Tesla sales drop more than expected

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/04/03/tesla-sales-drop-more-than-expected.html



Tesla would have been better off representing itself with a cartoon mascot instead of a stoner edgelord who runs a Nazi bar on the side.


Why wouldn’t they go with the genius namesake?


Hm. Maybe.



Tsk! I’d forgot all about Reddy Kilowatt. He was pretty ahem cool.

Same with the Ray-o-Vac Electro Kitty


I really enjoy this version of Tesla, who would make a badass spokesperson -

But that said, Tesla’s image has taken massive hits. I used to be amazed when I saw one on the road. Now I have a less favorable view of them, although that’s mainly because they are some of the worst drivers around me.


The cars are also built with terrible/inconsistent quality control


It’s just shocking that people aren’t interested in wacky panel gaps, stupid UI choices, and outrageous repair policies and costs. Who could have foreseen Tesla taking a shit when other electric options hit the market?


Wait, you mean building vehicles based on the weed-infused fever dreams of a narcissistic edgelord CEO…isn’t a good idea?


As the larger manufacturers ramp up EV production, I just don’t see how Tesla can compete. They can’t even try to switch to a more luxury product, because I don’t think they could actually produce the fit and finish that they would need to be luxury.


If they were willing to take a bite, and put someone in charge with a real mandate for quality control, they could probably tighten it up quite a bit. Not that Elno “sleep at your desks” Musk would be willing to unchain (figuratively, I hope) his engineers and take a production cut while that’s going on.

Mind you, if sales are down, now’s the perfect time to do that.


Also, Jaguar and BMW are already producing more luxury EVs with all the quality and heritage of their marques.


It seems to me that Tesla has really been kept aloft by dint of the myth of Elon Musk as a tech genius - which is pretty well punctured by now and he’s toxic to the brand because he’s a Nazi. His string of wild promises about future products are now pretty clearly empty, making future promises equally suspect. I just don’t see what kind of future the company has - their business model was to sell luxury high-performance cars to techies, and the promised lower-cost vehicles for the masses not only haven’t materialized, all the other automakers are beating them to the punch with better quality vehicles. (Turns out that when tech disruptors take on existing industries and “do things differently,” that doesn’t necessarily mean better.)

I always thought the “Elon Musk is going to save the world” fanboyisms were ridiculous - automobiles aren’t going to save us from climate change, and especially not niche electric car sales - but now it’s downright perverse.


So how bad is it?

CEO Elon Musk’s electric car company reported it built 433,000 vehicles but delivered only 387,000. That’s down from the 484,507 cars it delivered in the final three months of 2023,

Oof. Maybe it’s a post-Christmas less-money thing?

and it’s also down from the 422,875 vehicle sales in the first quarter of last year.


Maybe it’s a nation-wide tightening of belts this year compared to last? Cost-of-living stress? Let’s see

Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) reported an about 20% rise in first-quarter U.S. auto sales on Tuesday … Sales of electrified vehicles, which includes hybrids, EVs and hyrdogen fuel cell vehicles, rose about 74% to 206,850 units.

That’s compared to first-quarter 2023, so the post-Christmas effect is in there too.

BYD electric vehicles are up 13% year-on-year. Where Tesla has lost about 100,000 sales compared to this time last year, BYD has gained about 35,000.

Hyundai is a small player in this, selling only around 11,000 electrics, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids in the US in Q1 2024. But they’re growing quite happily - 35% growth is very happy indeed.

The upshot is: people want to buy electric cars. More people bought electric cars this year than last. Double-digit growth is pretty normal across the board this quarter. And in a booming market, Tesla is losing sales. This is like being unable to sell ice cream on a hot day.

As folks have said: business-wise, it’s hard to see where Tesla goes from here. Luxury models with decades of brand-status are moving in at the top end, and cheap + decent manufacturers are sweeping up the bottom. And Elno is pissing off everyone else.


So, I didn’t buy an EV when I repurchased 18 months ago because I had just moved cross-country and would need to install a charger, which was an expense I didn’t want to deal with post-move, and because the cars I was interested in were extremely supply constrained.

