Look, I know this sucks to hear for anyone who has banked on massive continual sales growth from Tesla, but the company may be hitting a bit of a lull in its sales growth. I’d venture to say there could even be a dip in sales at some point. There are plenty of potential signs for this. But that’s also not to say it’s a given. Tesla critics and skeptics have been predicting big drops in sales for more than a decade based on “various signs.” We can see how well those predictions turned out. However, I think things may be a bit different right now.
I’m going to first note a purely anecdotal matter: Tesla has been texting me. I don’t recall Tesla ever texting me before to try to get me into a new car. However, in the past week, I’ve received two texts from the company. Before that, I received three in December. Before that, I’m not sure if Tesla ever texted me to try to get me into a new car. (Maybe it did and my Tesla memory is just too shot.) That’s on top of a bunch of emails, and it’s also on top of Tesla offering FSD transfer and free Supercharging transfer with a trade-in. (Elon Musk said just a couple of quarters ago that would be our one chance to transfer FSD from an existing model to a new one.) That’s also on top of the latest news, that the company has cut Model Y prices in the US by $1,000. (The base Model Y now starts at $42,990 in the USA and the Model Y Long Range starts at $47,990.)
A cost cut of about 2% isn’t the biggest deal, but on top of everything else, the evidence of Tesla desperately needing more consumer demand is building up.
Also, while Tesla sometimes explains that it’s cutting prices because costs have dropped, in this case, this seems purely focused on being a sales stimulate. Tesla says that prices will rise by $1,000 again on March 1. (Come and get ’em while they’re hot! Sale price ends soon!) The FSD transfer and free Supercharging transfer expires on March 31. Clearly, Tesla is urgently trying to get more buyers in before April 1.
Tesla shot high, high, high up the sales charts with just two mass-market vehicles. The Model Y has become the best selling car in the world, with the cars behind it costing much less. But can it sustain that position at the top? Will people interested in switching to a new powertrain and new brand become a little harder to find in the coming quarters and years? Can the Model Y hold onto its crown with growing competition?
Then there’s the statement from Tesla on its last shareholder conference call that we could see “notably lower” growth in sales in 2024 than we’ve grown accustomed to. The bottom line is that Tesla needs to put more models on the market to fit different niche uses and personal preferences. Or it needs to stimulate a lot more sales in some other way. And that bring up a big question for me: What is Tesla going to start offering when these kinds of price cuts aren’t working any longer or go too deep, and when FSD & free Supercharging transfers no longer do enough? What’s Tesla’s next card to stimulate demand?