Tesla claimed to have delivered 90,700 vehicles in their fourth quarter, short of Wall Street projections for the company. Analysts pegged Tesla to sell more than 96,000 vehicles as the fourth quarter ends.
Tesla boosted production during the quarter, churning out 86,555 vehicles, up 8 percent from 80,142 during the third quarter, the company said. Despite the increase, shareholders felt a certain unsteadiness as stock prices declined and investors expressed their disappointment over failed expectations to close out the year.
Tesla also revealed that most Model 3 sales were limited to the mid- and higher-price versions of the sedan and that most sales were to new customers.
The $2,000 cut in prices, however, weighed on the stock, pushing it down 9.4 percent to $301.69 in morning trade on a broadly weaker day for USA markets.
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Over the course of 2018, Tesla delivered a total of 245,240 vehicles, comprised of 145,846 Model 3, as well as 99,394 Model S and Model X. The company notes in its report that its deliveries in 2018 are nearly equal to its total deliveries in all prior years combined. On Jan. 1 the federal credit for Tesla buyers dropped from $7,500 to $3,750.
"Longer term we think the price cut is more concerning - it suggests Tesla customers are perhaps a bit more price sensitive than you might have thought", Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Nicholas Hyett write in a client note.
'The price cut is what's driving the stock lower, as it openly acknowledges the sunset of subsidy dollars is a material headwind, ' Craig Irwin, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners. Tesla had previously stoked investor optimism by claiming that improvements in efficiency had reduced the number of labor hours needed to build the Model 3 by 30 percent. Shares were last down 7.8% at $306.97.
The 63 150 Model 3s Tesla handed over to customers in the fourth quarter trailed the roughly 63 700 average analyst estimate.
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To soften the blow of their cars' high price tags, Tesla has always offered federal EV tax credits to United States residents; usually amounting to around $7500 in total savings.
Tesla's Q4 production numbers are comprised of 61,394 Model 3 vehicles, in line with the company's guidance and 15% more than its already notable figures in the third quarter.
Musk now plans to turn attention to filling Model 3 orders in Europe and China starting in February, which could help offset some of the potential drop in USA demand linked to the shrinking tax credit.
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