A gigafactory of electric carmaker Tesla is seen in Shanghai, China October 18, 2019.
Aly Song | Reuters
BEIJING — One gauge of Tesla’s success in China pointed to a sharp drop in sales in April.
The U.S.-based electric car company sold 25,845 made-in-China vehicles last month, down 27% from 35,478 in March, according to figures released Tuesday by the China Passenger Car Association.
The report noted that in April, Tesla exported 14,174 cars from its Shanghai factory. The association did not disclose Tesla’s export figures for March.
Tesla’s sales decline came amid an overall 12% month-on-month drop in April for new energy passenger cars in China, according to the association. The category includes pure-electric and hybrid cars.
Guangdong-based BYD, which is backed by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett, came close behind Tesla in April. The passenger car association said BYD sold 25,450 new energy vehicles in April, up 6.5% from 23,906 in March.
The figures are close to those disclosed by BYD itself, which said earlier this month it sold 25,034 new energy passenger cars in April.
Some in China’s electric car industry have cast doubt on the accuracy of the association’s figures.
China becomes more important for Tesla
Tesla does not disclose monthly deliveries by country. The company delivered 184,800 cars worldwide during the first quarter.
Publicly disclosed figures indicate China is becoming a more and more important market for Tesla. The company made $3 billion in sales in the country during the first quarter, accounting for 29% of global sales for the period. That’s up from up from 21% for all of 2020.
Meanwhile, negative press has increased for Tesla in China. In the last few months, local reports of Tesla brake failures, crashes and explosions have mounted and drawn scrutiny from regulators. Separately on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing sources, that Tesla has halted plans to buy land and expand its Shanghai factory.
Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, or the association’s figures. Shares fell about 1.9% overnight and are down roughly 12% for the year so far.
Looking ahead, the passenger car association pointed out the capital city of Beijing is releasing 60,000 new license plates for new energy vehicles this month, which should help sales for recent market launches such as Tesla’s Model Y and Aion Y, produced by a new energy brand spun-off from Chinese state-owned automaker GAC.