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Once against fast-tracked startup is making a profit

Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) made waves in June 2010 when it went public, taking the brainchild of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk to a new level of exposure.  But in the wake of the IPO, Tesla was in for a bumpy ride as it wound down sales of its pricey Roadster electric sports car, and attempted to transition into the mid-range luxury market with its upcoming Model S design.  Share prices fell and the company went from turning profits to blowing money fast.

But much like Elon Musk's other startup, SpaceX, Tesla in the end delivered, launching the Model S to market around the time frame it had hoped to, despite some minor delays.

Amidst a market where EV makers are typically full of excuses, delays, and cancellations, Tesla -- like its commercial spacecraft counterpart -- is a rarity.  Now CEO and co-founder Elon Musk brings more good news.

On Monday in a message to his 112,000 Twitter followers, the CEO posted, "Am happy to report that Tesla was narrowly cash flow positive last week.  Continued improvement expected through year end."

The Tesla Model S has returned the EV automaker to positive cashflow.

Currently, Tesla is racing to fulfill demand for the Model S, whose price will be bumped $2,500 to $59,900 USD on Jan. 1.  The vehicles, however, are eligible for a $7,500 USD tax rebate offered by the U.S. government that knocks a bit off the price.

Tesla, which produces vehicles at the old Toyota Motor Comp. (TYO:7203NUMMI factory in Fremont, Calif., plans to sell 20,000 Model S sedans in 2013.  The Model S gets 160 to 300 miles on a charge, depending on which size battery pack is purchased (the base price is for the 160 mile range variant).

It will then follow up in 2014 with the first production run of the Model X, a luxury electric sports vehicle.

Tesla Model X [Source: Automobile Magazine]
It's clear that Tesla attacked the part of the market where electric vehicles were most likely to succeed -- the luxury segment, an area where the cost of the battery pack can be defrayed by cutting into the typical markup luxury brands garner.  However, while Tesla makes it look easy, designing and selling luxury EVs is no easy task.

While Tesla's Model S earned the distinction of being Motor Trend's and Automobile magazine's 2013 "Car of the Year", rival Fisker saw its much delayed "Karma" plug-in hybrid electric sports car get widely panned.  Tesla shares have surged 21 percent in 2012, on account of its unlikely success. 

Source: Twitter

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By DockScience on 12/6/2012 11:17:57 AM , Rating: 2
I sure am glad that my children are on the hook for the money borrowed by government to subsidize these expensive toys for rich boys.

Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By DukeN on 12/5/12, Rating: -1
RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By tanjali on 12/5/2012 3:13:04 PM , Rating: 3
Troll, term for a person who, through willful action, attempts to disrupt a community or garner attention and controversy through provocative messages

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By nolisi on 12/5/2012 3:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
He's only stating the fact that this comment section will be overrun with those irate at the idea of electric cars and will come up with every reason why they're not good...eventhough the cornerstone of the free market is consumer choice.

The provocative message wasn't made by DukeN- he's merely pointing out what's occurred in just about every EV article in DT. The provocation is the article itself that incites those people to comment what are essentially nonconstructive argumentation points against the article or the fact that EVs exist.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Madlyb on 12/5/2012 11:41:52 PM , Rating: 2
So, trolling about EV's is bad, but preemptive trolling against people who have issues with EV's is okay?

I think both approaches are bad.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By phxfreddy on 12/6/2012 6:24:45 PM , Rating: 2
They are leftwingers who pray at the alter of holier than thou!

See comic explaining said phenomenon here:

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By nolisi on 12/5/2012 4:01:19 PM , Rating: 1
In other words- you fingered the wrong person as the troll.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Schadenfroh on 12/5/2012 11:12:00 PM , Rating: 1
Electric cars are not green... maybe to their fans, but ever see how rare earth elements (needed for "green" hardware) are "mined" (hint: so terrible for the environment that only China dares do it in bulk) or how polluting battery production / disposal can be?

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Strunf on 12/6/2012 7:30:25 AM , Rating: 2
Don't say it loud cause the buyers think that are doing earth a favor by buying one of those, in their heads it's even more eco-friendly than walking all the way.

Anyways these cars are for rich people that probably don't really give a rat ass about ecology but just want to look cool driving one of these, it's like those that buy a Ferrari they don't do it cause it's a fast car but cause it's a Ferrari!

