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Tesla shares slow as peers push self-driving cars

October 4, 2018

The market euphoria triggered Monday by Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk’s weekend settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission is quickly fading.

After a sharp 17 percent gain following news that Musk will stay on as CEO at Tesla while relinquishing the chairman’s role, shares of the electric carmaker have fallen nearly 10 percent in three sessions. They’re down as much as 5.8 percent today, and the strides made by traditional automakers this week in the race to develop self-driving cars probably isn’t helping investor sentiment.

On Wednesday, General Motors Co. – widely regarded as one of the leaders in autonomous vehicles (AV) – won another vote of confidence when Honda Motor Co. invested $2.75 billion in its self-driving Cruise unit. That was followed by a major partnership between Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., which will develop and deploy ride-hailing and self-driving car technologies.

There was also a ranking of partially automated driving systems from Consumer Reports that found Cadillac’s Super Cruise in the top spot, beating Tesla’s Autopilot, which came in second.

On Thursday, Tesla reported third-quarter vehicle safety statistics, registering one accident or crash-like event for every 3.34 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.

Tesla shares have been on a wild ride the past few months, owing to issues unrelated to the fundamental operations of the company, specifically Musk’s sudden declaration in August that he intended to take Tesla private. That led to an SEC lawsuit, but the settlement gave investors hope that attention would return to what really mattered – Tesla’s ability to profitably produce cars.

But strong delivery and production figures for the third quarter, released on Tuesday, failed to rejuvenate the stock. Analysts said Tesla’s valuation already reflected expectations for good numbers, and shares closed down 3.1 percent that day.

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