Tesla Has Best China Sales Ever While Elon Musk Congratulates Rival

Tesla (TSLA) notched its best month in China ever in March as sales of its Model 3 and Model Y shot up, despite a global chip shortage. Tesla stock fell.


CEO Elon Musk also was magnanimous to Tesla’s top rival in China, Nio (NIO). Commenting on an article about Nio producing more than 100,000 EVs, he tweeted, “Congrats to NIO. That is a tough milestone.”

The U.S.-based electric-vehicle maker sold 35,478 locally built Model 3 and Model Y cars in March, according the China Passenger Car Association, nearly double from 18,318 in February.

Model 3 sales shot up to 25,327 in March from 13,688 in February, and Model Y sales jumped to 10,151 from 4,630.

For the first quarter, Tesla sold 69,280 vehicles in China, accounting for more than a third of its global Model 3 and Model Y sales during the period. Deliveries of made-in-China Model Ys started in January.

Tesla cars also accounted for about 16% of the 437,000 EVs sold in China in the first three months of 2021.

“Considering the Lunar New Year in China which took up a portion of February, we would characterize these March results (coupled with a strong February) as quite impressive and highlights the underlying strength in Tesla’s delivery numbers for 1Q announced last week,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives.

Ives says Tesla is on track to deliver 300,000-plus vehicles this year in China, which remains a linchpin for the company hitting 850,000 deliveries worldwide for 2021. Tesla sold about 137,000 EVs in China in 2020.

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Tesla Rivals Deliver Big Too

Tesla’s China-based rivals BYD Auto (BYDDF), Nio, Xpeng (XPEV) and Li Auto (LI) all reported record EV sales for the quarter. 

Warren Buffett-backed BYD Auto’s sales more than doubled in Q1 and it sold nearly twice as many overall electric vehicles as its close rival Nio. BYD Auto sold 38,599 battery-powered electric vehicles in the first quarter, a 113% jump year on year. Meanwhile, Nio delivered 20,060 in Q1.

Xpeng’s Q1 deliveries totaled 13,340. To meet surging demand, Xpeng is opening a third plant in Wuhan, China, with an annual capacity of 100,000. It did not specify a timeline.

Li Auto sold 12,579 Li ONE sport utility vehicles, a 333% jump from the same quarter last year.

Tesla Stock

Shares fell 1% to close at 677.02 on the stock market today. Tesla stock gapped above the 21-day line on April 5, following its Q1 deliveries report. Shares had been moving toward resistance at their 50-day line but have slipped back in recent days, according to MarketSmith chart analysis.

Tesla’s relative strength line is trending upward. Its RS Rating is a 95 out of a possible 99. It has an EPS Rating of 74.

Meanwhile, Nio fell 1.5%, Xpeng lost 2.7%, Li Auto declined 2% and BYD Auto was off 2%.

Overall, passenger-vehicle sales increased 69% year over year to 5.09 million for the first quarter of 2021, the CPCA said. Sales are back to levels seen two years ago, but they’re still down significantly vs. 2018’s record 5.67 million.

Carmakers like General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Volkswagen (VWAGY) have had to idle plants recently due to a global chip shortage affecting the auto industry. Nio has said it might miss second-quarter output goals as a result.

Follow Adelia Cellini Linecker @IBD_Adelia.


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