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Dr of crap on 12/6/2012 8:17:57 AM , Rating: 1
Yes - exactly!
I wish more would get that!

And this car is not shoved in our faces daily - why?
Because the masses can't afford one of these.

BUT the Volt is shoved in our faces daily - yet the masses do not want it!

See the difference GM!

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Mint on 12/6/2012 9:59:57 AM , Rating: 1
BUT the Volt is shoved in our faces daily
LOL then tell the fear mongerers to stop writing about it! The conservative media loves to make up BS stories about it costing $250k per car to anger its gullible base.

By ItsNotAboutTheMoney on 12/6/2012 9:35:16 AM , Rating: 2
I doubt they'd think that, given that there are far more efficient transportation choices than a luxury car.

But they probably like not having an exhaust spewing carcinogens*, not adding to oil imports and not going to gas stations.

* It's not just diesels that should have particulate filters, but nobody has the balls to make gas cars use them.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Jeffk464 on 12/6/2012 10:49:16 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously they buy a Ferrari as a status symbol, practically its the most absurd car on the road.

By ItsNotAboutTheMoney on 12/6/2012 9:28:53 AM , Rating: 2
Would those be the rare earth metals not used in the Model S' battery (it's a lithium-ion and they don't use rare earths) and not used in the Model S' motor (it's an induction motor)?

Tesla's model avoids the supply constraints of rare earths, which made it much easier for them as a startup.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Mint on 12/6/2012 9:56:42 AM , Rating: 2
Tesla and Nissan already stopped using rare earths for the motor/battery. Most people stopped using NiMH and moved go Li-ion, drastically reducing rare earth usage (esp. Lanthanum).

Why do you think a battery that can be used for 5000 charges and largely recycled is more damaging to the environment than drilling for 200 times its mass in gasoline/diesel and then burning it in major population centers?

Don't use the coal powered electricity excuse, as all new electricity consumption will be generated by natural gas or wind (and hopefully nuclear). EVs are charged at night anyway, when load following plants (virtually all natural gas) are idling.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Paj on 12/7/2012 8:31:24 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, because drilling for oil and mining for coal has far less impact. Quick, the scientists must know!

China only does it in bulk because only China has the infrastructure and deposits (for now). China produces an estimated 95% of the world output while only having less than 30% of proven reserves.

Do some research next time buddy.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Jeffk464 on 12/5/2012 11:22:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm actually pretty pro electric car and like the idea of pushing the tech. But this car is clearly a high end car for the well to do, I'm not sure I'm happy about subsidizing their luxury rides.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By FITCamaro on 12/6/2012 7:52:54 AM , Rating: 2
When you're willing to subsidize a ZR-1 or an M3 let me know.

In the meantime shut your hole. There's absolutely no reason we should be subsidizing any cars, much less luxury ones.

People buying these are the so called "rich" that Democrats love to hate yet they have no problem giving them a tax credit for buying a luxury car? Hypocrisy?

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By DukeN on 12/6/2012 10:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
Have you bought anything made or sold by a Fortune 500 company recently?

Chances are they have had all kinds of subsidies and tax breaks already, and usually to a much higher degree.

Of course the rebate here goes to a consumer (with an indirect benefit to the corporation), so there's a backlash...

(I also can't afford a 60K car...)

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By FITCamaro on 12/6/2012 10:39:34 AM , Rating: 2
And you assume I approve of all of them?

Am I fine with STATES giving companies incentives for keeping their business in that state? Absolutely. States can do whatever is best for their state. The federal government though has no authority to subsidize businesses or products.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Chernobyl68 on 12/6/2012 12:18:16 PM , Rating: 2
wait, what? You're ok with a state gov't doing what's best for the state, but not the federal gov't doing what's best for the nation?

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By FITCamaro on 12/6/2012 2:03:29 PM , Rating: 2
States have the authority to do whatever their state constitutions allow them to do. The federal government only has the power to spend money on the things it is expressly given the power to spend it on. No where will you find the authority to spend money to promote certain products over others.

It isn't the federal government's job to decide winners and losers in industry. It's job is to provide safety and security for the nation while its citizens go about their lives and succeed or fail based on the decisions they make.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Paj on 12/7/2012 8:46:57 AM , Rating: 2
That doesn't make a great deal of sense.

