Tesla's U.S. Sales Slowed Early This Year, Blog Says

(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc.’s U.S. sales have slowed considerably in the first two months of the year, according to a blog that publishes estimates Elon Musk has repeatedly shared on Twitter.

InsideEVs estimates that Tesla sold about 5,750 Model 3s in February and 6,500 in January, a significant drop-off from a record 25,250 in December. The blog also estimates there’s been a dip in demand for Model S sedans, offset by a slight pickup in Model X deliveries.

Tesla's U.S. Sales Slowed Early This Year, Blog Says

Tesla only releases sales on a quarterly basis and doesn’t break down results by market, making the figures the subject of much speculation. But Musk, the chief executive officer, retweeted InsideEVs delivery reports several times in recent months as the carmaker was boosting production of the Model 3.

Musk, 47, hasn’t been universal in his engagement with InsideEVs and its sales reports. He quibbled when the blog tweeted a less-positive post in November, saying it seemed Model 3 demand had “taken a breather” in November.

Using emojis, the CEO wrote that the blog’s numbers were wrong, and advised bearing in mind that Tesla made cars for overseas markets and East Coast states in the first half of the quarter.

Whether the latest InsideEVs estimates are correct or not, Tesla flagged to investors that Model 3 sales in North America will be lower in the first quarter, as it starts shipping the sedans to Europe and China for the first time. The company has estimated deliveries may be about 10,000 units lower than production during the first three months of the year, citing longer transit times to overseas markets.

The winding down of federal incentives also may be playing a role in the apparent slowdown. The federal tax credit available to Tesla buyers halved to $3,750 as of Jan. 1. The company has cut prices of the Model 3 and its other vehicles several times this year to offset the lower incentives, most recently by announcing a plan to close most stores and shift all ordering online.

“It’s important to appreciate, the demand for Model 3 is insanely high. The inhibitor is affordability,” Musk said on a Jan. 30 earnings call. “If we made it more affordable, the demand is extraordinary.”

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