Tesla Says Deliveries in Quarter Set a Record

Tesla delivered a record number of vehicles in the most recent quarter, the company said Tuesday.

The electric-car maker said it delivered 95,200 autos, bettering the mark it had set in last year’s final quarter.

Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said in an email to employees last week that the company would deliver 90,000 to 100,000 cars in the second quarter.

The sales figures were reported after the market closed, and Tesla stock rose 7 percent in extended trading. The company’s shares had lost about 35 percent of their value since closing above $347 on Jan. 11.

Even with the solid showing, Tesla may be hard-pressed to reach its goal of selling 360,000 to 400,000 cars this year. The second quarter was an improvement over the 63,000 vehicles Tesla delivered in the first quarter, but at the midway point of 2019, the total is just over 158,000.

Perhaps more worrying is that Tesla cut prices several times to stimulate sales, moves likely to hurt its bottom line.

“When you cut prices to hit sales targets, you don’t show that you are on the path to sustained profits,” said Erik Gordon, a business professor at the University of Michigan. “You could be on the path to long-term losses.”

Keeping sales on the rise may be a challenge in the second half of the year. As of July 1, the federal tax credit available to Tesla’s customers fell by half, to $1,875, effectively raising the cost of its cars.

The decline in first-quarter deliveries, from 90,700 in the final quarter of 2018, came after the credit was reduced to $3,750 from $7,500.

“Tesla watchers and investors should think less about numbers for the next few quarters,” Mr. Gordon said, “and more about how the company will compete when established car companies with dealer networks, global manufacturing and ample capital invade the market.”

Tesla is expected to report its second-quarter earnings later this month.

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