Elon Musk claims his tweets boost Tesla

Controversial Tesla boss Elon Musk has rejected suggestions his Twitter use damaged the electric vehicle brand, telling a meeting with investors his online following proved he was a popular business leader.

But he said the US automaker, which sold a record number of electric vehicles in 2022, would need to brace for a "pretty difficult recession" in 2023 and counted Chinese car brands among its closest competitors.

Tesla, which cut as much as $3400 from the price of its cars in Australia this month, is the leading electric vehicle brand in the country, representing almost 60 per cent of electric cars sold in 2022.

Australian Electric Vehicle Association president Chris Jones said Tesla was likely to "remain the market leader" in Australia for some time even though it would face greater competition this year from brands including BYD, Polestar and MG.

"We'll see another increase in makes and models coming to Australia (in 2023)," he said. "We might see a bit more price competition as well."

The question about the billionaire's social media use came one day after he faced a San Francisco court over a 2018 tweet about securing investment for a Tesla buyout.

The class action lawsuit claims his online statement misled investors.

Asked about his public statements in the financial results call on Thursday, the Tesla CEO said his Twitter account had amassed 127 million followers and "continues to grow very rapidly".

"That suggests I'm reasonably popular. I might not be popular with some people but for the vast majority of people my follower count speaks for itself," he said.

"I think Twitter is an actually an incredible tool for driving demand for Tesla and I really encourage companies out there of all kinds, automotive or otherwise, to make more use of Twitter."

Tesla suffered its worst year on the stock market in 2022, with its shares falling 65 per cent from the start of 2021.

But figures revealed by the car brand showed it delivered 1.3 million electric vehicles to customers during the year, up from more than 930,000 in 2021, and delivered more than 400,000 between October and December.

Tesla also received a record number of orders for electric cars in January, though those orders followed modest price cuts in Asia Pacific countries and cuts of up to 20 per cent in the US and European markets.

Mr Musk said all car makers were likely to face slowing sales in 2022, making price an important factor.

"The price really matters. There's a vast number of people who want to buy a Tesla car but can't afford it so these price changes really make a difference for the average consumer."