Charts: Tesla stock tanks even as it sets EV delivery record

The pioneering electric-vehicle maker shipped more cars in Q4 2022 than ever before, but its stock price is sliding ever lower. Elon Musk’s Twitter side hustle isn’t helping.
By Eric Wesoff, Maria Virginia Olano

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Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk have always been a study in good news and bad news.

The latest good news: The number of electric vehicles Tesla delivered in the fourth quarter of 2022 drove its annual totals into record-breaking territory, amounting to a torrid 40 percent year-over-year increase. While falling a bit short of analyst expectations, Tesla delivered 405,278 vehicles in the fourth quarter and approximately 1.3 million vehicles over the whole year. That’s compared to full-year deliveries of 936,000 EVs in 2021 and 499,550 in 2020.

Tesla’s stock price plunged 12 percent on news of the slightly lower-than-expected deliveries, further compounding the disastrous collapse of its stock in 2022.

Which gets us to the latest bad news.

The breathtaking 72 percent collapse in Tesla’s stock price since the start of January 2022 has reduced the company’s market capitalization (not to mention Musk’s wealth) by hundreds of billions of dollars. The stock-price landslide has persisted into the new year, with Tesla’s stock now trading at its lowest levels since August 2020.

The drop in Tesla stock is a gut punch to the millions of individual stock owners and Tesla obsessives who have made fortunes as the controversial firm became one of the globe’s most valuable public companies.

The cratering of the EV pioneer’s stock price in recent months can largely be blamed on the nearly $23 billion of Tesla stock Musk sold in 2022 to finance his new hobby of owning and steering social-media platform Twitter. That stock sale made Musk the leading inside seller of stock last year, according to Forbes, besting Google’s Larry Page, who stands a very distant second.

Institutional investors and the public clearly have some anxiety about Musk being distracted by his Twitter side hustle and about his questionable decisions regarding free speech, political advertising and re-platforming personalities such as Donald Trump and other reprobates.

This is the duality of Elon Musk and Tesla, as explored on an episode of the Carbon Copy podcast a year ago. He fiddles with killer tweets and sick burns while Tesla’s value evaporates. He derides government subsidies as Tesla benefits from those subsidies. Still, despite the CEO’s sideshow, Tesla single-handedly put electric cars on the map and pushed the auto industry to take EVs more seriously.

The company grew its production by 20 percent from Q3 to Q4 last year, and growth could continue at this pace into 2023 as new factories in Austin and Berlin continue to ramp up deliveries.

Tesla is aiming to sell close to 2 million vehicles in 2023 and has pushed EVs near the tipping point of mainstream adoption. There’s still good news at this lightning-rod corporation if you can tune out the stock price and the erratic noise from its celebrity CEO

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Eric Wesoff is editorial director at Canary Media.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.