Tesla triples deliveries of electric cars but share price tumbles

Tesla more than tripled deliveries of its electric cars in the last three months of the year but the news was not enough for Wall Street, which sent the company’s shares into a tailspin following news that sales of its first mass market vehicle were less than expected.

Elon Musk’s car company delivered a total of 90,700 vehicles in the fourth quarter, up from 29,870 a year earlier. But deliveries of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla’s cheapest vehicle, were less than expected. The company announced it had delivered 63,150 vehicles in the quarter, up from 1,550 in the same period last year but below the 64,900 nine analysts surveyed by Factset had been expecting. A Tesla spokesperson said that its deliveries were roughly in line with a wider survey of Wall Street’s estimates.

The company also fell just short of its promise to deliver 100,000 Model S and Model X vehicles during the year. Tesla delivered 13,500 Model Ss and 14,050 Model Xs in the fourth quarter, raising the total for the year to 99,394 compared with about 100,000 in 2017.

Tesla’s shares sank heavily in morning trading, falling over 9% when markets opened. The slide was not helped by an overall fall in the US stock markets.

The company also announced on Wednesday that it was cutting the price of its Model S, Model X and Model 3 vehicles by $2,000 in the US. The move will partly offset the expiration of a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicle purchases that will be phased out this year.

Musk made an all-out push to boost sales of the Model 3 last year as the end of the tax break approached.

After several production and delivery snafus Tesla finally reached a self-imposed deadline to produce 5,000 Model 3s a week at the end of June.

The news comes after a tumultuous year for the company and Musk. Tesla’s billionaire founder was fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after making misleading comments that he intended to take the company private.

Musk also hit the headlines in a series of bizarre incidents that included calling a British diver who helped rescue children trapped in a Thai cave a “pedo” and apparently smoking marijuana on a popular podcast.

The SEC demanded Musk appoint independent oversight to Tesla’s board. In late December Tesla announced the Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, executive vice-president and global chief human resources officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, would join Tesla as independent directors.