back to article Tesla speeds to $1m profit

While the rest of the US auto industry is dissolving during the ongoing Meltdown, Tesla Motors - the manufacturer of high-end all-electric speedsters - is making money. The San Carlos, California company announced on Friday that it had squeezed $1m of profit out of $20m in sales during during July. The company sold a record …


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  1. Hate2Register

    One thing you forgot... thing, why not remind us how many miles the battery pack does? And another detail, how many recharges can a battery pack take. Oh and how much does a replacement battery pack cost?

    Maybe they're just details to you, but to me ..

  2. MacRat


    They got a $465mil in "bail out" money and post a $1mil "profit?"

    Isn't that really a $464mil LOSS?

  3. E 2


    I thot u mnt NV Tesla!

    You know: be smart - just buy a video card instead!

  4. MattyB
    Thumb Down

    Not a Bail out, a development loan

    "They got a $465mil in "bail out" money and post a $1mil "profit?"

    Isn't that really a $464mil LOSS?"

    They didn't receive a bailout, they qualified for a development loan which will be paid back with the profits from a more commercially viable electric sedan that they will develop as a result of the loan.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Delivering 19th century tech in the 21st

    Hehe, 120+ years ago only nutheads bought disgusting fuming unreliable and dangerous petrol vehicles.

    The electric cars were the first to break through the 100km/h barrier. And they provided more than sufficient range on one battery pack of 160 km. All of that around 1900. They were safe, comfortable, reliable and economic.

    Oops, here I did it again.

    We are now in 2009 and for some f*** reason people are proud to barely beat what the electric cars achieved BEFORE the petrol cars in the first place.

    What's next? Steam? Most likely... It was the first to break through the 200km/h barrier.

    Whatever... Until we see some technological advancement I will still run my diesel (or LPG).

  6. Anonymous Coward


    So they sold 109 cars, netting $20m - approx $200,000 each. Then they say the next model will have a base price of $49,900 which is half the current cost?

    Are they saying that most of their customers are taking $100,000 in options?

    Also, "our new customers will never need to visit a gas station again." ... I didn't realise the car came with the ability to remind the owner that it's their anniversary/wife's birthday, and it will even dispense the flowers for you? Now THAT'S a feature worth paying for!

  7. Tom Simnett


    @MacRat: No, it's a low interest loan. That $1m is gross profit, or direct profit on sales.

    On another note, is it just me or does $20m over 109 work out to an average of $183k per car? At £100,000 per car, suggests that works out to about $167k per car. So where does the extra $16k come from?

  8. Tzael

    Battery charging

    I think it's great that we're seeing progress in the race to move away from combustion engines but I have a slight reservation...

    What distance can be travelled on a single charge, and how much does a complete charge cost in terms of electricity consumption?

  9. E_Nigma

    @Hate2Register & MacRat

    The car does 244 miles or 393 km on a single charge, the battery is expected to last 7 years or 160000km and replacement costs $12000.

    They had received the money in June while the mentioned profit was made in July meaning that they are operating profitably.

  10. Mike Ball


    Sold 109 cars ..... but I wonder how many were actually shipped - I've lost track of whether Tesla are in 'normal' production mode now..

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    $20M from 109 cars?

    109. How convenient a number for a car with base price of $109,000!

    $20M / 109 = $183,000

    "Fully loaded" roadster supposedly costs $119,000. Sport is $128,500 (+options). Even EU version is "only" about $140,000.

    So they had to sell something else besides 109 cars to generate $20M in sales.

    If you read the original statement: "Tesla shipped a record 109 vehicles in July and enjoyed a surge in new Roadster purchases".

    So Tesla shipped 109 cars in July, not sold. Obviously they issued enough invoices in July to amount to $20M (so that accounting wise those sales go into July) - for more than 109 cars (purchases surged) + reservations, etc.

    reg, please read the statements correctly. Even Paris might be able to do that :)

  12. Anonymous Coward


    So BOA is playing the horses again with my deposits? Is that what is going on here?

  13. Steve Todd

    For the hard-of-thinking

    Tesla doesn't just earn money from selling their cars. In addition to income from parts and servicing they have deals to provide parts and technologies to other manufacturers (Mercedes being one noted example here abouts). Now stop trying to divide 20 million by 109!

