© 2021 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Tesla's Whirlwind April


Tesla, the darling of electric car companies, is taking a major hit to its bottom line. Sales are way down. And in the first three months of this year, Tesla lost more than $700 million. Here's NPR's Camila Domonoske.

CAMILA DOMONOSKE, BYLINE: Wall Street was expecting a loss, but Tesla's numbers were worse than anticipated. CEO Elon Musk told investors it's not a lack of appetite for the cars.


ELON MUSK: We do see strong demand for vehicles.

DOMONOSKE: Tesla faced logistical challenges in delivering cars overseas last quarter, and it also had to pay off a sizable debt. So Tesla says sales will recover. And it still plans on selling up to 400,000 vehicles this year.


MUSK: I don't have a crystal ball, so it's hard for me to say. But my impression is that demand is quite solid.

DOMONOSKE: But many auto industry experts are skeptical. Consider the flagship Model 3.

JESSICA CALDWELL: The vehicle was so overhyped, you know, with a massive wait list and people wanting it so badly.

DOMONOSKE: Jessica Caldwell is an analyst at Edmunds.

CALDWELL: Every vehicle has its shelf life of being the coolest thing on the block. And I think that that has certainly starting to fade.

DOMONOSKE: The Model 3 is the bestselling luxury car in the U.S., but deliveries declined 20% over last quarter. Sales of the more expensive models dropped even more. And that's after a massive delivery push in the final days of the quarter. The disappointing numbers come after a tumultuous spring for Tesla. It announced it would close most of its stores then reversed course. It offered a vehicle at the long-promised price of $35,000 then pulled that version off its online ordering system. Four board members will be leaving without replacements. And now Musk faces another deadline to settle a dispute with regulators over his sometimes-misleading tweets. Meanwhile, Tesla is trying to direct attention away from its sales figures and toward the future and the company's achievements in developing self-driving cars. Musk continues to make ambitious promises.


MUSK: Next year, for sure, we'll have over a million robo-taxis on the road.

DOMONOSKE: Analysts like Jessica Caldwell are skeptical, to say the least.

CALDWELL: Will it happened one day? Yes. But I think the likelihood of it happening by then - by the timeline he's proposing is quite preposterous.

DOMONOSKE: Earlier this week, Musk acknowledged that he doesn't always meet his boldly declared deadlines. Sometimes, I'm not on time, he said, but I'll get it done.

Camila Domonoske, NPR News.

(SOUNBITE OF OVUM'S "DEFECTION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.