2009 tesla roadster sport 001Enlarge Photo
Fulfilling a promise made back in June, the company's claims of profitability come on the back of strong sales in July, realizing $1 million in earnings on $20 million in revenue. The profitability came, as expected, from the bigger margin of the new Roadster 2 (not to be confused with the more powerful Roadster Sport pictured here).
Shipping 109 vehicles in July drove income up, allowing Tesla Motors to reach overall corporate profitability. That phrase - overall corporate profitability - is carefully repeated throughout the Tesla Motors press release, however, looking suspiciously like a carefully-worded way to make a claim that's not, at leas in plain-speaking terms, completely true.
We don't know what Tesla's books look like, however, so we can't say they aren't profitable, but it's safe to say that sales of 109 cars priced at $109,000 doesn't equate to $20 million in revenue, so at least part of the picture isn't being fully revealed.
Tesla's CEO, the oft-snarky Elon Musk, had this to say of the profitability achievement: "We achieved a bottom-line profitability thanks to a tremendous amount of hard work by the Tesla team to improve quality, while simultaneously reducing costs on the Roadster.
"This also shows that there is strong demand for a car that is unique in offering high performance with a clean conscience. Moreover, customers know that in buying the Roadster they are helping fund development of our mass market electric cars."
The true test of Tesla's carmaking mettle will come with the next-gen Model S electric sedan. If the company can make that car an affordable, mass-produced reality while still turning a profit, the critics won't have much of a leg to stand on.