Tesla reports surprise $312 million profit in Q3

Tesla Model 3
CC BY 2.0 Tesla Model 3/ Lloyd Alter

The company had been promising "near profitable" results. It turns out they were lowballing.

When I recently said that I had stopped writing about Tesla (but might just start again), I focused more on Elon Musk's questionable tweets, and less on debates about the company's financial stability, using my (by now) patently obvious lack of deep financial acumen as an excuse for not offering analysis or predictions.

Still, some readers questioned even passing reference to the short sellers' preferred narrative, arguing that the idea that Tesla will run out of money is basically absurd. Even as I reiterate the fact that I am neither an economist nor an industry analyst, I do think it's important for TreeHugger readers to be aware of a pretty major news story today:

Tesla just posted a profit.

Specifically, as Fred Lambert over at Electrek details, the company posted record revenue of $6.8 billion for Q3, as well as an unexpected profit of $1.75 per share. (Fueled by a previous release from Tesla describing the quarter as 'near profitable', Wall Street had apparently been expecting a modest loss of $0.53 per share.) Key to the better-than-expected results, says Lambert, was the fact that the margin for the Model 3 was much higher than expected—which should bode well for future performance if Tesla can continue to churn out these cars at a sufficient enough rate.

This is exciting to me. Even though I agree with Lloyd that, electric or not, a car-centric development model is not going to get us where we need to go, I also live in the Southern United States. A car centric development model is the water I swim in every day, and while my city is moving forward with light rail and bike share, the car is likely to dominate for some time to come.

If Tesla can prove that it's profitable to sell electric cars to the masses, we could see progress toward reducing per car emissions at the same time as we see success in reducing per capita cars or car miles. We'll most likely need success on all of these fronts at once to move the transportation emissions needle sufficiently.

Tesla reports surprise $312 million profit in Q3
The company had been promising "near profitable" results. It turns out they were lowballing.

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