September 27, 2023

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Tesla car sales are growing slower than expected, amplifying concerns

Tesla said Monday that deliveries in the last three months of the year were up 18 percent from the previous quarter, disappointing Wall Street analysts and piling pressure on Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, to focus on the auto industry rather than fixing Twitter.

Tesla said it Delivered 405,000 electric vehicles from October through December. Wall Street analysts expected Tesla to sell about 420,000 vehicles, up from 343,000 in the third quarter.

The company sold a total of 1.3 million vehicles in 2022, up 40 percent from the previous year. This was less than the 50 percent annual growth target that Tesla had set for itself.

While the increases were impressive by auto industry standards, Tesla has become the world’s most valuable automaker by growing at the explosive rates commonly associated with Silicon Valley technology companies.

In recent months, Tesla has seemed vulnerable to competition from established automakers and rising borrowing rates that have made its electric cars more affordable for people to borrow. Evidence that Tesla is mortal contributed to a 65 percent A slump in Tesla stocks in 2022 has led investors to focus more on traditional measures like sales and profits rather than dreams of world domination.

Fourth-quarter sales were lower than expected by analysts, who had already lowered their forecasts, and lower than what Tesla executives suggested just a few months ago. Tesla said it produced 440,000 vehicles during the quarter, 34,000 more than it delivered, suggesting that supply chain issues and production problems were not the main explanation for the disappointing sales.

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Martin Ficha, Tesla’s head of investor relations, said on Twitter that the gap between deliveries and production reflects vehicles passing on to customers.

There was no trading in New York on Monday due to the New Years holiday. But the numbers will likely reinforce investor concerns that Musk is focusing too much on Twitter, which he acquired in October.

“There’s no way to smooth this out,” Gary Black, managing director of the Future Fund, an investment fund, said. he said on Twitter. He expected analysts to lower their estimates for Tesla’s sales and profits in 2023. Tesla will report 2022 earnings on January 25th.

Last week, Mr. Musk tried to reassure Tesla employees, telling them not to focus on the share price and repeating assurances that the automaker would become the most valuable company in the world, Reuters reported.

China, the world’s largest auto market, is a major focus of investor concerns. The sharp rise in Covid cases in China has weighed on demand and forced the company to periodically suspend production at its largest factory, in Shanghai.

In addition, Chinese manufacturer BYD has overtaken Tesla in electric vehicle sales in China, casting further doubts about Mr. Musk’s ability to achieve world dominance in the auto industry.

Tesla sales growth exceeds any major competitor in percentage terms. The company is also among the most profitable automakers in the world and is ramping up new plants in Texas and Germany.

But the company faces stiffer competition from traditional automakers such as Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen. These companies have decades of experience mass-producing cars cheaply, and some investors believe these automakers can catch up to Tesla more quickly than expected.

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Tesla is also facing slowing consumer demand, due in part to higher interest rates. Wait times for Tesla models have shrunk, and the company has lowered car prices in China and offered incentives for buyers in the United States.

Car buyers, especially left-leaning, green-aware consumers who tend to buy electric cars, also seem to be turning away from Tesla because of Mr. Musk. His erratic behavior on Twitter and his heated speech on the social media platform have caused this to happen I like it for conservatives And the Silicon Valley executives But he angered others.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who implored Mr. Musk to focus his energy on Tesla, said deliveries in the fourth quarter were good given the tough economic environment. “We think this was a relatively good performance,” Mr. Ives said on Twitter.

Tesla’s sales could get a boost now that its cars are eligible Federal incentives On January 1st. A new law eliminated a limit on the number of vehicles from any one manufacturer that qualifies for tax credits of up to $7,500. Tesla has exhausted its quota.

Tesla vehicles made at the company’s plants in Texas and California also meet requirements that vehicles must be built in the United States, Canada or Mexico to be eligible for credits.

Mr. Musk, a prolific user of Twitter, did not immediately react to Monday’s delivery numbers. On Sunday, he wished his followers “a great day 1 2023,” adding, “One thing is for sure, it won’t be boring.”