  14. Reg Sim

    So Mr post above mine, your saying...

    They have made profits on cars they have not shiped yet. So they are based on expected completed sales, or the deposit already taken for sales.

    Not that it matters, if they have moved over 109 and have enough orders to keep them busy for quite quite a bit longer, whilst it may look like there cooking the books a little to say they have made 1m profit, they do seem quite healthy.

    I am still a fan of Hydrogen Cars over pure electric. Shame fule cells cost so much :(, mind u, $12,000 a battery, i wonder if you could get a cell for that?.

  15. jodyfanning

    Hydrogen is a waste of time

    Hydrogen is almost useless as a source of power. There is no distribution system for hydrogen. Storage in the car is a still unsolved problem as is manufacturing.

    Electricity is already basically everywhere and there are many ways to generate it. Storage capacity (batteries) are getting better every day.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Profit explaination

    As one of the 109 customers that took delivery last month of a Tesla Roadster, let me clear up some confusion.

    Tesla did not make nearly that much on the cars they delivered. Their profit margin on the car is roughly $20k US dollars. They do, however, collect licensing fees for their battery pack design (used by BMW and Mercedes and a few others). They also collect a 50% downpayment on new orders (their was a surge in those as well).

    I can't remember who at Tesla said it but the gist of the quote was that licensing accounts for most of their profits right now.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Profit explaination

    Ooops, clarification: They sell drive-trains (consist of the battery pack, Power Electronics Module (PEM), and the electric motor) to the above manufacturers. They also license the tech. Don't know which revenue stream provides the most profit though.

  18. Pirate Dave

    Money well spent?

    Soooo, what do we "average" Mericans, who could only buy a $100,000 car if we won the Lotto, get from the half-billion* dollar loan/handout our gov gave to a producer of high-end elitist sports cars? Oh, a $40,000 sedan that most of us still can't afford. Nice move there. Maybe next they'll loan a billion or so to the company that makes Ellison's yachts. Obviously that's tax-money well endangered.

    *That's Merican billions, not official Reg billions.

  19. Charles Manning

    @ Tom Simnett

    The press release says they are profitable at the corporate level (ie. this is nett profit, not gross profit).

    Since the 465M is a low interest loan, that will be accounted for separately, like any loan. However, since they're getting this at low interest, it is worth probably $10M per year as direct bailout.

    ie. They're really in a $9M hole.

  20. Charles Manning

    @Reg Sim

    Hydrogen Cars, fuel cells.... Grabbing at straws mate.

    Hydrogen + fuel cells don't fix anything really, it just moves the problem and makes it more complicated.

    I'm sure 12k will get you a fuel cell... probably enough to run the lights and TomTom.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @ E_Nigma

    I'm still waiting for some independent body to come up with real-world mileage achieved during actual testing, instead of people regurgitating manufacturer statistics that were undoubtedly achieved in best-case scenarios (e.g., no heating/cooling, minimal acceleration, speed controlled to maximize distance vs. drag, etc. etc. etc.).

    Maybe it CAN do all the things it is claimed to do, but quoting manufacturer claims isn't going to quiet the sceptics, myself included.

    This company has a long long long history of failing to live up to it's promises, including delivery dates and performance (anybody remember the transmission issues?); why should I take them at their word on battery life and range?

  22. skeptical i

    As a relatively poor 'Merkin, when will I see a benefit from this?

    It's great that the gubmint is investing in leccy and other non- oil- based technology, but as was mentioned above, even the "budget" ($40K) model Tesla will be waaaaaay beyond the means of the taxpayers subsidizing this loan. It is assumed that, as with most technological advances, the innovation happens in high- end systems and then trickles down to lower- end/ consumer- grade goods as it becomes more reliable and less expensive to produce (and we peons will see a ROI ... eventually). So, then, what's the ETA on Tesla having the reliability + cost efficiency equation at a level which allows production of affordable (i.e., by "the rest of us" and not just by the trust fund babies) vehicles with respectable performance (distance per charge, longevity of battery pack)?

  23. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    @ Maths

    Don't know, but they may be licensing out some technology or taking in some kind of dealership/franchise fees for granting dealerships.

