Tesla RoadsterEnlarge Photo
Electric sports-car startup Tesla Motors claims that it will be profitable later this year, after cutting costs and securing a new round of financing. Founder Elon Musk made the claim in a newsletter that will be mailed out later today to thousands of Tesla fans and owners.
In Musk's words:
The $40M financing round completed in December was twice the amount Tesla needed to reach profitability. Moving forward two months later, we remain on track with our cost reductions and production ramp, so it appears highly likely that Tesla will meet the goal promised to those investors of becoming profitable by mid year.
The main reason for this confidence is that Tesla is already in the fortunate position of being sold out until early November, something few automakers can claim, and will soon be sold out of all 2009 production. While we have had some cancellations due to buyers experiencing personal financial difficulties, new orders continue to flow in every week from the United States and Europe. We have now produced more than 200 Roadsters for customers and there are more than 1,000 customers still awaiting delivery.
Musk also brags that at least one Roadster was re-sold for $160,000 at the Sonoma Paradiso in northern California, well above its $109,000 list price. And he claims many owners who already have their cars have decided to buy a second one because they like their Roadster so much.
Like many startups, Tesla has experienced intense press attention for its executive departures, changes in strategy, and product plans. Founding CEO Martin Eberhardt left the company more than a year ago amidst a glare of publicity and rumors. For a while, he published the Tesla Founders Blog--though its last entry is now more than two months old.
More recently, Tesla announced that it would supply Daimler with 1,000 battery packs for a future electric version of the Smart ForTwo. It also changed its plans to build a brand-new green factory in San Jose, California, for its Model S four-door sedan due in 2011. It now plans to renovate an existing "brownfield" site to take advantage of Federal funds for auto-industry retooling to build high-mileage cars in facilities at least 20 years old.