The beleaguered Tesla (TSLA) had more than enough issues to deal with even before the specter of U.S.-Chinese tariffs and counter-tariffs arose.

Troubles include:

  • A hemorrhaging of cash.
  • Manufacturing-execution problems.
  • Credit markets that smell blood (Tesla's bonds have been plummeting).

And as I wrote in my initial, less-than-enthusiastic thesis on Tesla in 2015:

-- The company's balance sheet is weakening. ...

-- Subsidies for electric cars are to be eliminated, and oil-price weakness diminishes interest in electric cars, especially low-end new cars on which the whole Tesla story rests. ...

-- Competition is increasing as 1) all major car companies are coming out with electric cars, and 2) Chinese battery companies are expanding and forming joint ventures. ...

I suppose, to keep the plates spinning, Elon 'P.T. Barnum' Musk is soon to announce that driving a Tesla will cure impotence and cancer.

-- Tesla: Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain, Doug's Daily Diary, Aug. 6, 2015

The possibility of Beijing imposing additional tariffs on U.S. cars imported into China could deliver the last blow. After all, such tariffs could be a killer to U.S.-made electrical vehicles like Teslas.

According to my notes, Tesla sold about 90,000 vehicles in 2017, including around 14,850 autos in China. That's a lot of production that's at risk.

Overall, the U.S. imports only about $1.4 billion of Chinese autos, but exports some $9.7 billion of American cars to the Asian nation.

I recently covered my Tesla short for a profit, but then re-shorted the name last Wednesday at $286.50. (Tesla finished at $289.66 on Monday, down more than 3.2% on the day.)

(This column has been updated with TSLA's closing stock price.)

At the time of publication, Kass was short TSLA, although positions can change at any time.