Tesla Motors net loss widens on Model X woes

Shares of Tesla Motors were up more than four per cent in after-hours trading as the company posted higher revenues in the first quarter than analysts had been expecting.
Tesla began taking pre-orders for its new Model 3 electric car in early April. (Tesla Motors Canada)

Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. racked up a big loss in the first quarter because of production problems with its new SUV, but investors cheered the news that it's on target to meet its delivery goals this year and bring its new, low-cost car to market by 2017.

Tesla's loss rose 84 per cent to $282 million in the first quarter as it struggled with parts delays for the Model X SUV. Also, the company's stock-based compensation costs more than doubled during the quarter to nearly $90 million.

The loss, of $2.13 per share, far exceeded Wall Street's forecasts. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a loss of 87 cents per share.

The Palo Alto, California-based company said Model X production improved in March and that it remains on track to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 new vehicles this year.

Tesla also said it's pushing ahead its plan to make 500,000 vehicles per year to 2018, two years earlier than scheduled. That would help get the Model 3, Tesla's lower-cost car, into customers' hands more quickly.

Tesla shares were up four per cent to $231.80 in after-hours trading.

Tesla unveiled the Model 3 on March 31. With a starting price of around $35,000 US, the Model 3 will be Tesla's most affordable car ever. Tesla said more than 325,000 people put down a $1,000 deposit to reserve the car in the first week after the unveiling.

Tesla delivered 14,810 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs in the January-March period. That was lower than expected, largely due to the Model X delays. But it was still a 48 per cent increase in deliveries over the same period a year ago.

First-quarter revenue rose 22 per cent to $1.1 billion. The company said Model X prices — which start around $80,000 — were about 30 per cent higher than for the Model S.

Tesla says unadjusted figures do not reflect its true performance because accounting rules limit how it records revenue for leases. On an adjusted basis, the company lost 57 cents per share, beating Wall Street's forecast for a 60 cent loss.