This article is adapted from the business magazine Capital and is available here for ten days. Afterwards it will only be available to read at Like stern, Capital belongs to RTL Deutschland.

The news hit like a small earthquake: The American electric car pioneer Tesla only delivered 386,810 vehicles from January to March. That was significantly fewer than analysts had predicted: they had assumed around 60,000 more vehicles.

The stock market reaction to the news followed promptly: the share price of Elon Musk’s company promptly fell by more than six percent after the figures were announced. Why did the report have such a strong impact? The sales low is historic.

For the first time in four years, the US carmaker sold fewer vehicles compared to the same quarter last year. In the first quarter of 2023, Tesla was able to deliver around 423,000 vehicles.

Tesla cited primarily external reasons for the drop in demand: Due to the fundamental revision of the “Model 3” sedan model, adjustments to the production processes at the Californian factory in Fremont (USA) were necessary. This fundamentally inhibited sales.

The Houthi attacks on ship transport in the Red Sea are also a reason for delivery delays. This led to a two-week production break at the German Tesla factory in Grünheide – as did the left-wing extremist arson attack on the factory’s power supply, which also paralyzed production for days.

In addition to the external reasons, there is also a serious internal reason: the paint is off. Tesla has gone from a revolutionary pioneer to an ordinary company, CEO Elon Musk from a shining pioneer to a stumbling CEO. Industry expert Dan Yves from venture capitalist Wedbush Securities even describes the current development as a “train wreck” and Tesla “slammed into a brick wall at full speed.”

The outlook is also less rosy than in previous periods of stormy growth rates. Musk has already dampened expectations for this year. The effect of price cuts and discounts has already worn off. In addition, new models from Tesla are a long time coming.

After all, the competition is also feeling the headwind. The Chinese car manufacturer BYD had to give up the crown it had won as the world’s largest electric car manufacturer at the end of 2023. Tesla is number one again – despite falling sales figures.