• Nov 14, 2011
It's not always easy to tell how a company is performing just by looking at the numbers. In the second quarter of 2011, for example, Tesla Motors revenues hit a record $58 million, with losses of $59 million. This fell just short of Wall Street expectations, and Tesla stock took a beating. In the third quarter, Telsa matched its second quarter revenue numbers, but losses increased to $65 million. However, this was better than analysts had predicted, and Tesla's stock made a sharp turn for the better.
The third quarter losses were expected, since Telsa is still ramping up to produce the upcoming Model S and is also in development of the unrevealed Model X crossover. With the Model S sold out and a possible new deal to supply drivetrains to Daimler, analysts were more than willing to overlook Tesla's current red ink.

When it comes to sales of the signature Roadster, Tesla's numbers look very good overall. Sales of the electric sports car are up 22 percent from a year ago, and Tesla has now moved over 2,000 of the Lotus-bodied beauties. However, there's one area where Tesla's sales have not lived up to expectations. While potential buyers in some areas have have a hard time coming up with a vehicle, there remains a surplus of right-hand drive models.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a simple explanation for the EV's underperformance in the UK: he blamed the slow sales on "the continuing adverse impact on the Roadster via reruns of Top Gear."

Though a British court recently ruled that Top Gear's 2008 test drive of the roadster did not constitute libel, the shows summation of the car as something that, "in the real world, it doesn't seem to work" still has Tesla executives fuming. Musk has previously referred to the show as a "complete phony" that is "about as authentic as a Milli Vanilli concert."


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  • 48 Comments
      Bloomsbury
      • 3 Years Ago
      Or could it just be that they barely have any presence yet in the UK. I didn't even know you could buy it here, I assumed you'd have to import the car from the USA. I just looked on their website and they have an office in Maidenhead - not a good location. If they have some sitting around not selling, they should do more test drives. The car club I belong to has been lent one at their US branch, but the London branch hasn't been offered anything. Considering the type of people who are members and the cars they drive, that would seem like an obvious choice. Many of the members have bought cars after driving them via the club.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tesla could give me and a few other people free Roadsters and Model S's next summer to do a bit of sightseeing for a few months... I would show that it could work. I would just have to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road again.
        EVnerdGene
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ryan
        they drive on the right side of the road, not the wrong side
      Guillaume Séguin
      • 3 Years Ago
      Come on! A potential Tesla buyer has to be minded enough to realize that Top Gear are not to be taken seriously. What kind of rich person would get fooled by Clarksson's humour ? Probably some premiership soccer players but that's about it ...
      karlInSanDiego
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tesla's sold 2000 roadsters and 0 model S's. 2000 x $100,000 = $20,000,000 or $20M. Round that up to $25M if you want to use European $125,000 pricetag. Either way, you can only make revenue when you sell products. Tshirts, Model S down payments, and spareparts on these cars can't make up the difference between the $58M + $58M mentioned in the article and $25M which is the gross revenue that could have been made from sales (which actually should have been spread across the last several years. Are they including late seed money or govt. grants as revenue? Roll it all up and they're still years and a whole additional model generation away from breakeven. But I suppose solvency never registers with Wall St.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        They have some side deals where they supply parts to Toyota and Daimler. But I still don't quite understand their numbers. It does seem fishy but I haven't looked at the S-1s.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        Yikes. 2000 times $100,000 is not $20M, but 200 million. Tesla is doing fine. They've pre-sold their first years worth of Model S's. That's $490 million in revenue. If the next year they hit their poduction capacity of 20,000 that would be around 1.3 Billion. I can see why Musk is saying they should be seeing profit by mid 2013. Musk said he would personally pay back the government loan if Tesla falls short of their goals.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @karlInSanDiego
        "2000 x $100,000 = $20,000,000 or $20M.." I think you missed one zero in your calculation: 2000 x 100,000 = 200,000,000 (there's 8 zeros, not just 7). Plus, you can't just use the base price to figure out the average (your base prices is wrong too, the base roadster sells for $109k). Tesla sells a lot of options (it's very rare someone buys a base Roadster with no options; I think that's probably true of most cars too). They make a nice bit of money from developing and supplying components to Daimler and Toyota (probably the only/most profitable part of their business right now). Anyways, they are a public company so just look at their SEC filings if you have doubts about their revenue: http://ir.teslamotors.com/sec.cfm They made $14.4 million from development services and $43.2 million from automotive sales in the past quarter. Looking into the details, "automotive sales" includes both Roadster sales and EV components sold to other manufacturers. "Development services" only accounts for revenue from developing prototype EVs for automakers (doesn't include component sales).
