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Tesla Model S electric car on display during the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. Will Tesla be able to deliver 20,000 of these babies next year?
The startup electric carmaker Tesla, helmed by CEO Elon Musk (his other company, SpaceX, just splashed-down its first successful commerical resupply mission to the International Space Station), continues to lose money — $1.05 a share in the third quarter, says its most recent earnings statement released today.
That's worse than in previous quarters and a lot worse than last year's third quarter, when Tesla lost 63 cents a share.
Compounding this bad news: Tesla lost more than analysts had expected. But there's some good news, too - a massive uptick in revenues for this quarter over the one before. This is from Tesla's SEC filing:
Our Q3 revenues were $50 million, an 88% increase from the prior quarter, which reflects ramping deliveries of Model S, continued sales of the remaining Roadsters internationally, and an increase in powertrain component sales to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. We delivered 253 Model S and 68 Roadsters in the quarter. Limited development services revenue was recognized in the quarter; however, progress on the full electric powertrain for the Mercedes Benz EV continues on schedule.
The company is phasing out its Roadster, while the Model S, a seven-passenger luxury sedan, has encountered some production delays. Otherwise, Tesla would probably have seen its Q3 revenues improve even more. The company is taking an optimistic line on the rest of the year, anticipating deliveries of 10 times as many Model S sedans in the fourth quarter.
For 2013, it's getting even more bullish, predicting that it'll deliver 20,000 Model S's.
If it hits these targets, it could start making money fairly quickly. Tesla needs to start making money. It's been burning cash at a furious clip, from about $255 million at the end of 2011 down to $86 million now.
The auto industry is a capital-intensive business — forget about the startup auto industry, which is very much a brave new world. So we shouldn't be surprised that Tesla is losing money and spending it! But the company does seem to be hanging in there.