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Tesla sales fall short of estimates in first drop since 2020

A Tesla Cybertruck is on display at Tesla in Buena Park, Calif. on Sunday Dec. 3, 2023.
Tesla sales fell short of estimates in the first three months of this year. Above: a Tesla Cybertruck.
(Richard Vogel / Associated Press)
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Tesla Inc. suffered its first year-over-year sales drop since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The electric carmaker handed over 386,810 vehicles in the first three months of 2024, the company said in a statement Tuesday. That fell so far short of analysts’ average estimate for 449,080 deliveries that it was its biggest miss ever.

Shares of Tesla fell 5.5% to $165.54 as of 9:33 a.m. (Eastern) in New York. The stock is down about 33% this year.

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Manhattan Beach EV maker Fisker Inc. said it was halting production of its snazzy Ocean SUV, seeking financing and a strategic partner in a further setback for car designer Henrik Fisker.

March 28, 2024

Wall Street had rapidly lowered projections for the Austin-based company’s deliveries as the first quarter came to a close, including some analysts who correctly predicted that the tally would come in below the 422,875 delivered a year ago.

Tesla pointed to the early production ramp of its updated Model 3 as a factor for the volume decline. It also cited “shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict” and an arson attack at its Berlin factory.

The bigger worry was consumer demand. High interest rates have kept some buyers on the sidelines and Tesla has warned investors that it is “between two growth waves.” In February, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk posted that “most people don’t love to buy cars in the middle of winter” as he offered a $1,000 incentive. Tesla has also begun experimenting with advertising and has gone to greater lengths to educate consumers about its lineup.

California electric vehicle sales dropped significantly in the last half of 2023, raising questions about the state’s ability to phase out gas-powered cars.

Feb. 15, 2024

Tesla doesn’t break out quarterly vehicle sales by region, but the U.S. and China have long been its largest markets. The company makes the Model S, X, 3 and Y in Fremont, Calif., and the Model 3 and Y in Shanghai. It also produces the Model Y at its plants in Austin and outside Berlin. The Model Y sport utility vehicle and Model 3 sedan accounted for 96% of deliveries in the fourth quarter.

Tesla expanded its offerings late last year with the introduction of the stainless steel-clad Cybertruck in the U.S. The company didn’t break out how many Cybertrucks it produced and delivered.

Despite the challenges, Tesla still managed to reclaim its title as the world’s largest EV seller after being surpassed by China’s BYD Co. at the end of last year. In the first quarter, BYD sold 300,114 battery-electric vehicles globally, the automaker said Monday. Including hybrids and other new-energy automobiles, the Chinese company sold 626,263 units during the period.

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