      electronx16
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top Gear's greatest achievement is that it managed to convince it's critics that it's just entertainment and it's fans it's about facts. Too bad that concept even fooled the judge who completely missed how effective this show manages to spread the FUD about electric motoring under the guise of entertainment.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @electronx16
        Sounds like Fox News and WWE wrestling.
      Sukairain
      • 3 Years Ago
      Seriously Tesla's board of directors need to put a sock in Elon Musk's mouth unless he has to speak. He's not helping the cause through these publicity stunts.
      throwback
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a simple explanation for the EV's underperformance in the UK: he blamed the slow sales on "the continuing adverse impact on the Roadster via reruns of Top Gear." Sure, couldn't have anything to do with the fact it is a limited use $100k+ 2 seater, from a unknown brand. Europeans like their high end cars to have a certain pedigree, Tesla is just not there.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @throwback
        How many Tesla Roadsters are even available for purchase in the UK at the moment?
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Elon Musk is beginning to lose the plot. This is a guy whose in danger of taking himself too seriously. Musk hates to be laughed at, he also hates to lose. despite his considerable achievements, he's proving himself to be a humourless litigant on several different occasions. Elon Musk, doesn't want to right a wrong or correct an injustice, he wants to have his pound of flesh no matter how pitiful the insult! He is coming across as a bully. Nothing could be designed to lose him support and respect faster in the Anglo nations than being a 'poor sport'. Even those who criticised Top Gear and the BBC, are beginning find Musk's obsession with punishing a light entertainment show, disproportionate. Some months ago, I wrote a humorous swipe at Top Gear on ABG, and some other forums, in relation to Shanghai EV car show on the banks of the Whampoa river. [Quote] A live report from the BBC correspondent covering the opening of the Shanghai exhibition of Electric vehicles: (Reporter) A large crowd has gathered here in Pudong, to see Mr Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology for the People's Republic of China, open an exhibition of the latest in Electric Vehicles. Earlier the crowd was entertained by a spectacular Dance and Gymnastic display by the famous Shanghai Dance troupe, and we are told there will be a fire work display later to.......sorry, ah, I’m informed the Minister is about to speak, .... yes…he’s handing the keys of the most advanced and expensive EV produced by Geely Motors, to a person chosen at random from the crowd, who will be lucky enough to allowed the first test drive around the forecourt..... , it’s a tense moment as Minister Wan cuts the ribbon opening the..., Oh my goodness! WAIT , something seems to have gone amiss?... I can’t quite see…..Oh, my heavens, this is not good! ...not good at all!... I recognise the driver.., it's, definitely Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson !! ... Oh No,....the EV is speeding through the crowd ...who are scattering in panic ....what the..?? Oh my Lord.... he's driven straight into the Whampoa river!!! ... he's yelling something, … wait, it’s… I can just make out what he's yelling.......he’s yelling….."This car is RUBBISH!, d'y'hear, RUBBISH!, it doesn't even float!!". Mr. Clarkson is being rescued by a unit of the PRC 'Special Public Safety Police',........ and restrained by paramedics. The crowd is clapping politely, a little bemused at what has occurred. Well, the excitement is over... Minster Wan.... is continuing to speak...... (Clarkson’s, will appear on Wednesday in People’s Court No. 5 where his defence lawyer is expected to present evidence that his client suffered a breakdown due to being eating a surfeit of crow.) [/quote] Sometime later I got an email from the producers of Top Gear, asking permission to work the idea into the show as a skit! Those who can laugh at themselves, will always be winners in the court of public opinion, especially in the UK.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Elon's personality is like Jobs, has a huge ego (hates losing). Yet he still has a huge following, although a significant portion of people hates his guts (not from this ruling; most of these people hated him from the start). But a successful CEO might need a huge ego. It's a bit harder to take Top Gear's antics on EVs as just a joke, because most times it's not clearly a joke to people. People know about ICE cars enough to make a decent judgment (heck, most of them drive one everyday); but most people are completely ignorant about EVs (look at comments on EVs in mainstream news sources, probably 99% of the people there will make ignorant comments about them). I mean even after the libel judgment where the judge says BBC didn't imply that Tesla was misleading people on range (because reasonable people can tell the difference between track and normal driving), you still have people saying the judgment proves the Roadster can only go 55 miles.