Price cuts boost Tesla sales, beating estimates as EV growth rate slows

DETROIT (AP) — Steep price cuts helped electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. increase its fourth-quarter vehicle sales by almost 20 per cent as EV sales growth slowed across the industry.

The Austin, Texas, company said Tuesday that it sold 484,507 vehicles worldwide from October through December. That handily beat Wall Street estimates of 473,000 for the quarter according to data provider FactSet.

For the full year, Tesla said it sold just over 1.8 million vehicles, up 37.7 per cent from 2022 numbers.

Full-year sales numbers fell far short of CEO Elon Musk’s prediction of 50 per cent sales growth in most years. But the company did exceed an internal target for the year of 1.8 million vehicle sales.

Tesla chopped prices in the US multiple times during the year, at times by $20,000 on some of its higher-priced models. Even its lowest-price model, the rear-wheel-drive 3, saw a cut of at least $6,600. Industry analysts expect the price cuts to trim Tesla’s profit margins when it reports earnings on Jan. 24 after the markets close.

The increase helped Tesla hold off Chinese powerhouse BYD to keep the title of the world’s top seller of electric vehicles. Fast-growing BYD reported a 73 per cent EV sales increase for last year to 1.57 million.

As usual, the bulk of Tesla’s sales were its lower-priced Models 3 and Y, with deliveries of 461,538 globally in the fourth quarter. That was up 19 per cent from a year ago. Sales of its other models, mainly the S and X with some new Cybertrucks, grew 34 per cent to 22,969. The company didn’t break out sales for individual models.

The company produced nearly 495,000 vehicles for the quarter, about 10,000 more than it delivered.

Tesla shares fell slightly in Tuesday afternoon trading.