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Tesla warns of sales growth slowdown as it prepares for next-gen launch in late 2025

Tesla warns of sales growth slowdown as it prepares for next-gen launch in late 2025

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Sure, the Cybertruck is finally out. But the company faces compounding challenges, including dwindling margins, softening sales, and more competition in the US and abroad.

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Tesla reported earnings of $7.9 billion in net income on $25.2 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2023. The figures represent an increase in revenue, up from $24.3 billion the same time last year. The company added that its vehicle volume growth rate in 2024 “may be notably lower” than it was in 2023 as it works to launch Tesla’s next-gen vehicle.

Responding to a question about its next-gen vehicles during the earnings call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company is targeting production “towards the end of 2025” but warned of delays due to the complexities of the manufacturing process. “We are focused on bringing the next generation platform to market as quickly as we can, with the plan to start production at Gigafactory Texas,” Tesla said in a note to shareholders. “This platform will revolutionize how vehicles are manufactured.”

The company’s profit margins improved slightly but are still down compared to last year’s. The company reported margins of 8.2 percent, up slightly from 7.6 percent the previous quarter but down from last year’s 16 percent. Tesla used to have historic profit margins, sometimes as much as 20 percent, but a series of price cuts have caused its once-vaunted margins to drop into more earthly territory, worrying investors. 

The company’s profit margins continued to shrink

Also fewer Tesla vehicles qualify for the federal EV tax credit, thanks to strict new rules for the sourcing of battery materials. The performance version of the Model 3, the long-range version of the Model X, and three versions of the Model Y still qualify for the full $7,500 tax credit, which can now be applied at the point of sale.

It was a pretty momentous quarter for the company, with the long-awaited release of the highly polarizing Cybertruck, as well as news that the refreshed version of the Model 3 would be coming to North America. But recent high-profile stories, like Hertz replacing some of its Tesla fleet with gasoline-powered cars and Tesla’s failing charging network in cold-weather cities like Chicago, have dampened the outlook for the company in 2024.

Tesla is also facing the existential challenge of losing its place as the world’s top producer of electrified vehicles to BYD. The Chinese company said it produced 3.02 million EVs in 2023, as compared to Tesla’s 1.81 million cars. However, BYD’s figures include 1.6 million battery-electric cars and 1.4 million hybrid vehicles — so Tesla can still claim to be the top producer of pure EVs.

Hours before the earnings report was released, Reuters reported that Tesla plans to start production on an all-new electric crossover vehicle in mid-2025. The company has apparently invited suppliers to bid to work on the car and is forecasting producing 10,000 vehicles weekly. Speculation is that this could be Tesla’s long-promised $25,000 vehicle for mass-market consumers.

Musk has been making investors nervous by making statements about spinning off Tesla’s artificial intelligence work into a separate company if he is unable to increase the size of his ownership. Such a move would drastically undercut the company’s value, which is largely based on futuristic vibes.

Update January 25th, 4:18AM ET: Updated headline and story with confirmation that Tesla is targeting late 2025 for production of its next-generation vehicles.