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          RE: It's a bit harder to take Top Gear's antics on EVs as just a joke, because most times it's not clearly a joke to people. You mean when Top Gear says that Audi and BMW drivers are, well, male appendages that that's not a figure of speech and that these people actually have some kind of birth defect. = )) Seriously though, Top Gear mixes humor with its coverage and that's been a part of a lot of news media shows for a long, long time. I don't see the problem here. Neither did the judge. RE: ...you still have people saying the judgment proves the Roadster can only go 55 miles. Who, where, when... Please provide links because I haven't seen anyone saying that. It should also be noted that Autoweek did only manage 96 miles of spirited driving on public roads with their Tesla. How you drive definitely impacts how far you can go in an EV. In an ICE car you pull over and gas up. In a Tesla roadster you call AAA. I'd like to say that Elon has overplayed his hand here but I suspect it's the opposite. Blaming media bias has worked recently in politics (sadly) and it looks like it may work for Elon Musk too.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Marco Polo
        I agree. Musk needs to focus on the Model S and forget what Top Gear did. For the most part, the review was positive. Of course the news media is playing up this comment from Musk to try and incite more news worthy articles for the future. This article doesn't mean that Musk will pursue the litigation beyond where it has already gone.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          "For the most part, the review was positive." BINGO. Yes, it was. And as the Judge stated, no reasonable person would expect track mileage to equate to regular daily-driven mileage, which is why the libel suit was a poor decision on Tesla's part. Instead of focusing on the positives, they brought media attention to the one small downfall - if you run it hard, it gets worse mileage (go figure).
      Smith Jim
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm not a regular viewer of Top Gear but I've been a car nut for about 40 years. I've read all the popular car magazines and they all have the same modus operandi. Auto journalists drive cars very hard and they mercilessly criticize any flaws. That's their job and that's what they're supposed to do. The large, established auto manufacturers are accustomed to this kind of rough treatment and they don't whine and cry about it. Large, established auto manufacturers exhaustively test and virtually beat the hell out their cars long before they get into the hands of the automotive journalists.
        PR
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        That's the point, Jim. REAL car reviews don't include falsehoods. The court and Top Gear both acknowledge that there were falsehoods in the Top Gear story. The argument that Top Gear successfully made was that Top Gear is not like actual serious car magazines and other journalistic sources that you say no other manufacturers every cry about. Top Gear argued (and the court agreed) that Top Gear were nothing more than comedians, and that absolutely nobody would take them seriously like they would take a popular car magazine. But here you are implying they are the same as actual truthful serious sources of car information. So you are undermining the Judge's ruling that there was no defamation.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @PR
          "...Top Gear both acknowledge that there were falsehoods in the Top Gear story." I don't think so. http://transmission.blogs.topgear.com/2011/04/02/tesla-vs-top-gear-andy-wilman-on-our-current-legal-action/ Indeed, the Judge reached his conclusion that there was no libel for different reason than you state. The judge stated, "This is because there is a contrast between the style of driving and the nature of the track as compared with the conditions on a public road […] are so great that no reasonable person could understand that the performance on the [Top Gear] track is capable of a direct comparison with a public road." It's not that any reasonable person would have though that Top Gear were being silly; it's that no reasonable person would expect a car to perform on a track the same way it does on the road. There was nothing untruthful about Top Gear's comments regarding the performance of the Roadster on the *track*. Which is why if Tesla really wanted to set things straight, they would prove their point on a track, not in a courtroom.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Getting the product "right" works wonders to bring consumers to your door. Ask Apple.
