Print 36 comment(s) - last by Paj.. on Dec 7 at 8:46 AM

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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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.

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