What happened

Tesla (TSLA -5.80%) shareholders trailed the market as the stock shed 15% compared to a 4% jump in the S&P 500 index, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The decline added to a tough period for investors in the electric automobile giant, with shares down over 20% so far in 2019 compared to double-digit gains in broader market indexes.

A man smiles while being handed keys to a new car.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Tesla's April slump came as the company announced surprisingly weak first-quarter sales, with demand for key products like the Model S and Model X cooling off. The slowdown contributed to significant losses in the automaker's fiscal first quarter as red ink landed at $522 million.

Now what

CEO Elon Musk and his team are predicting a sharp rebound in automobile deliveries such that its longer-term shipment and production targets will all be met. However, many observers of the stock believe that optimistic outcome will be hard to achieve.

Given the widely conflicting views about Tesla's short-term growth potential, then, the stock is likely to stay volatile over the next few quarters. Shareholders can count on big swings as the uncertainty around 2019 vehicle demand resolves itself -- in one direction or the other.