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Published on February 21st, 2013 | by Adam Johnston


Tesla Motors Expects Small Profit In Q1 Of 2013; Reports $306 Million Revenue In Q4 Of 2012

February 21st, 2013 by  

Tesla Motors expects to make a small profit in the first quarter of 2013, with the critically acclaimed Model S especially helping to move EV company slowly into profitable territory.

Green Car Congress notes that Tesla’s 2012 fourth quarter revenues were $306 million, a whopping 500% increase from the third quarter of 2011. The increase in revenue was due to firm demand for the Model S, which won Motor Trend‘s 2013 Car of the Year, with Motor Trend writing, “By any measure, the Tesla Model S is a truly remarkable automobile.”

Image Credit: Tesla Model S via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

Image Credit: Tesla Model S via Flickr (Some Rights Reserved)

Solid orders to Toyota from their RAV4 EV program (which uses Tesla technology) provided some further underlying support in the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter total gross margin’s advanced to 8%, compared to -17% in the third quarter. Tesla attributed much of the increase to higher production in the Model S, as CEO Elon Musk and CFO Deepak Ahuja noted:

Since we are now producing cars at steady state production, we have shifted our focus to cost reduction. As a result, the cost of producing Model S is beginning to decline. Our operations in 2013 are already more efficient compared to Q4, as we continue to stabilize and improve the production process. In addition, further cost reduction efforts undertaken by both us and our suppliers will continue to reduce costs in Q1 and in upcoming quarters. Consequently, we expect gross margin to continue to improve towards our 25% target by year-end.

Overall, 2012 Q4 saw net losses after accounting rules of $90 million (or close to $70 million before accounting rules).

Complete 2012 revenues were $413.3 million, which was double 2011 levels of $204.2. Most of the revenue — $385.7 million — came from automobile sales. 12 million in total development services revenue, thanks to various projects through the Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV program, helped shore up further revenue for the EV car maker. Total net losses in 2012 after accounting rules were $396.2 million, and $344.2 million before.

While Tesla has faced lots of challenges in getting towards the black ink, it looks like it’s finally starting to head in the right direction, thanks to the Model S. For those Tesla haters out there, they should consider the company is fairly new in terms of automobile manufacturers (only in business since 2003). That is only ten years, not a long time to start competing with conventional car companies like GM, Ford, Toyota, and Nissan.

Tesla has the advantage of infrastructure (compared to twenty or thirty years ago) and new technology, which helps make electric vehicles more commercially viable. Web-based technologies, like its recent mobile app for the Model S, are giving more consumers more convenience, thus helping Tesla in the car market.

With 20,000 Model S cars set to hit the market in 2013, it will likely be a big year for the company. Can Tesla keep the upward momentum up? With a loyal support base, I’d say that: expect it to grow even more, driving towards long-term financial sustainability and profit.

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About the Author

Is currently studying at the School of the Environment Professional Development program in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto. Adam graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Adam also writes for Solar Love and also owns his own part time tax preparation business. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst, and is currently sharpening his skills as a renewable energy writer. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at

  • Telsa is 95% smoke -n – mirrors.

    They have never published complete on-road tests to “useful -end – of life” on their battery packs . Why hasn’t Tesla shown us their on-road test results from a 100,000 mile driving, in the searing heat of Arizona weather and the freezing cold of a Illinois winter. When a-c had to be used to cool and the heater was to warm during the 100,000 miles driven.

    Show where the battery was charged and how often it was fast charged in the 100,000 test drive. What was the longest distance driven at what average speed and time it took to fast charge and get back on the road.

    How long will the battery last to useful end of life..and cost to buy and install new battery.
    Until these questions are answered by Tesla about the battery pack, which is the Achilles heel their electric cars. Then the 95% smoke -n – mirrors should apply

    • Nealicus

      What is not smoke and mirrors is their demand and their increase in earnings. They are ahead of schedule in their pursuit of being profitable and their demand continues to outpace their current building capacity. Despite the shorts wanting this company to crash and burn, it’s doing okay for itself.

      • It’s also won quite a few “best car” awards. Guess those auto journalists and gearheads don’t know what they’re talking about.

    • Luke

      Yeah… okay… let’s test this battery for 8 years before we release this car at all. It’s not f*king possible, mate.

    • arne-nl

      The Model S has gotten rave reviews by everyone who could lay their hands on it, including those in the mainstream car press. It got MotorTrend car of the year award. They are being delivered in the thousands. Yet in your universe a tangible, highly desirable product only counts for 5%. Methinks you have have some explaining to do about what the other 95% is. I can’t figure it out.

      About battery lifetime, this might ring a bell: Yup, that’s how product development & testing is done in the 21st century. Put a battery on a test bench and have it go over 200,000 km of use in a few months. Including everything: extreme temperatures, vibrations, fast charging, etc.

      The cells are supplied by Panasonic, who have decades of experience in battery development and production. They know their products inside and out and have a thing or two to say about calendar life (the one thing you can’t speed up on a test bench).

      Stop acting like a troll.

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