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Tesla Slashes Prices Up To 20% In Broad Bid To Boost Sales

The company lowered the cost of the cheapest Model Y by 20% and lopped as much as $21,000 off its most expensive vehicles.

A Tesla Inc. Model Y electric vehicle leaves the automaker's showroom during a test drive in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Tesla customers in China wanting to get the new locally made Model Y are facing a longer wait, signaling strong initial demand for the Shanghai-built SUV.
A Tesla Inc. Model Y electric vehicle leaves the automaker's showroom during a test drive in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. Tesla customers in China wanting to get the new locally made Model Y are facing a longer wait, signaling strong initial demand for the Shanghai-built SUV.

Tesla Inc. cut prices across its lineup in the US and major European markets in the carmaker’s latest effort to stoke demand after several quarters of disappointing deliveries.

The company lowered the cost of the cheapest Model Y by 20% and lopped as much as $21,000 off its most expensive vehicles in its home market. Tesla also made major reductions in countries including Germany, the UK and France a week after its second round of cuts in China since October.

The drastic changes sent Tesla shares tumbling, as they reflect the conundrum the company faces after coming up well short of its vehicle deliveries target, despite year-end discounts and incentives. To continue growing and fully utilize the plants that it’s opened or expanded in the last year, Tesla appears to be compromising the profit margins that Wall Street celebrated when the company was running up against production constraints.

WATCH: Tesla Inc. cut prices up to 20% in the US and major European markets in the latest effort to stoke demand.Source: Bloomberg
WATCH: Tesla Inc. cut prices up to 20% in the US and major European markets in the latest effort to stoke demand.Source: Bloomberg

Tesla’s stock fell as much as 5.8% as of 9:35 a.m. New York time. Shares of other automakers including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Rivian Automotive Inc. also slumped.

“There will be a significant impact to TSLA’s near-term gross margin, and the math depends on how long these new price levels last,” Chris McNally, an Evercore ISI analyst with the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock, wrote to clients Friday. Even if the cuts apply to just a portion of the year and Tesla partially reverses them, 2023 earnings per share could end up 30% to 40% below the current consensus, he estimates.

Tesla Slashes Prices Up To 20% In Broad Bid To Boost Sales

Read more: EVs Look Poised for Slower Sales Growth This Year

The changes in the US drop the price of Model 3 sedans and certain Model Y sport utility vehicles below the caps they needed to come under to qualify for as much as $7,500 electric vehicle tax credits.

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service released guidelines late last year that irritated Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk because the Model Y didn’t weigh enough to be deemed an SUV. That means five-seat versions of the vehicle are subject to the $55,000 price cap that applies to sedans, rather than the $80,000 limit for SUVs.

Tesla’s Model Y.Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Tesla’s Model Y.Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Tesla now notes on its website the $7,500 federal tax credit that certain customers are now eligible for will apply to vehicles it delivers through March.

While some parts of the new US law went into effect on Jan. 1, the Treasury Department is still finalizing battery-content sourcing requirements that could cut the tax credit certain EVs are eligible for in half.

Tesla’s Model 3.Photographer: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg
Tesla’s Model 3.Photographer: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says

Price cuts for each of the four nameplates in Tesla’s lineup follow a global sales volume stall brought on by myriad issues from macroeconomics to technology challenges, as well as consumers turning apathetic to the brusque CEO and a fallow board of directors. Lost revenue for all of 2023 would exceed $11 billion — or 14% of sales — if the price cuts were to stay in place all year, assuming the 2023 global volume estimate of 1.8 million vehicles.

— Kevin Tynan, BI auto analyst

Click here for the research.

Toni Sacconaghi, a Bernstein analyst with the equivalent of a sell rating on Tesla shares, wrote last week that the carmaker was facing “a significant demand problem” and that its challenges would persist in part because its models were too expensive to qualify for tax credits.

“We believe Tesla will need to either reduce its growth targets (and run its factories below capacity) or sustain and potentially increase recent price cuts globally, pressuring margins,” Sacconaghi wrote in a Jan. 2 report. “We see demand problems remaining until Tesla is able to introduce a lower-priced offering in volume, which may only be in 2025.”

--With assistance from .

(Updates share move in the fourth paragraph.)

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