Tesla made a profit in the second quarter with the caveat that it was only profitable thanks to sales of regulatory credits, as opposed to pure car sales. Tesla’s third-quarter results—announced today—told a similar story but a slightly more convincing one this time.
That’s because Tesla’s profit of $331 million for the third quarter is almost enough to cover $397 million in regulatory credits Tesla sold in the third quarter. That means that Tesla is getting ever closer to making money solely by selling its goods (cars) and services alone, which financial wizards who get paid more than I do will tell you is an important benchmark if you’re trying to assess Tesla’s long-term sustainability.
You can see Tesla’s full results in this PDF. The short version: Tesla took in $8.8 billion in revenue in the quarter and delivered 139,593 cars, which it says is a record. Tesla says it has the capacity to make half-a-million cars this year and says that will depend on if it can’t ramp up production at its Shanghai factory further, in addition to production of the Model Y. Tesla also says it is on track to start production at its plants in Berlin and Texas next year, and, more dubiously also claims that the Tesla Semi will be delivered next year.
The Tesla Semi, you’ll remember, was first unveiled nearly three years ago. I wouldn’t say that I’m skeptical, exactly, that it won’t be delivered next year, but Tesla just broke ground in August on its Austin, Texas factory, where the Semi will be made. Building a whole new plant and getting some Semis there out the door in less than a year-and-a-half seems difficult under the best of circumstances.
That said, Tesla is a company that keeps proving the doubters wrong, and now also has the profits to walk the walk. We’ll see about the Semi, and we’ll really see about the Cybertruck, which has the potential to be a smash hit before falling back to earth precipitously—not unlike the Hummer EV. But so far so good for a company that has so many retail investors riding on it.