People view cars in a Tesla showroom in Los Angeles, the US. Picture: AFP/MARK RALSTON
People view cars in a Tesla showroom in Los Angeles, the US. Picture: AFP/MARK RALSTON

New York — As the challenges for Tesla continue to mount, the shares of the company are plunging sharply, falling below $200 for the first time since December 2016 on Monday.

The stock has been struggling in 2019, down nearly 41% to date, but the recent deepening trade rift between US and China, cost-cutting moves, fallout from a fatal crash involving Autopilot and cautious commentary from Wall Street analysts have sent the shares into a free fall.

In a note on Sunday, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said the electric-carmaker faced a “Kilimanjaro-like uphill climb” to hit profitability goals in the second half of the year, while Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill said the latest report from the National Transportation Safety Board on a fatal Tesla crash “could cast doubt on Tesla’s self-driving capabilities, which have been highly touted by Mr Musk”.

“The Autopilot feature has been an integral component of the company’s perceived competitive differentiation and hence its high valuation,” Gill wrote in a note to clients, adding that any signs of safety issues surrounding the feature could cause the value of Tesla’s brand and its share price to deteriorate.

Tesla shares dropped as much as 7.3% to $195.56 in New York on Monday, touching the lowest level since December 13.

Bloomberg