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Time for a Tesla Turnaround?

The Tesla Model 3 is now America's best-selling electric vehicle. The news follows a spate of bad news for the Silicon Valley-based electric vehicle manufacturer.
April 25, 2018, 1pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"It’s official: Tesla’s new Model 3 is now the best-selling electric car in the U.S.," reports Tom Randall for Bloomberg Technology on April 3.

Tesla Inc. released its production numbers for the first quarter 2018 on [April 3]. The company delivered 8,180 Model 3s in the first three months of the year. That compares with 6,468 deliveries for Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius Prime plug-in hybrid and 4,375 for General Motors Co.’s Chevy Bolt.

More than 450,000 people had pre-ordered the company's affordable electric vehicle (EV) model, with a base price of $35,000, by making the required $1,000 deposit, according to The Washington Post.

With the introduction of the Model 3, the Palo Alto-based auto manufacturer dominates the EV market, capturing the third and fourth most popular models as well in the latest sales data, with the Model S (5,300) and Model X (4,500). See image in source article for sales data for top seven EV models and a report on all EV sales below the separation.

Tesla must welcome the good news as it's been too much in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.

Last month it suffered its second fatality resulting from a crash of one its vehicles where the driver was using Autopilot, a semi-autonomous driving feature. To worsen matters, the National Transportation Safety Board told Tesla Inc. on [April 12] that the carmaker was being removed from the investigation of the incident, report Alan Levin and Ryan Beene for Bloomberg Technology.

The unusual move followed public statements by the company blaming the apparent violation of agency protocols. The NTSB guards the integrity of its investigations closely, demanding that participants adhere to rules about what information they can release and their expected cooperation. 

As posted earlier this month, Tesla's bonds were in free fall, its credit has been downgraded, and it has fallen falling short of Model 3 production targets.

Randal questions the company's ability to sustain its production numbers. "In the coming weeks, Tesla will need to prove that it can sustain and build upon the peak weekly production rates it just announced," he writes. 

It's not just Tesla that is enjoying remarkable sales numbers, though, it's the EV industry as a whole. "In the first quarter, automakers sold more than 54,000 EVs, a 32 percent increase year-on-year," report Matt Piotrowski and Paul Ruiz for The Fuse on April 18. 

The number of EV models continues to increase, providing consumers with more choices and paving the way for widespread adoption. There were 49 advanced fuel vehicle models available to consumers in the first quarter, including 31 plug-in electric hybrids, 15 fully electric vehicles, and three fuel cell vehicles. 

Sales of fully electric models, like the Model 3 and Chevy Bolt, comprised 53 percent of sales.

Piotrowski and Ruiz are very upbeat about the future of EV sales, seeing many more models coming on the market from different manufacturers as more countries consider banning sales of light-duty vehicles with internal combustion engines. 

China will continue to be the main driver, where sales should make up three percent of total auto purchases this year. 

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Published on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 in Bloomberg Technology
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