Tesla’s Sales Slip as It Readies Factories for New Models

Sales of Tesla electric cars slipped from July through September after the company paused production at some factories to upgrade assembly lines.

The company delivered 435,000 vehicles worldwide in the third quarter, down from 466,000 in the second quarter. Wall Street analysts had expected the decline, which they attributed to production slowdowns as Tesla refitted factories in the United States and China.

The decline “was caused by planned downtimes for factory upgrades,” Tesla said in a statement on Monday, adding that it still expects to deliver 1.8 million vehicles this year, up from 1.3 million in 2022.

Still, the dip in sales may renew concerns that demand for Tesla cars is slackening even after the company cut prices. In China, Tesla is trying to fend off Chinese carmakers, like BYD and Nio, that are rolling out new models more quickly.

In the United States, Tesla faces increased competition from established carmakers like Ford Motor, General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen. They have been chipping away at Tesla’s dominance; the company accounted for about 60 percent of the electric vehicle market in the second quarter.

Another of the new competitors is Rivian, which said on Monday that it delivered 15,600 electric vans, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles in the third quarter, up from 12,600 in the previous quarter. Though Rivian is far smaller than Tesla, its pickups pose a competitive threat to Tesla’s Cybertruck pickup. Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, has said the Cybertruck will go on sale by the end of the year.

Tesla cut prices significantly on all its models this year to fend off competition and keep its sales growing at a rapid clip. As a result, its profit margin has fallen sharply, though it remains higher than those of more established carmakers.

More recently, the company has slowed or stopped production at its factory in Austin, Texas, to prepare for production of the Cybertruck. In China, Tesla paused some production as it switched assembly lines to an upgraded version of its Model 3 sedan known as the Highland.

On an annual basis, Tesla continued to grow faster than the traditional carmakers. Sales grew 26 percent from the third quarter of 2022, when Tesla delivered 344,000 vehicles.

Tesla could also benefit from the United Automobile Workers strike against Ford, G.M. and Stellantis, the owner of Jeep, Ram and Chrysler. Sharply higher wages for unionized workers at the Detroit carmakers would widen Tesla’s cost advantage. Tesla workers do not belong to the U.A.W., although the union has said it plans to try to organize them.

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