I expect to be powering my home entirely from solar soon (because 1) Florida and 2) $400 a month power bills in the summer, I kid you not), so an EV is an obvious next step.

Originally, my plan was a Tesla until, well, you know. Then it was a decision that I would choose the best option technically, edgelords be damned, and wouldn’t you know it, the more recent entries into the EV space are frankly more appealing than what Tesla is creating right now, so now I don’t have to face that quandary.

It’s still about 12-18 months before I get a new vehicle, but I wanted to see if Teslas really are as bad as everyone makes them out to be relative to the other options.

So JD power puts Tesla at the bottom of the survey, a third worse than the average, but of course, that’s just on delivery.

Consumer reports puts Tesla just slightly above average in terms of overall reliability, and this matters: JD power, for example, puts Chrysler right on the top of their initial quality survey, but they are at the bottom (by a huuuuuuge margin) of Consumer reports lifetime reliability survey.

Ok, so that seems to suggest that the cars start out bad but over their lifetime are generally average. Fine. Now what about against other EV’s? That matters because EV’s both introduce their own issues and also eliminate a bunch more since there’s no engine, etc.

So this gets a little more interesting. Looking at available EVs that CR has reliability data from, Tesla’s Model 3 has been consistently a 3/5 reliability rating, while the Models S/Y and especially X have been 2/5 or even 1/5 since launch, with a slight uptick this year.

Comparitively, looking at EVs currently on offer from Nissan, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Ford and GM for completeness, gives an interesting picture:

Bolt? consistently 1/5 rating until this year, creeping up to 2/5
Leaf? 2/5, up to 3/5 for the last two years, their new Ariya is 4/5 for this year but too new to call I think.
Ford’s Mustang SUV thingy? 2/5 for the first two years, 5/5 and 4/5 for the last two years respectively. The lightning is consistently 2/5.
Hyundai’s ioniq 5 is pretty reliably 3/5, the kona electric 2/5
Volkswagen’s ID4 was 1/5 until the last few years creeping up to 2/5

So, the verdict there seems to be that none of the electric offerings are especially reliable, but on the whole even this models, most of which are cheaper than Teslas, are on average quite a bit more reliable.

Ok, ok, so then maybe they excel in the “Luxury” EV space that now exists? We’re talking Porsche, BMW, Lucid and Rivian’s of the world.

BMW’s i4 has been solidly 3/5 since released, as well as their iX.
Porsche’s insanely expensive Taycan has a 4/5 rating
Lucid’s Air had a 4/5 reliability when launched, 2/5 currently
Rivian’s R1S/T are 2/5

So, verdict there is you don’t get more reliability with more money, but you do get more than you do with Tesla.

So I’m left with the same 2 verdicts I was 18 months ago:

  1. EVs still have a way to go before they are as reliable as other cars on average
  2. Traditional manufactures are, unsurprisingly, managing more reliable EVs on average than others, and
  3. Tesla seems an outlier in every category I throw it in. On any metric, it doesn’t seem like the vehicle I would choose.

So even if you overlook the monster on the throne at Tesla, they still don’t seem to be especially great choices on their technical merits, and their one arguably great other feature - superchargers - are about to become available to many of the models I just listed above (and charging infra will get better every year).

So, yeah. This sales drop seems pretty inevitable to me, and not likely to be easily corrected with the new EVs set to drop this year and every year going forward.


How are reliability ratings looking for plug-in hybrids (I don’t subscribe to CR)? If you have short-ish commutes, you’ll be able to do those on all-electric.


Watching with interest. I have assumed that hybrid vehicles combine the problems of both battery and internal combustion engines, but the local taxi companies [1] have consistently loved Toyota hybrids since at least 2011, so :person_shrugging:

Anecdata: A few years back I got a lift in a Prius taxi and was told “It’s this car’s last shift - it’s off to the wrecker’s tomorrow.” It had 800,000 km (500,000 miles) on the odometer. Literally the distance to the moon and back. Smooth enough ride still.

[1] Uber got here late, so we still have taxis.