canceling their orders, or there’s a federal income tax credit limit efficiency.

We wondered, what exactly does “factory gate” mean? Sitting in an empty field? Or something bigger?

To find out, Orbital Insight sourced satellite imagery from its partners and developed an artificial intelligence algorithm to figure out what’s really going on in Lathrop. Our geospatial analytics showed that car counts in the industrial site leapt above 1,500 at the same time last year. In other words, even though the term “factory gate” is new to Tesla, sitting in this particular empty field is not.

The third-quarter 2018 build in Lathrop inventory is nearly identical to what happened during the same period last year, and the upward swing shows a strong correlation to Tesla’s publicly reported deliveries. From our analysis, it looks as though Tesla is not only on track to meet its production goals, but the company is also trying to time deliveries to ensure customers receive the pivotal $7,500 tax credit for electric vehicle purchases.

As of July 15, 2018, Orbital Insight pinpointed 1,671 Model 3 vehicles waiting in the inventory lots in Lathrop. Exactly one year ago, the same site housed 1,433 vehicles in that very same field. This falls in line with what Tesla has confirmed publicly: that Lathrop is used as a loading hub before new vehicles are delivered to their destinations.

How did Orbital Insight dig this up? We partner with satellite imagery providers to bring the most robust geospatial analytics commercially available in the market today. Using computer vision and machine learning, Orbital Insight applies its proprietary algorithms to capture views of objects in areas of interest – such as brand new Tesla Model 3s sitting in a field in Lathrop.

We’re an objective data provider that can not only tell you what’s happening today, but we can provide important historical context that’s not clear from one-off flyovers or independent observers on the ground. With Orbital Insight’s data, Tesla stockholders can make sound investment decisions and skip the hype.

Want to learn more about how to access our geospatial analytics? Contact for more information.