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Tesla expects to turn a profit, build 20,000 electric cars


Tesla said it made 2,750 Model S electric cars, on display at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, in the fourth quarter. / Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press

Silicon Valley start-up Tesla Motors expects to turn a profit in the first quarter for the first time and said it expects to meet its target of producing 20,000 electric vehicles this year.

With the dust barely settled on its highly public tussle with the New York Times over the performance of its Model S sedan, Tesla said it made 2,750 vehicles in the fourth quarter and posted a net loss of $89.9 million during that period. The company recorded $306.3 million in revenue for the quarter.

Tesla said it plans to deliver about 4,500 vehicles in the first quarter, when it expects to make a profit for the first time. That would put it on track to make 20,000 for the year.

By comparison, General Motors sold 23,461 Chevrolet Volts in the U.S. in 2012, making it the world’s most popular plug-in vehicle.

Tesla told stockholders in a letter that it had $221 million in cash left at the end of 2012. In the fourth quarter, capital expenditures and operating expenses outweighed operating revenue by $102 million, underscoring the rate at which the company burned through cash to ramp up production.
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