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Tesla running into battery shortage

Electric car maker Tesla Motors has a battery problem. It doesn’t have enough of them.

That’s one reason the high-flying company’s shares suffered their biggest one-day percentage drop in nearly two years Wednesday.

CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday blamed a shortage of lithium-ion battery cells for trouble meeting demand for Tesla’s lone vehicle, the Model S. There won’t be any relief until next year, when a deal to get more batteries from supplier Panasonic kicks in, he said.

Some potential buyers in North America were left out as cars were diverted to Europe for sale to customers on a waiting list there, Musk said on a conference call after Tesla released third-quarter earnings.

Concerns about the battery shortage, as well as the costs Tesla will incur as it builds more cars, spooked some investors. The Palo Alto, Calif., company’s stock closed down $25.65, or 14.5 percent, at $151.16. That was the biggest one-day percentage drop since January of 2012.

Tesla investors have been antsy for a few weeks. Shares rose more than 400 percent in the year’s first nine months as Tesla turned a profit and won raves for the Model S, which starts at $70,000. But the shares are down 22 percent since Sept. 30, when shares hit an all-time closing high of $193.37.
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