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Are the tables turning on Tesla? — Karl Brauer |

Tesla broke sales records in 2023 but struggled to maintain profits as a series of aggressive price cuts failed to spur adequate demand. With the company’s fourth-quarter earnings dropping 40% from the year before and its increasingly controversial CEO Elon Musk expressing uncertainty toward the future, the brand is in an increasingly dire situation as it faces accelerating competition from other automakers in the electric vehicle segment.

On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Karl Brauer, executive analyst at Brauer has been a vital source of data insights and forecasts for the retail automotive sector, leveraging his expertise in market analysis to accurately predict shifts in consumer preferences and demand. Now, he discusses how Tesla got where it is today and why it may struggle to grow in the future.

Key Takeaways

1. Brauer notes that Tesla still came close to meeting its earnings targets for the fourth quarter and continued to sell one of the world’s most popular vehicles (Model 3). While the company’s current financial struggles are far from cataclysmic, he explains that they are concerning on a forward-looking basis.

2. The launch of the Cybertruck, hyped by Musk as being a potential flagship model for Tesla, was ultimately met with muted applause after years of delay. The electric pickup is both more expensive and features a lower range than originally promised, and it will likely take considerable time to generate a profit for the company.

3. Brauer explains that cars are sold based on branding, features, and affordability. The Tesla core model lineup is rapidly aging, having gone multiple years without a new offering. Although the Modle 3 has received an upgrade, it is not transformative enough to compel demand. Between the impact of negative press on the company’s reputation and the lack of refreshed vehicle designs, the improvements in affordability have proven ineffective at driving enough sales to meet expectations.

4. Due to these factors, Brauer believes Tesla’s challenge is not one of satisfying demand but rather over-satisfying demand. In other words, the company is making more vehicles than there are customers.

5. While the automaker still has a chance to recover from its financial headwinds, Brauer believes that Tesla needs a legitimate breakthrough. For example, meaningful improvements in battery efficiency or self-driving software could renew interest in the brand and improve the value of its models. Unfortunately, none of these are guaranteed to happen.

"It's starting to look like there's maybe a saturation in the EV market for Teslas, that [the company] is finally facing not a capacity-constrained volume but a demand-constrained volume, and that's a huge shift." — Karl Brauer

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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