    That may be where the extra money is coming from

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Accounting 101

    They can't recognize revenue on cars that have not yet shipped, per GAAP accrual accounting. Remember folks, cash (as in free cash flow) is fact -- profit is a matter of opinion.

    Paris, because she definitely knows cash is fact...

  25. _wtf_

    Regarding Hydrogen

    Supposing you had a hydrogen well that gave you a large supply of the stuff, it would be better to set up a synthesis plant to make heavier hydrocarbons than to attempt to store the stuff in an easily portable manner. Petrol is not all that nice itself, but is much easier to deal with than hydrogen.

    Of course, since we have no hydrogen wells, the question is moot anyway. If you plan to make hydrogen using other means, like electrolysis from electricity generated using ???, then you may as well just charge the batteries of an electric car directly, the efficiency will be higher than if you involve any sort of heat engine after the loss of electrolysis.

    For city use I could see electric cars being quite useful. They don't have the range yet for longer trips, and this is inherent in the battery technology, which seems to be up against the basic laws of chemistry and physics. But given that the oil will not last forever, I can see them coming into their own even if they are no better than what we can manage now. However we all seem to have the habit of choosing our cars for the occasional use, rather than the day to day requirement.

    Not too convinced yet about the hybrid idea, they seem to be excessively complex and don't seem to do any better than a pure Diesel can acheive.

  26. Simon Says

    How far and how much

    "What distance can be travelled on a single charge, and how much does a complete charge cost in terms of electricity consumption?"

    Well according to the Tesla website it's about 220 miles on a single charge. They also say that after a 100 mile trip it should only take about 2 hours to top up the charge using the home charge unit (which they state operates at 70 amps - which I presume is based on a standard US 120v supply). So that's basically 2 hours at 8.4 kW, which for a typical UK supplier would be charged at around 5p per kWh if on a dual rate tariff (and charged during the night) - so you would be looking at about £0.84 per 100 miles in terms of charging costs.

    They also say the battery pack will be good for 100,000 miles or 5 years (after which it will degrade rather than be completely dead) - and if the quote above of a replacement cost being $12,000 (~£7,220) is accurate, then the cost of that spread over 5 years and 52 weeks per year is about £27 / week. That still works out considerably cheaper than my weekly fuel bill!

  27. Adam Nealis

    An efficient hydrolyser allows you to cheaply build a petrol/ hydroxy hybrid.

    "Hydrogen is almost useless as a source of power. There is no distribution system for hydrogen. Storage in the car is a still unsolved problem as is manufacturing."

    So generate it in situ (in the car), else at the filling station:

    An efficient hydrolyser allows you to cheaply build a petrol/ hydroxy hybrid.

  28. Adam Nealis

    As for batteries ...

    Maybe BaTiO3 will work out

  29. TeeCee Gold badge


    ".....don't seem to do any better than a pure Diesel can acheive."

    They may be shit, but they're not *that* shit! You can start with smooth, quiet, free from excessive vibration, pulling well across the entire band of operation, not stinking like a fire fuelled with some fat bastard's nylon sweatsock collection and not being about as friendly to the rest of the world as a real coal fire. You want to try cycling in traffic these days and compare the experience with what it was like before the clueless masses were brain^H^H^H^H^Hgreenwashed into thinking that a diesel car was anything other than complete crap.

    Diesels: 'cos CO2 is everything, right?

  30. Robinson
    Thumb Up

    Hydrogen is the future

    "Hydrogen is almost useless as a source of power. There is no distribution system for hydrogen. Storage in the car is a still unsolved problem as is manufacturing."

    Don't be ridiculous. Hydrogen is a fantastic power source. All you have to do to make it viable is to combine it with Carbon (of which we have plenty) to make a Hydrocarbon. These so called Hydrocarbons can then be easily transported around at room temperature and we can even build a hydrocarbon pump network, such as at the many Ginster's Pasties shops dotted throughout the land. Luckily the exhaust from such a Hydrocarbon Engine also helps fertilise plants (carbon is a plant food) and may even help to prevent, in some small way, the return of the next Ice Age.

    All in all I think Hydrocarbons are the future. They are a triple win!

