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Tesla vehicle deliveries slip in the second quarter

Visitors gather around a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on April 25.

Visitors gather around a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition on April 25.

(Associated Press)

Tesla Motors shipped fewer autos to customers in the last three months, making it unlikely to meet prior expectations for delivering 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles this year.

The Palo Alto maker of electric autos said Sunday that it delivered 14,370 vehicles in the April to June quarter, a decline of 450 vehicles from the first quarter that Tesla attributed to an “extreme production ramp up” and a number of custom-ordered vehicles still being shipped.

Tesla said it anticipates delivering 50,000 vehicles in the second half of the year. Although that second-half target would match its vehicle deliveries for all of 2015, it would still be just shy of the guidance provided by the company in April.

The revised expectations arrive at a delicate moment for Tesla, which has excited drivers and investors alike by the promise of gasoline-free autos and drummed up significant hype over its upcoming Model 3, pitched as an electric car for the masses.

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But it now faces some wariness after a May crash that appears to have resulted from its automated driving system.

The company drew scrutiny last week as details emerged about the death of a driver using Tesla’s semi-autonomous mode.

Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, died in the accident May 7 in Williston, Fla., when his Tesla Model S failed to automatically activate its brakes and crashed into a tractor-trailer.

In a blog post, Tesla Motors Inc. said the 2015 car passed under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer hitting the Model S’ windshield.

“Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said. The automaker emphasized that its autopilot feature is still in a public beta phase.

“Autopilot is getting better all the time but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert,” the company said in the post.

Tesla’s shares dropped 3% in after-hours trading after the government said it would investigate the crash.

And late last month, Tesla founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk announced plans to spend up to $2.8 billion buying solar panel maker SolarCity, a separate company he founded and for which he serves as chairman of the board. Investors appear to dislike the all-stock bid as Tesla’s shares dropped after the announcement.

In the last three months, Tesla stock has fallen 13% to $216.50.

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