Tesla makes more cars as revenue jumps

2017 BMW 3-Series

2017 BMW 3-SeriesEnlarge

Tesla said in its shareholder letter that the Model 3's gross margin "turned slightly positive" in Q2, and the boost in production could move that figure up to 15 percent by quarter's end.

Tesla projected 2018 capital spending of slightly less than $2.5 billion, compared to $3.4 billion previous year.

"During the month of July", the letter reads in part, "we have repeated weekly production of approximately 5,000 Model 3 cars multiple times while also producing 2,000 Model S and X per week".

"Now that we have reached a production rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week, we are focused on further ramping production, and achieving profitability and continuous cost efficiencies", Musk and Ahuja said.

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The company's future rests on its ability to mass produce the Model 3 - its most economical auto - a task that has seen Tesla fail to meet numerous self-imposed deadlines for the all-important 5,000-cars-per-week metric, reduce the amount of automation it was relying on in its factory, and build an entire assembly line in a tent.

Tesla said it would build as many as 55,000 Model 3s in the third quarter, buoying hopes that the company would soon begin to turn a profit - its first in years. It delivered its 200,000th electric auto - including its more expensive Model S and X vehicles - in July, a threshold which means a $7,500 federal subsidy will remain in place to the end of the year. That's substantially less than the 2017 level of $3.4 billion. That angered some deposit-holders, and analysts questioned whether more would drop out because of delays making the cheaper $35,000 version of the sedan.

Still, Tesla's second-quarter loss more than doubled to a record $717.5 million, or $4.22 per share. Tesla said in July there were about 420,000 reservations for the Model 3, and did not update that number on Wednesday.

Musk tweeted in April that the company's profitability would mean it would have "no need to raise money", but the company now has billions of dollars in debt, including more than $1 billion that will need to be paid or refinanced within the next year.

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The earnings announcement and a following call with investment analysts have been widely anticipated by both Tesla boosters and critics for signs of Tesla's performance - and for how the outspoken Musk would react.

Excluding items, Tesla reported a loss of $2.45 per share, compared with expectations of a loss of $2.92.

However, revenues rose to $4bn in the three months to June 30, up from $2.7bn.

Tesla shares were up 5 per cent at $316.45 in after-market trading on Wednesday. The stock has slumped 19 per cent since a 2018 high of $370.73 in June.

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