Tesla greases supply-chain fears

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks next to the company's newest Model S during the Model S Beta Event held at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California October 1, 2011. The Model S is the company's first full-size electric sedan set for release in 2012.

NEW YORK, Oct 3 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Tesla (TSLA.O) is growing again, but there’s little comfort for the industry. The $760 billion electric-vehicle manufacturer produced nearly 366,000 cars in the third quarter, a 41% increase from the previous three-month stretch that also reversed a first-half slump. The number of cars it delivered to customers, however, fell 5% short of what analysts were expecting, which the company attributed to shipping woes. Tesla shares tumbled 8% on Monday.

Freighters that haul vehicles have experienced a sticky price surge since the pandemic started despite broader supply-chain improvement. Various measures of shipping rates, including Drewry’s World Container Index and the Baltic Dry index (.BADI) – down 20% this year – show cost pressures elsewhere easing. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Global Supply Chain Pressure Index (XWGSCP=ECI) has declined for four straight months to its lowest reading since January 2021.

Put it altogether, and the changes imply that the car business keeps struggling even with signs of improving access to microchips and moderating costs in other sectors. Ford Motor (F.N), for one, issued a profit warning for the third quarter. With additional problems mounting, Tesla and its peers are spinning their wheels. (By Jonathan Guilford)

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(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are their own.)

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