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EV maker Tesla reported 20% increase in net profit in the second quarter, despite price cuts

Autor: Article based upon analysis from Reuters Breakingviews
2 min

Electric car maker Tesla reported its second-quarter results with a 47% year-over-year increase in revenue. Despite global price cuts, Tesla increased car deliveries by 83% compared to the same quarter of 2022, although its gross profit margin fell from 25% to 18%.

Electric vehicle sales in the United States hit a new record of nearly 300,000 vehicles in the second quarter, up about 48% from a year earlier, according to Cox Automotive. Tesla’s share of electric vehicle sales fell below 60%.

On June 8, General Motors announced it would adopt Tesla’s charging plug design and allow its customers to access the company’s Supercharger network. The move followed a similar announcement by rival Ford Motor.

But, Elon Musk isn’t backing away about his plans to change the world. The burden of leading Tesla is that he has to. The automaker created the electric car market with its groundbreaking vehicles.

Now it must help its competitors grow to expand the market. Second-quarter results released Wednesday show the toll that’s taking.

For a while, Tesla was generating profits so high that companies with internal combustion engines looked like fossils running them. The $920 billion automaker’s operating margin peaked at 19% in the first quarter of 2022, compared with 11% for General Motors.

At the time, Tesla held three-quarters of the U.S. electric vehicle market, according to Cox Automotive.

Those were the easy times. Tesla managed to increase production, but the company made more cars than it could sell. The company’s growth in the U.S. stagnated in 2022, Cox said, as the quarterly growth rate of electric car sales slowed overall.

Despite the Biden administration’s support, electric vehicles face significant challenges. The charging infrastructure in the U.S. is less developed than elsewhere, there are fewer charging stations and reliability is low.

And electric cars are expensive, peaking at an average of $66,390 last year, more than a third higher than the average price of a car overall.

Moreover, Tesla is now so big that the company can’t just appeal to the easy convert. The company is depending on the overall electric car market to grow beyond its current 7% share of the U.S. market to attract new buyers.

That’s especially true given the push by competitors into battery-powered vehicles, which have cut Musk’s share of the electric pie to 59% this quarter.

That could be one reason Musk has opened up Tesla’s charging network to competitors, who in turn are adopting his company’s more reliable plug design.

Musk also said Wednesday that the company is in talks with a „major” automaker about licensing its self-driving technology. And he has been ruthless in cutting prices: revenue per car shipped, adjusted for regulatory credits, fell to about $45,000 in the second quarter, down 20% from a year earlier.

But that also has implications for Tesla’s own business. The company’s proprietary charging network and technology are key differentiators for customers.

Lowering prices will lead to a more competitive, user-friendly industry. Cox found that 51% of consumers are now at least interested in an electric car.

However, Tesla’s operating margin has fallen below 10%, and gross profit per car delivered is also down 44% year-over-year, even though costs have also fallen.

Tesla is digging its heels into the market while creating an environment for more fiercely competitive prey.