Tesla deliveries miss estimates due to logistical issues, slowing demand

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla electric vehicle at the Auto Shanghai show in Shanghai, China

By Akash Sriram and Baranjot Kaur

(Reuters) -Tesla Inc said quarterly deliveries fell short of market estimates on Monday, held back by ongoing logistical issues and growing demand concerns that rounded off a tumultuous 2022 for the Elon Musk-led firm.

The company is still the world's most valuable automaker even after losing 65% of its market value in 2022. Shares fell 8.5% to $112 on Tuesday.

Tesla delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, short of analysts' estimates of 431,117, according to Refinitiv. For all of 2022, the electric-vehicle maker's deliveries rose by 40%, missing Musk's 50% annual target.

"We believe Tesla is facing a significant demand problem ... many investors underestimate the magnitude of the demand challenges Tesla is facing," Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi said.

The shortfall also highlighted the logistics hurdles facing a company known for its end-of-quarter delivery rush, with the gap between production and deliveries widening to 34,000 vehicles as more cars got stuck in transit.

Tesla also plans to run a reduced production schedule in January at its Shanghai plant, extending the lowered output it began in December into 2023, Reuters has reported.

Tesla has tried up prop up demand with a rare set of discounts on its top-selling vehicles as competition deepens from legacy automakers such as Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co and startups such as Rivian Automotive Inc and Lucid Group Inc.

"Tesla's previous gains have been based on delivering super-charged growth. Without that it looks (like) a different proposition," said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Sacconaghi said demand challenges will persist in 2023 as most Tesla models do not qualify for a tax rebate and the company would need to either reduce its growth targets or cut prices.

The company, which has some of the highest margins in the industry, will report quarterly results on Jan. 25.

The fourth-quarter deliveries consisted of 388,131 Model 3 compact sedans and Model Y sports utility vehicles (SUVs), compared with 17,147 Model X and Model S luxury cars.

Production came in at 439,701 vehicles.

Tesla said in a separate statement on Monday it plans to host its Investor Day on March 1 and will likely discuss long-term plans for expansion and capital allocation at the event that will be held at its Texas Gigafactory.

The automaker also hinted at a "generation 3" platform that could be shown to investors at the event. Musk said in October that Tesla was working on a "next-generation vehicle" which will be cheaper and smaller than the Model 3 and Model Y cars.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram, Baranjot Kaur, Nivedita Balu and Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Akanksha Khushi; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Matthew Lewis, Howard Goller, Barbara Lewis and Shounak Dasgupta)