Tesla's First Quarter Deliveries Tumble As Musk Struggles To Expand Into China

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Tesla's stock plummeted by 10 percent on Thursday morning after the company announced deliveries for the first quarter of the year had dropped by 30 percent. The automaker declined, however, to specify the nature of the challenges or how it plans to catch up - on the heels of its long-promised $35,000 Model 3 and the announcement of the new Model Y crossover.

It made produced 77,100 cars but said that due shipping to Europe and China for the first time, delivery rates across the United States were stunted.

This quarter-to-quarter drop in sales at Tesla breaks an nearly two year growth streak and threatens Tesla's growth narrative, valuation and its ability to service its debt.

Musk had himself an eventful weekend on Twitter, as he was busy tweeting about Duck emojis and Tesla's semi-automatic trucks in between the release of his new ape-inspired rap track.

Tesla said it still expects to deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles this year. This seems like an absurd april fools joke, but somehow it's not. The tweet is the subject of the contempt hearing because Musk is required to obtain preapproval for any market-moving messages.

Musk had surprised investors in August by tweeting that he was considering taking Tesla private at $US420 ($A590) per share and had funding secured.

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After pulling out all the stops to deliver a record 90,700 cars last quarter, Tesla delivered just 63,000 cars this quarter.

Tesla attributed the production decline to the cancellation of lower-priced versions of the Models S and X, a move the company said was created to differentiate the more expensive vehicles from the Model 3.

In the quarter, Tesla delivered 50,900 Model 3s, the linchpin of its growth strategy, falling short of analysts' estimates of 58,900, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Tesla shares dropped below the $270 mark this week, Wall Street is now focusing closely on the $250 figure which Tesla shares have not closed below since March 2017.

Tesla had warned shareholders that first-quarter deliveries of the pricier Model S sedan and Model X sport utility vehicle probably would be lower than a year ago because customers rushed to buy in time for the full US$7,500 incentive.

Several Wall Street analysts cut their delivery estimates as the quarter came to an end, citing the tax credit and delays in overseas shipments.

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