Tesla’s sales in Europe fall to 15-month low

Elon Musk’s car maker an exception to wider industry

Tesla got off to a sluggish start to the second quarter in Europe, where chief executive Elon Musk was expecting a much better showing than the first few months of the year.

The carmaker registered just 13,951 vehicles in April, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said Wednesday, down 2.3 per cent from a year ago and its worst tally since January 2023. Tesla was an exception in an otherwise encouraging month for battery-electric vehicles, which rose 14 per cent industry-wide.

Tesla similarly reported a downturn in shipments from its Shanghai factory for the month, in contrast with strong growth for China’s broader plug-in car industry. Musk told investors on April 23 that the company expected to bounce back from several issues that affected production in the first quarter, including Red Sea shipping disruptions and the suspected arson of power lines near its German sport utility vehicle plant.

“We think Q2 will be a lot better,” Musk said during Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call.

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Countries including Germany and Sweden have ceased or dialled back EV subsidies in recent months, which has put a damper on Europe’s sales growth. Manufacturers including Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz have meanwhile been rethinking product plans, with VW preparing more plug-in hybrids and Mercedes keeping combustion cars in production well into the 2030s.

While most brands have struggled with the pullback of incentives in Germany – Europe’s biggest car market – Tesla underperformed peers last month. Overall EV registrations were broadly flat, whereas Tesla’s sales plunged 32 per cent.

In the UK, Tesla registrations fell 25 per cent in April and have slumped 14% in the first four months of the year. ---Bloomberg