This week electric vehicle (EV) trailblazer Tesla reported a sharp dip in quarterly sales, sparking concern of a global slowdown in EV growth. 

In the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, Tesla delivered 386,810 electric cars, representing a 20% decline from Q4 2023’s deliveries. The company’s shares fell approximately 5% as a result of poor sales growth, the Financial Times reports.

In a press release published on Tuesday, the company partially attributed the disappointing sales to factory shutdowns resulting from shipping diversions caused by the Red Sea conflict, as well as an arson attack at the Tesla gigafactory outside Berlin. 

The good news for Tesla is that despite the fall in deliveries, the company managed to reclaim the crown as top EV seller globally from China-based BYD, which  reported a 42% quarterly fall in battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales, delivering just 300,114 BEVs in the first quarter of this year. Poor performance on the part of both companies signals bad news for the global EV market, which is expected to stall this year, according to a January analysis from research company Canalys. 

Canalys said earlier this year that while EV growth in 2024 is expected to remain “solid”, with a year-on-year growth rate of 27.1%, a reduction in state subsidies has meant that the growth rate for this year is slower than the estimated annual growth rate of 29% observed in 2023.

The researchers added that the North American EV market is expected grow by 26.8% in 2024 – slightly below the global average – while market penetration in the region is expected to sit at just 12.5% in 2024, well below the global average of 17.1%.

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In the UK, EVs have become collateral damage in the Conservative government’s rollback on net-zero policies, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having either scrapped or watered down key policies aimed at reducing the share of diesel cars on British roads. 

Since the closure of the UK’s temporary 'plug-in' grant in summer 2022, which offered discounts on new, low-emissions vehicles, the UK has become the only major European market with no BEV incentives.