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Tesla's New-Car Registrations in China Hit the Brakes

Registrations of new Tesla cars in China plunge by almost half in January from December as the Lunar New Year holiday and the coronavirus outbreak keep buyers away.

Registrations of new Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report cars in China hit the brakes in January, plunging by almost half, as the Lunar New Year holiday and the then-escalating coronavirus outbreak kept buyers away.

Citing state-backed China Automotive Information Net, which gathers industry data based on insurance purchases, Bloomberg reported Thursday that 3,563 Tesla cars were registered in China last month, down from 6,643 in December.

Of the January registrations, 2,605 were for cars built in China, Bloomberg said.

The hefty drop illustrates Tesla’s vulnerability not only to unexpected events that impact buyers’ behavior but also broader trends in China's electric-car market, which has seen waning demand amid slowing economic growth and reduced incentives for electric vehicles.

Tesla started deliveries to customers from its new Shanghai plant - its first outside the U.S. - last month. The locally manufactured models helped Tesla’s registrations in January increase from year-earlier numbers, which were only 853, according to Bloomberg.

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Deliveries of all new-energy vehicles in China from carmakers to dealerships tumbled 54% last month, Bloomberg said, citing figures from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Before this week's stock market rout, shares of Tesla had flirted with all-time highs amid expectations the electric vehicle company can and will continue to boost production and sales globally. 

The Palo Alto, Calif., company’s stock has surged some 60% since Jan. 14, prompting analysts at Jefferies earlier this week to downgrade the stock to hold from buy, though they still raised their one-year price target to $800 a share from $600.

Shares of Tesla were down 7.81%, or $60.79 as share, at $718.01 in morning trading on Thursday.