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Tesla’s Sales Fell in First Quarter as Competition Intensified

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Tesla, which has been accustomed to brisk growth, reported a drop in car sales during the first three months of the year as models from other automakers appeared to gain ground.

The company led by Elon Musk said it delivered 387,000 cars worldwide in the first quarter, down 8.5 percent from 423,000 vehicles in the same period last year. The sales figure was significantly below expectations.

The reduced sales are the latest sign that Tesla’s dominance of the market for electric cars is slipping. The company’s shares have fallen 30 percent this year because investors are concerned that the company is not doing enough to respond to intensifying competition.

In China, Tesla faces BYD and dozens of other rivals with ambitions to expand worldwide. In Europe, established carmakers like Volkswagen and BMW have introduced more compelling products. And in the United States, sales of electric cars are not growing as fast as they were a year ago.

BYD said earlier on Tuesday that it sold about 300,000 electric vehicles, up 13 percent from the same period a year earlier. The company also sold 324,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in the first quarter, up 15 percent from a year earlier.

Tesla pioneered mass-market electric cars, but its lineup is aging. Tesla’s only completely new model since 2020 is the Cybertruck, a futuristic pickup that went on sale in limited numbers last year. The least expensive version that Tesla says it can deliver this year starts at around $80,000, limiting its appeal to well-heeled early adopters.

Tesla is working on an electric car that would cost around $25,000, but the model is not expected to go on sale in large numbers until 2026. In the meantime, Tesla remains dependent on the Model Y sport utility vehicle and the Model 3 sedan for most of its sales.

Tesla has repeatedly cut prices, but analysts say the strategy has lowered its profits without doing enough to stimulate sales. The company has recently modestly raised the prices of some cars in the United States and China. The Model Y starts at nearly $45,000 before federal and state tax breaks, after an increase of $1,000 announced this week.

Mr. Musk has not given a clear indication of how the company plans to regain momentum. At the same time, his polarizing statements and endorsement of right-wing conspiracy theories have alienated many of the left-leaning customers who are most likely to buy electric cars.

Tesla’s stock was down about 5 percent in early trading on Tuesday.



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