Tesla's China-made EV sales fall; German plant to idle over protest

file photo tesla gigafactory in gruenheide

BEIJING – U.S. automaker Tesla sold 62,167 China-made electric vehicles in April, down 18% from a year earlier, lagging the broader market’s surge, China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) data showed on Tuesday. 

Tesla shares fell 3.8% on Tuesday, amid concerns about softening demand for Tesla EVs and an intensifying price war, especially against Chinese rivals. Tesla’s China-made cars, which accounted for over half the automaker’s global deliveries last year, are also exported to various markets including Europe and the CPCA didn’t provide a breakdown of Tesla exports by destination. Tuesday’s numbers are a prelude of full data for April due out later this week.

Deliveries of China-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles slid 30.2% from March. The sharp slide contrasts with rising EV sales in the world’s largest auto market, albeit at the slowest pace in a year in the first quarter.

China’s new-energy vehicle sales including battery-powered EVs and plug-in hybrids were estimated to hit 800,000 units in April, up 33% on the year and a 2% drop from the month before, according to CPCA data.

Tesla’s biggest Chinese rival BYD, with its Dynasty and Ocean lineups of EVs and plug-in hybrids, sold 312,048 passenger vehicles in April, up 48.97% year-on-year and a 3.5% increase from March.

Tesla, led by its billionaire CEO Elon Musk, saw first-quarter global vehicle deliveries fall for the first time in nearly four years.

Tesla’s sales of China-made vehicles declined 4% during the January to March period, from a year earlier.
The company began the second quarter announcing layoffs of more than 10% of its global workforce and slashing vehicle prices in major markets including the United States, China and Europe.

Late April, Musk visited China and made progress towards rolling out Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance package in China, which may help it better compete with local rivals.

Gruenheide to be idled amidst protests

Tesla will shut down production in its German plant in Gruenheide for four days due to protests against its expansion plans, German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Tuesday.

The electric car manufacturer is sending all employees to work from home on Friday, according to an email seen by Handelsblatt that was sent to employees on Monday.

Thursday is a public holiday in Germany.

Production will end with the late shift on Wednesday and begin again with the night shift on Sunday, Handelsblatt said. Access to the factory will only be possible with manager approval.

Tesla was not immediately available to comment.

Tesla’s ambitions to expand its German plant hit a roadblock in February when citizens voted against a motion to raze trees and make way for the larger site.

Activists have announced several protests against Tesla’s expansion for the coming week, including a rally in front of the factory gates on Friday.

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