Posted May 8th 2013 7:14PM
Julie Christie, the rumors are true. After plenty of hint-dropping over the past few months, Tesla officially released 2013 first quarter (Q1) financial details today, and it was the first quarter in which the ten-year-old company was actually profitable. CEO Elon Musk, speaking on a conference call to investors today, made it clear that the numbers are good, but behind-the-scenes factors make them even better.
Take, for example, Tesla's capital expenditures. The automaker was profitable in Q1 despite spending a lot of money on things like new stores and Supercharger stations, things that won't require as much money moving forward. Tesla says it plans to spend about $200 million on capital expenditures in 2013. Or how about the Tesla's gross margin, which grew from eight percent to 17 percent from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013. That's the average for the whole quarter, Musk said, and "the gross margin at the end of Q1 was much better than at the beginning."
The call wasn't all about money-rolling-in news. We knew Tesla would make money selling zero emission vehicle (ZEV) credits to other automakers, and it did, to the tune of approximately $68 million (12 percent of revenues). Musk said Tesla expects ZEV credit revenue to decline throughout the year, going to zero in Q4. The shareholder letter reads, "We expect this to decline significantly in future quarters, as ZEV credits will only apply to about 1/6 of worldwide deliveries, versus roughly half of US deliveries, and the price per credit has declined." Some estimates put Tesla's annual ZEV credit income at $250 million.
More numbers and tidbits from the announcement can be seen below.