Tesla Motors 1Q net loss widens on Model X woes

By DEE-ANN DURBIN - AP Auto Writer ,

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A man sits behind the steering wheel of a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing.

A man sits behind the steering wheel of a Tesla Model S electric car on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition in Beijing. (Photo: Mark Schiefelbein)

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 percent 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 4 percent to $231.80 in after-hours trading.

Tesla unveiled the Model 3 on March 31. With a starting price of around $35,000, 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 percent increase in deliveries over the same period a year ago.

First-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $1.1 billion. The company said Model X prices — which start around $80,000 — were about 30 percent 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.

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