  31. Anonymous Coward


    Would this be wonderful electric vehicles that:

    - Need some sort of synthesised sound so they aren't deadly quiet (watch out you pedestrians and cyclists!)

    - Contain some of the nastiest, toxic, hard to recycle materials in that tonne of battery?

    - Are incredibly expensive to build and maintain when compared to usable range?

    - cause surprising amounts of environmental damage through digging up and processing the materials for the batteries, shipping the tonnes of material to the battery plant and then, in turn, shipping the tonnes of battery to the car factory? Makes the manufacture of a regular car pale by comparison.

    My diesel doesn't smoke (very few modern ones do - ever heard of a 'particulates filter'?), gives me 60 to the gallon without trying and can cruise at an admirable rate of knots, while passing 2L petrol rep machines with ease.

    Get your facts right, and stop sniffing the petrol fumes.

  32. Simon Rockman

    And in August?

    July was a good month because Lotus shuts down for two weeks in August. This is normal maintenance. So lots of cars get shipped just before the shut down. I believe that this year they shipped more cars (Lotus and Tesla) than ever before.

    Ask for the August figures and you might get a "Tesla shipments drop by 75%" type of story,

    Month on month figures are too volatile to be useful.


  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Real World Range

    Driving in typical Los Angeles traffic without paying attention to being economical, I get about 200 miles (320 km) per charge. It recharges to 80% (about another 270 km) in about 2 hours at a full 240v, 70a plug (can take much longer at plugs as low as 110 v and 12 amps). Charging back to 95% takes 3 1/2 hours since lithium batteries cannot be charged as quickly after they hit about 80%.

    This is in "normal" mode. There is a "range" mode that uses 100% of the battery capacity (normal charges to 95% and discharges to 10%. so add about 15% to that for real world range and an extra hour of charging time.

    Tesla doesn't recommend routinely using "range" or "performance" mode (just like "range" mode except it heats the batteries too so more current can be pulled) unless you have to since they both reduce battery life.

    The electric motor on the Tesla is not sound proof. It's an AC induction motor (most lifts/elevators use this type of motor). When it is producing torque, it makes a distinctive whine. Listen next time you get in one. All cars (including EV's) make road noise (a combination of wind and tires) so no need to "watch out you pedestrians and cyclists!" You'll hear me, you just won't choke on any petrol (diesel or otherwise) fumes after I pass.

    Also TeeCee, electrics do not produce as much "surprising amounts of environmental damage" as petrol cars. This is a common myth propagated by the oil industry. Mining any metal causes environmental damage, just as mining oil does. What's your car chassis made of? How about it's panels? Ever heard of oil spills? Oil cannot be recycled. Batteries can and are. In the US, close to 100% of auto batteries are recycled. Imagine it's close to the same in GB and Europe. Don't you have to turn in your old battery before you can buy a new one?

  34. Captain Thyratron

    Regarding hydrogen from electrolysis, and use of hydrogen as a combustion fuel in general.

    No matter how efficient you manage to make electrolysis of water, it is a net loss of energy. In the theoretically best possible case, you will get back perhaps 80-90% (see note 1) of the energy you put into it upon burning the products. In practice, it's rather less than that. That's fine for extracting oxygen from seawater on nuclear submarines, sure, but hardly anybody uses it for industrial hydrogen production (~4% world hydrogen production; see note 2).

    Currently, the primary source of hydrogen is the cracking of petroleum. Hence, hydrogen as a fuel is, at best, merely an inefficient use of oil--or, if one is daft enough to electrolyse hydrogen and think it is a good use of electricity, it is an inefficient use of electricity, which was most likely generated by burning some kind of hydrocarbon. This is fine for industrial processes that require hydrogen. It is inappropriate for fuel (though not *as* inappropriate as generating it by electrolysis).

    Converting other forms of energy into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel means a loss of energy. Why not skip that step and just use the energy you've got? The only situation in which I can see hydrogen as a combustion fuel being feasible is if somebody discovers a gas field full of the stuff. In that case, it'll go to people who mean to do something useful with it, like generate ammonia through the Haber process.

    An aside: I might make a possible exception for nuclear fusion--of course, that works better with deuterium and tritium, unless you're a star. Let's just wait 'til 2030 or so and hope that the descendants of the ITER are juicing up our power grids by then.



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