Tesla’s Losses Soar for 2010

Elon Musk and Diane Feinstein took questions at the plant opening

As expected, independent electric vehicle company Tesla Motors (s TSLA) saw soaring losses in 2010, according to its earnings report announced Tuesday afternoon. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2010, Tesla lost $154.33 million, which was more than double its losses for the year ending Dec. 31, 2009, at $55.74 million. At the same time, Tesla’s revenues were flat between 2009 to 2010, generating $116.74 million in 2010, compared to $111.94 million for 2009.

The widened losses are certainly expected from the company, which won’t be selling its next-generation electric car, the Model S, until mid-2012, and has been investing in its factory and staff to get the car into production. Tesla has delivered 1,500 first-generation, electric Roadsters to date, according to its earnings report, which cost over $100,000 a pop. But there will be a gap between when Tesla stops selling its current Roadster in 2011, and begins selling its next-generation Roadster, which won’t happen until at least 2013.

Tesla does have other third-party auto deals, including the Toyota RAV-4 EV deal, which Tesla says will generate up to $69 million in development services revenue over the next four to five quarters, and the deal with Daimler to build EV Smart fortwos. Tesla also has a development deal — and equity investment from — Panasonic.

Investors expected as much — if not worse — from Tesla earnings, and shares rose to $23.40 per share. Tesla priced its IPO at $17 per share back in June, its shares started trading at $19 on the morning of its debut, and its stock traded up 40.5 percent on its first day. Tesla’s stock has traded around $20 for months, and a few times hit in the $30s.

For the fourth quarter of 2010, Tesla generated $36.29 million in revenues, which was double its revenues for the fourth quarter of 2009, at $18.59 million. At the same time, Tesla’s net losses on a fourth quarter basis also doubled, and Tesla lost $51.36 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to a loss of $24.24 million for the fourth quarter of 2009.


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