Doesn't the US giving a tax break to the domestic energy industry, or subsidies for farming, "decide winners and losers in industry"?

Both are essentially forms of protectionism after all, without which the competitiveness of each respective industry would likely fall in relation to other local or international industries.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By FITCamaro on 12/6/2012 10:42:31 AM , Rating: 2
And companies taking taking tax deductions for R&D, losses, etc. is not a subsidy as liberals try to say when it comes to businesses like oil companies.

Now is there crony capitalism that exists and results in certain deductions that only certain companies can take? Yes. And I wholeheartedly disagree with that. But deductions that any business can take as a result of certain expenses is not a subsidy.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Shadowmaster625 on 12/6/2012 9:01:23 AM , Rating: 2
I'm irate because a $60000 car won car of the year. Can I get a WTF? WTF.... are these guys smoking. For $60000 you can buy cheaper better luxury car AND buy 100,000 miles worth of gas, and NOT send an extra $600 a year (per 12000 miles driven) to your utility company.

RE: Cue the whiners in 3, 2, 1...
By Mint on 12/6/2012 10:08:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'm irate because a $60000 car won car of the year
So were you also mad at the Nissan GT-R? Lexus LS460? Audi A7?

By Dr of crap on 12/6/2012 12:31:57 PM , Rating: 2
BUT you'd rather sent some of you gas money to another country?
Even if it is Canada or Mexico, it not US money then is it?

I'm not pro EVs, but your statment about sending money to the utility makes your whole statement strange.

SEC Press Release??
By othercents on 12/5/12, Rating: -1
RE: SEC Press Release??
By Keeir on 12/5/2012 3:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
That's an interesting question.

Since there are many news articles covering this tweet, I think in the end it comes down to the question about intent in using Twitter as the mechanism. If the CEO's twitter account is restricted in some way... maybe,

But a quick check shows he has 113,000+ followers. He appears to have made the tweet well after the close of the stock market, and well before it would open the next day. There really does not appear to be any intent in this case, so I'd be surprised if there is significant blow-back from this. In a way, its exact opposite of encouraging insider trading. Since Elon Musk would likely tell many individuals in person (before twitter) or hold employee recongition, in a world without this tweet, these people would essentially be on the honor system to not engage in insider trading.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By othercents on 12/5/2012 4:34:32 PM , Rating: 2
I don't believe Twitter is the approved way to get information to the entire market even if they followed the rules of sending the release after the close of market and well before the market opening. I believe the rules require them to put all press releases in a single location which would be their Investor Relations portion of their website along with submitting them to the SEC. Also the Press Release had to be approved by the board of directors and would have the forward looking statements required by the SEC.

It could even be said that only the 113,000+ followers got the release while the rest of the market was not properly informed. This would be the same is Elon Musk only told individuals and those individuals made trades based on that information prior to an official release by the company.

SEC doesn't need much to start an investigation.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By Jeffk464 on 12/5/2012 11:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
What is the government possibly going to do to him? Without him the US space program is kind of on hold.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By yomamafor1 on 12/5/2012 3:56:28 PM , Rating: 5
Its not consider an insider trading if the information is made public. In this case, Musk made a comment about Tesla's current financial situation on his blog, which is public.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By Madlyb on 12/5/2012 11:37:51 PM , Rating: 5
Companies are free to share information with the public at anytime, it is only an issue if the company is in the quiet period.

It is Insider Trading if someone acts upon information not available to the general public and Twitter counts as public distribution.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By Sivar on 12/6/2012 12:15:04 AM , Rating: 2
You bring up an interesting question.
That said while I am not an expert on corporate finance, I suspect the the co-founder of PayPal is.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By Dorkyman on 12/6/2012 10:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
Narrowly cash-flow positive FOR A WEEK?

That's not how it works.

Any business, successful or unsuccessful, can be positive for a short time--you just allocate your income and expenses appropriately. The trick is to be consistently profitable. I'll hold my applause until he reports the company was profitable for a whole year.

RE: SEC Press Release??
By Jeffk464 on 12/6/2012 10:59:39 PM , Rating: 2
You would expect negative cash flow with a relative start up in the beginning and if successful cash flow will come in after things take off. The early positive cash flow is a good sign. The test will come further down the line if they can keep coming up with desirable cars.

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