Tesla Motors said it made $15m (GAAP profit: $11 million) in the first three months of the year, thanks to sales of its Model S electric sedan. That’s up from a loss of $89.9 million a year earlier Total revenues hit $562m, a huge rise on the $30m reported a year ago.
Tesla said it sold 4,900 Model S cars in the first quarter. The company said March 31 that deliveries of the sedan exceeded 4,750 for 2013’s first three months, better than its prior forecast of 4,500.
The company raised its full-year forecast to about 21,000 Model deliveries from 20,000. Tesla shares have surged 47 percent since March 31. Tesla now expects US to exceed 15,000 Model S EVs a year, with global demand probably more than 30,000 a year. This breaks down to least 10,000 Model S sales in Europe and 5,000 in Asia, but it could be more, since China is a wild card, Musk said.
In a conference call, founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk talked about the car’s global appeal.
“In the U.S. you may save $200 to $300 a month in gasoline in relative to electricity costs if it’s a daily driver,” Musk said. “In Europe, obviously that number can be doubled. It could be – maybe $500 a month.”
Production rate for the Model S – currently around 400 a week – could increase.
Musk is also confident that financing the Model S is the way to go. “If our car was exclusively available for purchase and not by financing, it would be available for roughly one million US households. With the right financing, it’s probably available to the top ten million households.” “We are thinking of reducing the initial deposit number, because we don’t really need the cash at this point.” The number is currently at $5,000 but it could be dropped to “some lower number.”
That’s notable considering that Tesla vehicles command premium prices. The Model S starts at about $62,000 and can top $100,000, depending on trim level and options.
Shares in the company jumped more than 16% in after-hours trading. Adjusted earnings per share came in at 12 cents, three times what Wall Street analysts were expecting.[wzslider height=”400″ lightbox=”true”]