Tesla posts first global sales decline since 2020, but reclaims electric-car lead from BYD - SUV VEHICLE

Tesla posts first global sales decline since 2020, but reclaims electric-car lead from BYD


Tesla has reported its largest year-on-year drop in quarterly deliveries in 12 years amid production slowdowns, shipping delays and an arson attack at one of its factories – plus a global downturn in electric-car sales.

Global quarterly deliveries of Tesla vehicles have declined for the first time since mid-2020 amid a market-wide slowdown in demand for new cars.

However it reclaimed the lead in the global electric-car sales race from BYD – based on deliveries in three-month periods of the year (quarters) – after the Chinese car giant claimed its maiden first-place finish in the fourth quarter of 2023 (October to December).

In the first quarter of 2024 (January to March), Tesla reported 433,371 new vehicles as produced, and 386,810 as delivered – down 1.7 per cent, and 8.5 per cent respectively on the first quarter of 2023.

It is the first year-on-year quarterly sales decline for Tesla since the second quarter of 2020 (April to June), when the new-car market slowed during the initial coronavirus outbreak.

It is also the largest decline in deliveries since the second quarter of 2012, when only about 100 vehicles were delivered – mostly Roadsters, sales of which halved year-on-year, and the first Model S sedans were trickling off the production line.

“Decline in volumes was partially due to the early phase of the production ramp of the updated Model 3 at our Fremont factory and factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict and an arson attack at Gigafactory Berlin,” Tesla said in a media statement overnight.

Meanwhile BYD reported 291,730 electric passenger vehicle deliveries in the first quarter of 2024, up 10 per cent on the same period in 2023, but down 45 per cent on its record 526,409 deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023.

While BYD held the global electric-car sales crown in the fourth quarter of 2023, Tesla was number-one across calendar-year 2023.

In addition to Tesla’s production challenges, industry analysts attribute the decline in Tesla sales to an oncoming global slowdown in the electric-car market, after the height of demand in the wake of the pandemic.

Tesla has continued to roll out aggressive price cuts to counter slowing demand – due in part to rising interest rates – however it appears they are no longer enough to balance out the market.

The ‘cost of goods sold’ – the business term referencing the average cost to Tesla of building, shipping and delivering each vehicle, rather than the final sales price – has decreased from $US39,500 ($AU60,800) in the fourth quarter of 2022, to about $US36,300 ($AU55,900) a year later.

The tally of 386,810 deliveries reported by Tesla is well down on estimates which forecast about 450,000 vehicles leaving showrooms.

Australian sales data for Tesla and BYD is due to be published in the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI)’s VFACTS report tomorrow, 4 April 2024.

Tesla has confirmed it will cease reporting its sales data to VFACTS after June 2024 – as it is leaving the FCAI – though it may continue to report sales data through another channel.

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Alex Misoyannis

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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