Tesla posts new sales record and fifth quarterly profit

Telegraph reporters
·3 min read
Tesla CEO Elon MUsk - BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/ AFP
Tesla CEO Elon MUsk - BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/ AFP

Tesla charged through a car sales slump slump to post its fifth consecutive quarterly profit, with deliveries up 54pc.

The electric car maker said it made $331m in the three months to Sep 30 and still hoped to meet its goal of delivering more than 500,000 vehicles this year. 

Revenue was almost $8.8bn - far higher than analysts' expectations of $6.3bn, according to FactSet.

Shares in Tesla rose as much as 4.5pc in aftermarket trading Wednesday after closing at $422.64. The stock is up 405pc this year.

But as in previous quarters, the company relied heavily on $397m it earned from selling electric vehicle credits to other car so they could meet government fuel economy and pollution regulations.

Global deliveries rose 44pc in the quarter, which came as overall car sales in the US fell 9.7pc compared with the same period last year as consumers cut their spending in the wake of the pandemic.

Tesla Sales
Tesla Sales

The third-quarter profit was more than double the $143m for the same period last year. Its string of profitable quarters reversed years of losses. So far this year Tesla has made $451m and appears headed toward its first annual profit.

Jessica Caldwell at the Edmunds.com automotive website said the company's results and production showed it may become a mainstream carmaker this decade.

However, Tuesday's release of an all-electric GMC Hummer shows the competition Elon Musk's company faced: "With more EV launches on the horizon, Tesla has a big red target on its back."

On October 2, Tesla reported that it had delivered 139,000 SUVs and sedans from July through September, compared with 97,000 deliveries during the same period a year ago. Analysts said China, where the economy is recovering, was a major source of sales for Tesla.

Tesla said it was still is on target to deliver a half-million vehicles this year, something promised earlier by Mr Musk. The company said hitting the target "has become more difficult" and depends on increases in production of the Model Y small SUV and at the company's plant in China.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk

Tesla said it should have sufficient cash to fund its future products, which include the Cybertruck pickup and a Semi, as well as its long-term expansion plan. 

Tesla is adding Model Y production capacity at its Shanghai plant and is building new factories in Germany and near Austin, Texas. Deliveries from the new factories are planned for next year, the company said.

Mr Musk said the company has sent out full self-driving software to a small number of owners for testing on public roads. The system will be released more widely by the end of the year.

He said Tesla was starting slowly to be safe, gathering data on rare traffic cases that can't be anticipated.

"Weird corner cases, only reality can get you that." he said. "We need to train the system on this corner-case situation, look for examples."