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Tesla Lost More Money Than Anyone Expected

Industry News / 22 Comments

Tesla's Q1 earnings make for grim reading.

Tesla had much cause for celebration last year, as the company announced it had turned a profit in the third quarter of 2018 after ramping up production of the Model 3. Significantly, this was the first time the company had turned a profit in several years. Of course, what really matters now is whether Tesla can sustain that profitability, as Elon Musk boldly claimed that Tesla will make a profit every quarter going forward. Unfortunately, the automaker has already failed to achieve this target.

Tesla has posted its Q1 2019 earnings, and it makes for grim reading. While Tesla also turned a profit in Q4 2018, it reported a net loss of $702 million in the first three months of 2019. That's a massive drop from the $139.5 million profit reported in Q4 2018 and almost matches the $710 million loss reported one year ago. Revenue for the quarter came in at $4.54 billion, which was substantially down from the $7.23 billion in the prior quarter.

The loss was due to deliveries dropping 31 percent from the prior quarter. In Q1 2019, Tesla delivered 63,000 units, 50,900 of which were Model 3s and the rest made up by the more expensive Model S and Model X.

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Tesla blamed internal delays and expects deliveries to improve next quarter. In a letter to investors, Musk wrote that he expects the company to lose money in the second quarter but return to profitability in the third quarter.

Despite the setbacks, Tesla is still confident it can deliver between 360,000 and 400,000 units in 2019 due to the rising popularity of the Model 3 outside the US. Both the Model Y SUV and Semi are due to launch in 2020, while production at a new plant in China is expected to start in Q4 2019. Tesla predicts this will enable the company to produce 500,000 cars worldwide in the 12-month period ending June 30, 2020.