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Tesla ships 63,000 vehicles in Q1, missing expectations

CNBC logo CNBC 4/4/2019 Robert Ferris
a person in a red car on display: Tesla Model 3 is being displayed for the press members ahead of 97th Brussels Motor Show at Brussels Expo Center in Brussels, Belgium on January 19, 2019.© Provided by CNBC LLC Tesla Model 3 is being displayed for the press members ahead of 97th Brussels Motor Show at Brussels Expo Center in Brussels, Belgium on January 19, 2019.

Tesla on Wednesday announced it delivered about 63,000 cars in Q1, below analysts' expectations of 76,000 deliveries. It also said it produced approximately 77,100 cars during the quarter.

The company says it produced 62,950 of its new Model 3 vehicles and 14,150 Model S and X cars. It delivered approximately 50,900 Model 3s and 12,100 Model S and X vehicles.

Analysts were expecting the carmaker to deliver 76,000 vehicles during the first quarter, down from 90,700 deliveries in the fourth quarter last year, according to average analysts' estimates compiled by FactSet.

Tesla shares barely budged on the news.

Investors expected demand for Tesla's electric vehicles to slide during the first quarter as buyers of its energy efficient cars lost some key federal tax credits and the company faced falling demand for its luxury lineup.

"We do not find this slowdown in U.S. demand to be totally surprising or alarming," Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi told investors in a research note Friday. He noted that Tesla's most expensive Model 3s accounted for "an extraordinary" 33 percent of all sales of sedans priced between $40,000 and $60,000 in the second half of 2018. The average selling price for a Model 3 sedan, Tesla's most popular vehicle, was $57,000 last year, according to data compiled by FactSet.

"In retrospect, this was likely unsustainable, and reflected one-time tailwinds such as pent-up consumer demand and the pull-forward from the EV tax credit," Sacconaghi said.

The first quarter also reflects demand for Tesla electric vehicles without the full $7,500 federal tax credit used to gin up demand for energy efficient cars. The credit for Tesla buyers was halved to $3,750 beginning Jan. 1.

CEO Elon Musk has attempted to stoke demand by releasing the long-awaited $35,000 Model 3, Tesla's cheapest car, and generate more interest in the company by unveiling another highly anticipated vehicle — Tesla's Model Y crossover utility on March 14. Two of the three vehicles Tesla currently sells are sedans, which have fallen out of favor with customers who increasingly prefer crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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