Tesla Roadster Sport - Click above to enlarge

Seven years into its existence Tesla Motors has achieved a milestone few Silicon Valley startups ever manage: the company was profitable in July 2009. According to a press release from the company today, its July revenues, approximately $20 million, exceeded its expenses by about $1 million. Since Tesla is still a privately held company, it has no obligation to disclose its finances nor to give details on its sales. Thus, Tesla has been very selective about what information it publishes. With that in mind let's take a little look beyond the surface.

In July, the company had its best month yet for Roadster deliveries with 109 cars being placed in customer hands. That in itself is a major achievement for a start-up automaker and is deserving of praise. If we assume an average transaction price of $130,000 with options that comes to $14.2 million in revenue. I'm not a financial expert, but I'm told that the deposits for Model S can't be booked as revenue. That leaves about $6 million in revenue which likely came almost entirely from Daimler for battery packs and charging systems for the Smart ED. That won't be ongoing revenue and in all likelihood is at least break even if not profitable.

While Roadsters reportedly had a surge in sales in July, Tesla still isn't say what the net sales are after subtracting cancellations. If net sales of the Roadster don't pick up soon, the profits could be short lived. Let's hope not.


[Source: Tesla Motors, Tesla Motors Club]

Press release

Tesla Motors attains profitability milestone

Electric vehicle manufacturer achieves record deliveries in July and will significantly expand in Europe this quarter.

August 7, 2009

SAN CARLOS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE) -Tesla Motors attained a significant milestone in July when it achieved overall corporate profitability with approximately $1 million of earnings on revenue of $20 million.

Tesla reached overall corporate profitability while continuing to develop the all-electric Model S sedan and opening regional sales and service centers. Profitability arose primarily from improved gross margin on the Roadster 2, the second iteration of Tesla's award-winning sports car.

Tesla shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and enjoyed a surge in new Roadster purchases. In the third quarter, the privately held company will make significant deliveries to European customers while expanding its presence in several countries.

"We achieved a bottom-line profitability thanks to a tremendous amount of hard work by the Tesla team to improve quality, while simultaneously reducing costs on the Roadster," said Tesla CEO and Product Architect Elon Musk. "This also shows that there is strong demand for a car that is unique in offering high performance with a clean conscience. Moreover, customers know that in buying the Roadster they are helping fund development of our mass market electric cars."

The highly acclaimed Roadster -- faster than a Porsche and twice as energy efficient as a Toyota Prius – is the only highway-capable electric vehicle for sale in North America or Europe. It's the first production EV to travel more than 200 miles per charge and the first US- and EU-certified Lithium-Ion battery electric vehicle. With an estimated range of 244 miles per charge and zero tailpipe emissions, it offers supercar performance with a clean conscience.

The Roadster 2, which Tesla is building and shipping to customers now, features an array of enhancements. Those include a more powerful heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system, more comfortable seats and a more luxurious dashboard and cabin.

Last month Tesla began delivering the Roadster Sport, an even higher performance car that does 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, compared to 3.9 seconds for the standard Roadster. The Sport includes a more powerful motor, custom-tuned suspension and forged wheels. A customer's Roadster Sport sprinted the quarter-mile in 12.643 seconds in late July, setting a class record in the National Electric Drag Racing Association.

Financing Now Available

Last month, Tesla announced Roadster financing through Bank of America. Financing means the Roadster can have lower total monthly costs than a gas-guzzling sports car with a similar sticker price. Prospective customers may complete loan documents in Tesla's showrooms or online.

The Roadster is six times as energy-efficient as comparable sports cars – yet it does not require routine oil changes or exhaust system work. Roadsters have far fewer moving (and breakable) parts than internal combustion engine sports cars, which need replacement such as spark plugs, pistons, hoses, belts and clutches. The Roadster costs roughly $4 to fully recharge – a bargain even when gasoline costs less than $1 per gallon.

Tesla sells cars online and at showrooms in California (Menlo Park and West Los Angeles), New York City, Seattle and London. Tesla is rapidly expanding its network of showrooms this summer with stores in Chicago, South Florida, Washington DC, Toronto, Munich and Monaco.

Tesla has developed an industry-leading mobile service team, including highly skilled technicians who make "house calls" to customers' homes or offices in every region where Tesla sells cars. Electric vehicles have far fewer moving (and breakable) parts than internal combustion engine vehicles. They qualify for federal and state tax credits, rebates, sales tax exemptions, free parking, commuter-lane passes and other perks.

Tesla, which in June won Department of Energy approval for $465 million in low-interest loans, is deep into the development of the Model S. The all-electric sedan will have a base price of $49,900, roughly half the price of the Roadster. Reducing unit cost on the Roadster is helping Tesla to bring the Model S to market at a vastly lower price point, paving the way to mass-market EVs for mainstream buyers.

In addition to the Model S program, Tesla is jointly developing an electric version of the popular Smart car with Daimler. The first of an initial test fleet of 1,000 electric Smart cars are expected to be on the road in late 2009.


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