Tesla Motors, Inc. posted a $US154 million loss in the first quarter of 2015, a three-fold increase over the same period in 2014.
That said, it also managed a 50 per cent jump in total revenues, improved its manufacturing efficiency, doubled its research and development spend, and took significantly higher Model S orders.
The Californian company produced 11,160 vehicles in the first quarter, delivering 10,045 to customers — broadly in line with estimates — and boosting its inventory by 1100 units. It also offset the negative effects of a strong US dollar by reducing its per-unit vehicle cost via maturing and more efficient production processes.
Demand for the Model S grew in both North America and Europe despite limited availability of the flagship 85D and prior to the announcement of the new 70D. The company admits there’s “work to do” in China, though it claims to see encouraging signs.
Total revenues across Q1 grew about 50 per cent to $940 million, against total costs of $680 million, equating to a gross profit of $270 million. The company's automotive gross margins in the first quarter were 26 percent on an adjusted basis.
However, operating expenses nearly doubled to $360 million. This increase was a result of a doubling of its R&D spend to $170 million. Its selling and administration costs also grew significantly to $195 million.
The company also outlined its product rollout for the year, flagging the commencement of deliveries for the right-hand drive 70D and 85D for Q3. The BMW X5-rivalling Model X SUV, Tesla’s second model line, is on track to launch in September.
Tesla says it hopes to produce 12 per cent more vehicles in Q2 of this year than Q1, equating to about 12,500 units total. It hopes to manufacture 55,000 Model S and Model X vehicles for the calendar year.
Volume builds of Tesla’s just-announced energy grid battery packs that store energy, then power homes, businesses and utilities will begin in Q3, 2015 in Fremont before expanding into the company’s new battery gigafactory in Nevada in early 2016 once the site is operational.
Update: Tesla CEO Elon Musk said overnight the company had taken 38,000 reservations for its Powerwall home battery already. "The response has been overwhelming. Like, crazy," Musk said.