RBC Capital values Tesla FSD above its car business

RBC Capital values Tesla FSD above its car business

RBC Capital values Tesla’s progress in autonomy—or Full Self-Driving (FSD)—above the company’s car business. RBC Capital believes that Tesla’s one-month free FSD trial might be a catalyst in Q2 2024. 

“Worst case [Tesla FSD] brings folks into the showroom, and best case, it increased the FSD attach rate and possibly increases 3/Y deliveries,” wrote RBC Capital analyst Tom Narayan.

“We also value autonomy above the car business and think that the FSD free trial could potentially be more important for the Tesla investment thesis longer term than Q1’s delivery miss.”

Narayan reiterated the investment bank’s Outperform rating for Tesla and released a price target of $290.00. Last month, he increased Tesla’s price target by $1 from $297 to $298. Despite his positivity toward Tesla, Narayan commented that sentiments toward the company are negative right now since it reported “softer than expected” deliveries. 

Tesla’s Q1 2024 deliveries saw an 8.5% year-over-year decline. It delivered approximately 386,810 vehicles in the first quarter. Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles accounted for most vehicle deliveries of 369,783. Other Tesla models, like the Cybertruck, Model S, and Model X, accounted for 17,027 deliveries. 

The investment bank enumerated a few factors that might have affected Tesla’s deliveries in the first quarter, including factory shutdowns due to the arson attack at Giga Berlin and shipping issues caused by the Red Sea conflict. It also factored in pre-buy coming into Q4 2203 because the Model 3’s tax credits from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) were expiring. However, RBC Capital does wonder if Tesla was also hit by the EV demand slowdown in the United States. 

By 2035, RBC Capital predicts that Tesla will sell ~2.5 million vehicles per year in North America, ~800,000 in Western Europe, and ~1.7 million in China. The investment bank also forecasts that Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y vehicles will account for ~2.3 million units sold yearly, and the Model 2 will account for ~3 million units sold per year at maturity.

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