New York
CNN
 — 

Tesla shares plunged more than 11% in early trading Tuesday, as weaker than expected global sales caused the company’s massive slide in its share price that began last year to continue.

Tesla reported record 2022 sales of 1.3 million vehicles, up 40% from the 2021 total, but well below the 50% growth target the company set early in the year. While it had already warned it would miss that aggressive full-year target, its fourth quarter sales of 405,278 cars was far weaker than feared. It represented growth of only 31% from a year earlier, and was well below the median estimate of 431,000 according to analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The company’s shares ended 2022 down 65% for the year, greatly cutting into Musk’s net worth and knocking him out of his position as the world’s richest person. It was the worst year ever for Tesla shares, which gained 743% in 2020 and another 50% in 2021.

The drop in sales came despite the company’s two price cuts in December for US buyers who completed their purchase by year end. The fact that global sales were well short of the 439,000 cars it built in the period raised new concerns about weakening demand for Tesla cars in the face of numerous headwinds. These include higher interest rates, increased EV competition from established automakers along with upstart EV makers, and backlash against Tesla CEO Elon Musk since his controversial takeover of Twitter early in the quarter.

“Demand overall is starting to crack a bit for Tesla and the company will need to adjust and cut prices more especially in China, which remains the key to the growth story,” said Dan Ives, tech analyst for Wedbush Securities. “The Cinderella ride is over for Tesla.”

– CNN’s David Goldman contributed to this report

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