September 26, 2017 / 5:20 PM / 2 years ago

Tesla's stock sputters as signs of competition increase

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Shares of Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) remained in a correction on Tuesday after a billionaire British inventor announced plans for his own electric vehicles, taking the shine off an analyst prediction that Tesla’s cars would be commonplace within two years.

FILE PHOTO: Tesla Supercharger station are seen in Taipei, Taiwan August 11, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

Tesla’s stock ended 0.07 percent higher, surrendering most of an earlier 1.7 percent gain in a volatile session. After losses in recent days, it remained down 10 percent from a record high on Sept. 18.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas estimated in a note that nearly 300,000 Tesla vehicles would be on the road by the end of 2017.

“Hope you like the way the Model 3 looks, because you’re just going to see a lot more of them,” Jonas wrote. “However, as vehicle scarcity changes in such a short period of time, will the car be as cool anymore? We can’t possibly say.”

Underscoring growing competition, however, James Dyson, inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, said at a London event on Tuesday that his company was building an electric car that will launch by 2020.

Dyson said his company would spend 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) on solid-state battery technology and vehicle design and that a 400-member team of engineers had already spent 2-1/2 years working on the secret project.

Also on Tuesday, Arnoud Balhuizen, chief commercial officer at global miner BHP BLT.L, warned that growth in electric car production would put pressure on limited global copper supplies.

He said electric cars use four times as much copper as cars that run on combustion engines, and that no major discoveries of the red metal have been made in the past two decades.

Swiss engineering group ABB (ABBN.S) said it would join a project by Northvolt to build Europe’s largest lithium-ion battery factory in Sweden to cater for expected demand growth for electric cars.

Former Tesla executive Peter Carlsson’s Northvolt wants the plant to rival the U.S. electric carmaker’s Gigafactory in the Nevada desert.

With many on Wall Street betting that Tesla will establish itself as a major electric car seller before General Motors Co (GM.N) and other rivals can catch up, its stock has surged 62 percent in 2017.

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has promised to boost car production to 500,000 vehicles next year, close to six times its 2016 output, a target that many auto industry experts believe is unrealistic.

Many investors define a correction as a 10 percent decline. In July, Tesla lost 18 percent over nine sessions before recovering and advancing to new highs.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Dan Grebler and Meredith Mazzilli

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