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2019-04-08 — fool.com

The sequential decline in deliveries can mostly be attributed to higher in-transit inventory as Tesla abruptly shifted its delivery mix toward Europe and China rather than the U.S. But even adjusting for that headwind, it appears that Model 3 production and sales have peaked. The only hope for a return to meaningful growth is that Tesla's move to open a factory in China will allow it to significantly reduce prices in that key market.

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There are a number of possible causes of this sales plunge. The partial phase-out of federal tax credits in the U.S. may have pulled forward some demand into 2018. Better availability of the Model 3 is another factor that could be weighing on demand for pricier Teslas. Trade tensions may be impacting sales in China. Growing competition in the electric vehicle market certainly can't be overlooked. And the recent Model Y reveal could be causing some potential buyers to consider waiting for that model.

Yet one thing is certain. There aren't any meaningful production constraints to blame for the sales decline -- it's all about demand. The only question is how much Tesla is willing to cut prices (at the cost of lower gross margin) to prop up Model S and Model X sales volume going forward.

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