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Apple doesn't have to "fight against public ignorance, misconceptions and prejudices". In fact it's usually the opposite (Apple seems to have a halo around them, even products that might fail with another brand would at least sell decently with them, and the media loves them completely).
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Smith Jim
        Of course, Musk's competition "just" needs to get the car right, they don't need to fight against public ignorance, misconceptions and prejudices regarding a completely new powertrains that is fanned by the likes of Top Gear and Fox News under the guise of news/entertainment..
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      I will say it again: I googled Tesla Nurburgring and found no actual times or videos. Tesla knows what they have to do if they want their $110,000 sports car to be taken seriously. And they have the money to do it. So, why didn't they do it?????? Get out of the courtroom and onto the track.
        Grendal
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Musk should be focusing on the Model S and what it can do as opposed to the Roadster that isn't being built anymore. The Model S, Model X, and the new Roadster will be far more important in the long run than the original Roadster. Why bother to officially race a car that isn't made anymore - what's the point?
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          Why race anything, for that matter, right? It's a sports car, and that's what people do with them.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Grendal
          I agree. Tesla should have addressed this on the Nurburgring years ago. But they ddint. They are the ones who are dragging this stupidity on. Not Top Gear. If Tesla wants to drag Top Gear / BBC into court, the onus of proof is on Tesla. Put up or shut up.
        electronx16
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        I think that that what James May had to say about the Nurburgring actually made a lot more sense than his sad displays of ignorance regarding electric powertrains. He suggested Bomber Command should have focused it's efforts on the Nurburgring rather than German cities back in WW2. The world would have more pretty cities to enjoy today and less pointless cars that were altered to do better on the Nurburgring and worse anywhere else.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          "May's point was that adapting cars to ace the Nurburg ring is the exercise in futility, something nobody can accuse Tesla from apparently." I understand Mr. May's point, but I also pointed out that it doesn't ring true, because there will always be a basis of comparison. Likewise, while Tesla hasn't ever proven the Roadster on the 'Ring, it is constantly compared to and equated as an equal to cars which do excel on a racing track. The Roadster is marketed thusly: "With its world-class acceleration, handling, and design, the Roadster ranks amongst the world's most coveted sports cars. Its engineering has no equal." Tesla must have some method of backing this statement up. Other makers point to race victories and lap times to distinguish themselves from their competition. Meanwhile, Tesla complains that one short segment of an admittedly comedic TV show is the reason for their lack of sales - even though the transcript of the show in question is filled with complements and superlatives made about the Roadster's performance. In the "real world" of sporting enthusiasts who want a car to take to the track - the very people that would buy a limited-range, very-expensive two-seater - Tesla must prove themselves to that customer in order to win their patronage. Race the Roadster, is all we're saying, and Tesla will garner more good publicity than they could ever buy.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          If the 'Ring didn't exist, then we would use some other track for comparison. Mr. May's comment does have a sense of humor to it, but ultimately there will be some basis of comparison used by makers of performance vehicles. Which is what the Roadster is, right? Are you calling the Roadster a "pointless car" because it was designed with speed and handling in mind, as opposed to passenger comfort and seating?
