FILE PHOTO: A Tesla sales and service center in Costa Mesa California

CAPE TOWN - Tesla’s Model 3 helped the company set a new record of $4 billion (R53.8bn) in revenue in the second quarter of 2018.

This is according to the company’s second quarter financial results report Q&A webcast on its website Wednesday.

In the Q&A session with analysts Sanford C Bernstein & Co analyst Antonio Sacconaghi, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk addressed questions about Tesla’s production. The carmaker reported a loss of $743 million for the second quarter.

The company reported an adjusted loss per share of $3.06, which was higher than the expected $2.90, while revenue topped estimates at $4 billion as the forcast was set at $3.97 billion. 

In the earnings report and call Tesla said it hit a weekly production rate of 5 000 Model 3s in July and aimed to increase that to 10 000. The company expected to produce 50 000 to 55 000 Model 3s in the third quarter.

Tesla said the Model 3’s gross margin “should grow significantly” to about 15 percent in the third quarter and 20 percent in the fourth quarter.

“Thanks to the continued reduction in manufacturing costs and to some extent an improving mix,” the company said. 

Musk said, during the call with analysts on Wednesday evening: “The goal is to be profitable and cash flow positive every quarter going forward.”

The company said it was still on track to hit its target of 6 000 cars a week in late August, and was aiming for a weekly production rate of 10 000 by early 2019. 

In the second quarter, the report showed that Tesla made 28 578 Model 3s and delivered 18 449 of them.

The Big Apology

Meanwhile making headlines is the big apology Musk made after he referred to Sacconaghi’s questions as “boring” and “boneheaded”.

“I’d like to apologise for being impolite on the prior call. Honestly, I really think there’s no excuse for bad manners, and I was kind of violating my own rule in that regard. There are reasons for it in that I had gotten no sleep, had been working 110-hour, 120-hour weeks, but nonetheless, there’s still no excuse,” Musk said.

Future Forecast

For the rest of the year, Tesla said in its earnings report that it expected to move out of the negative margin. “As we generate more revenue from used car sales, merchandise and accessory sales… we expect revenue to grow significantly,” said Tesla. 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE