Tesla Model X Registration Falls for Second Straight Quarter

Falcon doors and a high price tag may be too much for the American market, according to new-vehicle registration data.

Tesla

With SUVs eclipsing every other car sales category in America, it's a shock to see anything but an upward trend among crossovers. But such may be the case with the Tesla Model X, according to a report from Bloomberg Pursuits. Using new-vehicle registration data from IHS Markit, the Bloomberg piece shows Model X registrations falling for the second straight quarter in Q1 of 2017.

Tesla, which does not release sales figures for individual vehicles, pushed back on the report, with a spokesperson telling the publication that Tesla had "worked through a backlog of Model X orders from overseas markets and built up supply of the SUVs in its test-drive fleet during the first quarter, both of which impacted U.S. registrations."

Tesla's global deliveries of the SUV have continued to grow, including in Q1 of 2017, for five straight quarters, according to the same piece. And Model S, the company's luxury sedan, has seen skyrocketing sales of late.

Still, Model X, a vehicle that was expected to help Tesla expand its production in preparation for the Model 3, was dogged early by poor reviews thanks in part to technology issues, the vehicle's gimmicky Falcon doors, and $82,500 base price. Tesla head Elon Musk seems to have expected a bit of this in the beginning, but perhaps not as much as current figures show. Musk said on an earnings call earlier in May:

“Model X became kind of like a technology bandwagon of every cool thing we could imagine all at once ...That is a terrible strategy.”

Many market specialists agreed. Jake Fisher, director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, said in a phone interview with Automotive News:

“SUVs are popular because of utility, and this is an SUV that doesn’t have a lot of utility ...The X was a big science experiment to say, ‘How far can we go?’ And they went too far.”

Expect Tesla to take a different approach to the Model 3. For that car, Tesla that will develop and sell the simplest examples first. Musk released in a tweet Monday that he "was an idiot" for not taking the same angle with the Model X, which, if new-vehicle registration data is any indication, may have impacted early sales of the vehicle.