Electric car company Tesla Motors said it delivered 17,400 vehicles in the October to December quarter, which was at the low end of its 17,000 to 19,000 delivery target for the quarter. That brings its sales for the whole year to 50,580.   

Tesla makes only two models: the Model S sedan (which sold a record 17,192 in the fourth quarter) and the long-delayed Model X crossover utility vehicle, which just started shipping in September.

Tesla said it delivered 208 Model X vehicles in the fourth quarter as it ramps up production of its seven-passenger SUV with its distinctive falcon-wing doors.

"Model X deliveries are in line with the very early stages on our Model X production ramp as we prioritize quality above all else," Tesla said in a statement releasing its delivery figures.

Priced for luxury market 

The California-based company says it's currently producing 238 Model X vehicles a week. The Model X starts at $80,000 US, compared to the Model S, which starts at about $72,000. Both models can cost more than $100K, depending on the battery type and options. That puts Tesla vehicles out of the range of most carbuyers.

Electric vehicles from other automakers cost much less: the Nissan Leaf, for instance, starts at about $32,000 Cdn and General Motors' Chevy Volt starts at about $38,000 Cdn.  Buyers of electric vehicles in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia can get provincial grants to help bring down those prices.  

Deliveries of Tesla's Model S were up 75 per cent from the same quarter a year earlier.

Looking ahead, Tesla aims to produce a more mass-market Model 3 (at an estimated price of $30,000 US to $40,000) by the end of 2017 and hopes to be selling about 500,000 cars a year by 2020.

Production like that would require a corresponding ramp-up in the production of lithium batteries. So Tesla is building a huge "gigafactory" in Nevada to produce them.