Tesla Motors Sees Loss, Revenue Growth

Tesla Motors sold more in the quarter that ended on December 31 – but it spent a lot more, too, as it pushed to get the Model S sedan to market in 2012. The net result was a quarterly loss of $51.4 million, more than double the $24.2 million it lost in the fourth quarter in 2009. But not to worry, the company said – even bigger growth is ahead.

In its first report of annual results since going public in June, Tesla said it had revenues of $116.7 million in 2010, and the company’s chief financial officer projected revenue in 2011 would grow to between $160 million and $175 million, Bloomberg reported. For the year, Tesla lost $155.3 million, compared to a loss of $55.7 million in 2009.

Tesla Motors, financial results

image via Tesla Motors

The company said the Model S – a sedan alternative to the sporty Roadster priced around $57,000 and expected to be a much higher-volume release – was on schedule for mid-2012 delivery to its first customers. “The highlight of the quarter was our on-time completion of the first drivable Model S alpha,” said Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors. “We believe the Model S is well on its way toward becoming the vehicle of choice for 2012.”

Tesla said it has received over 3,700 Model S reservations so far. By contrast, in the fourth quarter Tesla delivered its 1,500th Roadster, the company said.

While the public tends to think of Tesla as simply a carmaker, it’s angling to be a leader in EV batteries, as well. In the fourth quarter, the company said, Daimler boosted its orders for Smart fortwo battery packs and chargers from 1,500 sets to 1,800 sets. Tesla said it is also began delivering production components for the battery and charger for the Daimler A-class electric vehicle, and that it had agreed with Toyota on specs for the powertrain system for the Toyota RAV4 EV. That business, Tesla said, “is expected to generate up to $69 million in development services revenue over the next four to five quarters.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.