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          "...but I guess all the more reason for the like of Fox News, Top Gear and yourself to trample it down as much as you can. Pointless indeed...." Trample it down, indeed! LOL, I'm trying to promote it - advocating racing it to show off its capabilities - and you misinterpret that as "trampling it down". Too funny! As to pointless, well, it's not exactly practical either. But just as any sports car is pointless, so too is the Roadster. Rather, its point is to provide maximum enjoyment to the owner. That's why I referred to it as "splendidly, wonderfully, gloriously" pointless. "About your desperate attempts to misinterpret my comments to score points: I won't play anymore; just play with yourself..." You're the one who responded to my comment, regarding proving the Roadster's worth, remember? You commented that the "Ring contributed to the development of "pointless cars" implying that cars developed for fun, acceleration, handling, grip, speed, etc. are somehow a problem - all the while ignoring the underlying fact that the Roadster was developed to show that BEVs could be all those things. The Tesla Roadster was developed by its very design to be pointless - nothing but a show of sheer fun and emotion - but its specific point was to be "...amongst the world's most coveted sports cars." There's one way to prove that statement true - race the Roadster!
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          Of course the Roadster is the car that inspired Bob Lutz to do the Volt (by his own admission), and in fact the car that put electric motoring on the map again after the great EV-1 massacre a few years earlier, but I guess all the more reason for the like of Fox News, Top Gear and yourself to trample it down as much as you can. Pointless indeed.... About your desperate attempts to misinterpret my comments to score points: I won't play anymore; just play with yourself...
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          I'm not suggesting the Roadster is pointless "lets take a walk" as you would have noticed if you had been less eager to score points at my expense and actually bothered to read my comment properly. May's point was that adapting cars to ace the Nurburg ring is the exercise in futility, something nobody can accuse Tesla from apparently.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          "Okay, so now we have established that it's you who is suggesting the Roadster is pointless because it hasn't proven itself on the Nurburgring. Fair enough, everybody is entitled to his opinion, just don't suggest it's mine. " I asked you if that was what you were trying to say; your answer indicated that you weren't. Why do you feel the need to put words into my mouth? (Although, yes, I do think the Roadster is a splendidly, wonderfully, gloriously pointless car for the wealthy!) And sadly, I think you fail to see the sarcastic humour in Mr. May's comment. I very much doubt he would really suggest such a terrible fate for such a historic circuit. He comments that the 'Ring might not be the best method of establishing automotive road manners, but he never advocates its destruction. Rather he refers to it as a pleasant place... "It's an old race track, the longest in the world, and it's open to anyone. It's pleasantly informal for something German and even rather scenic in places. driving around the 'Ring for a laugh – and I have done this a few times – is harmless, unless you collide with the Armco, the trees, that big fence or any of the other obstacles that prompted motorsport's governing bodies to declare it unfit for Formula one racing. " http://web.archive.org/web/20090614055912/http://www.topgear.com/us/blog/more/why-the-ring/
          electronx16
          • 3 Years Ago
          @electronx16
          Okay, so now we have established that it's you who is suggesting the Roadster is pointless because it hasn't proven itself on the Nurburgring. Fair enough, everybody is entitled to his opinion, just don't suggest it's mine. I'm with May on this one: they should have bombed the place... About the nice things in the Top Gear transcript: Top Gear knows very well that the only thing that will stick in the collective mind is the picture of the car being pushed because "it doesn't work in the real world". You know the real world with important real world issues like Nurburgring laptimes...
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dave
        The most widely accepted form of advertisement to prospective sports car buyers: Lap Times! Set some, Tesla. Show what you've got.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm with Tesla on this one. Top Gear is full of sh-t.
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Its not an either-or. Musk and Clarkson are both media ******. And neither should be taken at their word.
        tgsid
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick
        Oh, Come on! Tesla has filed 2 lawsuits in less than ten years. They haven't sold that many cars. Where are they getting this money? Besides, The judge ruled against Tesla in both Lawsuits. Plus, Tesla has had 2 recalls in 2 years! (09 and 10)
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Years Ago
      Top gear is right, this car is costly and under performing, don't trust the look, it's deceptive. It's something dangeurous to drive fast with a high center of gravity and a lot of weight. It's unbalanced from nose to tail. It has hyper miling tires made to go slow. It cost 4x the value. Only nerds has falling for this piece of brainwash.
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