Tesla shares tumble after company unveils ‘underwhelming’ Model Y

Tesla CEO Elon Musk at an unveiling event for its new Model Y cars.
Stephen Desaulniers | CNBC

Tesla shares tumbled in morning trading Friday, hours after the company unveiled the Model Y crossover utility vehicle that some Wall Street analysts are calling ‘underwhelming.’

“We thought the unveiling was a disappointment and are seeing a classic ‘sell the news’ situation this morning,” CFRA analyst Garrett Nelson told CNBC.

CEO Elon Musk dove into one of the hottest segments in the automotive market with the long-awaited debut of the Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

“It’s wild to think about, 11 years ago today we’d made literally one car. And a year from now we’ll have made a million,” Musk said.

The electric car maker’s stock fell by about 4 percent in intraday trading, further straining shares that are down by more than 16 percent and have lost more than $7.4 billion in market value so far this year. The company, which was valued at $50 billion as of Thursday’s close, faces increased competition and mounting pressure on profit margins as it tries to lower prices on its lineup of all-electric vehicles.

The Model Y will cost $39,000 to $60,000 depending on the extras and is about 10 percent bigger than Tesla’s Model 3 midsize sedan. It features seven seats, a panoramic glass roof and 66 cubic feet of cargo space, Musk said, showing off a Model Y prototype at the Tesla Design Center on Thursday night.

Nelson said the car design was “more or less” what he expected.

“The problem was the timing of first deliveries,” Nelson said. “At the Tesla shareholder meeting last June, Musk said that first Model Y deliveries were likely in the first half of 2020, now he’s saying fall 2020 for higher-priced versions and spring 2021 for the $39,000 version.”

Competition is really heating up against Tesla with company’s from Ford to Ferrari planning to introduce their own all-electric lineups in the coming years.

“Tesla is going to face significantly increased EV competition starting with the 2021 model year vehicle, which will be available starting in the spring of 2020,” he said.

Others were more sanguine on the prospects for the vehicle.

“As we had the opportunity to test drive the car, we were very impressed with the interior and feel of the Model Y on the road as it did not drive like a crossover SUV,” Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a research note Friday. This could be a major competitive advantage for Tesla, he added.

The total market for crossovers is “massive,” Ives said. Over the next three years, the Model Y could make up 15 to 20 percent of overall unit sales for Tesla, “and thus be a major shot in the arm for Musk & Co. going forward.”

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