Tesla shares slip after report says China sales sank 70% in October

Key Points
  • Shares of Tesla signal a lower opening after a Chinese official reportedly tells Reuters that data show the carmaker sold just 211 autos in the world's largest market in October.
  • Tesla highlighted the ongoing trade spat between the U.S. and China when it reported production numbers last month.
  • The company also said in October that China has put an import tariff of 40 percent on its vehicles, compared with 15 percent for other autos imported to China.
Elon Musk speaks on stage during the Westworld Featured Session during SXSW at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas.
FilmMagic | HBO | Getty Images

Shares of electric car maker Tesla fell in Tuesday's premarket following a report that its vehicle sales in China plunged 70 percent in October from a year ago.

An official at China's passenger car association reportedly told Reuters that data from the industry body showed Tesla sold just 211 cars in the world's largest auto market in October.

A Tesla spokesperson offered the following comment to CNBC:

"This is wildly inaccurate. While we do not disclose regional or monthly sales numbers, these figures are off by a significant margin."

Tesla shares signaled an opening price decline of 1.7 percent.

Tesla imports all of the vehicles it sells in China, highlighting how the ongoing trade dispute between the United States and China is hampering the U.S. automaker, which is led by Elon Musk.

In announcing its third-quarter production numbers last month, Tesla said it was able to "significantly increase" deliveries of its Model S and Model X cars "notwithstanding the headwinds we have been facing from the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China."

The electric vehicle company pointed out that China has put an import tariff of 40 percent on Tesla vehicles, compared with 15 percent for other vehicles imported to China. Tesla said it costs 55 percent to 60 percent more to make its vehicles than "the exact same car" made by Chinese producers.

Despite the drop in share prices, Tesla's stock is well ahead of the broader U.S. equity market in 2018. The automaker was up more than 11 percent through Monday's close since January versus the flat performance.

—CNBC's Michael Sheetz contributed reporting.

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