Despite a contentious New York Times review, the crushing weight of the oil companies on its back, and ten years of hard work, Tesla says it finally managed to turn a profit in the first quarter of 2013. It's a hell of a turnaround, too. Tesla's revenues spiked from $30.2 million a year ago to $562 in the first period of 2013. The electric car maker also reported $11.2 million in profit compared to a lost of $89.9 million just one year ago. (For the record, Tesla has reported a loss every single quarter since it went public in 2010.) But thanks to the company's competitive Model S sedan, of which 4,900 went to market last quarter, Tesla is suddenly looking rather viable.
This is good news for everybody — well, everybody except the oil industry. It was only about nine months ago that The New York Times reported on how the electric car industry was suffering gravely from a lack of demand. The technology was there to make plug-in automobiles viable on a daily basis, and the cars were on the market. But not enough people wanted to buy them. It appears that Tesla's beaten the odds, offering hope not only to founder Elon Musk and his quest to kill the gas car but also all the other companies trying to market zero emissions vehicles.
It's good news for everybody, but it's mostly good news for Tesla. With its strong first quarter sales figures for the Model S, Tesla has finally surpassed the 4,421 Chevrolet Volt models sold and the 3,695 Nissan Leafs sold to become the best-selling electric car. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't somewhat surprising to see they've been able to turn a profit so quickly," analyst Alec Gutierrez told Bloomberg News on Wednesday. "It has the right stuff to be a strong player in the industry."
Now, it's time to see if the industry has the right stuff to be a strong player in the broader movement to abandon fossil fuels. This is no easy challenge. Tesla is doing well as a company. But you know what? Exxon Mobil is doing much, much better.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.