Tesla Q1 2020: Model Y profit and Semi setback

Tesla saw $16 million in net income in Q1 2020 and recorded its third consecutive quarterly profit, the electric car company announced today, with the new Model Y crossover managing to turn a profit from out of the gate. Over 87,000 Model 3 and Model Y cars – Tesla's most affordable – were produced in the three month period ending March 2020, of which over 76,000 were delivered to buyers.

Over 12,000 Model S and Model X were delivered, meanwhile. Total deliveries, though, were down 21-percent quarter on quarter, and down 40-percent year on year. Tesla blames that predominantly on operations being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many, it was how Tesla managed Model Y production that would decide whether the company was handling its expansion. According to Tesla's account, that was a success. Model Y crossovers began rolling off the Fremont line in early Q1, and the automaker managed to build more of the cars in the three month period than it had built Model 3 across two quarters back in 2017 when that car first went into production.

More importantly, it's already adding to Tesla's bottom line. "Model Y contributed profits," the automaker said, "which is the first time in our history that a new product has been profitable in its first quarter."

Elsewhere, hits in solar and energy storage

Solar Roof production has been equally controversial, with many questioning Tesla's ambitious roadmap for deployment of the tile-like system. In Q1, the company says, Gigafactory New York is now capable of producing enough Solar Roof tiles for up to 1,000 homes per week. Still, overall solar deployed – measured in megawatts – fell 26-percent year on year.

Energy storage, though, proved more popular. In fact, that rose 14-percent versus the same period the year prior, measured in MWh. In part that was down to the new Megapack, a 3 MHh unit that is proving increasingly popular with utility companies, Tesla says.

For more domestic-scale batteries, more than 40-percent of residential solar customers also opt to buy at least one Powerwall battery, Tesla says. Its 100,000th Powerwall was installed in the Q1 2020 period.

Uncertainty for Tesla ahead

As like so many other companies, the coronavirus pandemic is leaving Tesla in uncertain waters when it comes to predicting the future. The automaker is opting not to give near-term guidance as a result, and says it will revisit 2020 guidance overall in Q2.

Model Y production at Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Shanghai is expected to result in car deliveries from 2021. Meanwhile the first Tesla Semi deliveries are being pushed back to 2021 as well. Initially Tesla had expected to begin production of the electric haulage in 2019, but that was delayed to 2020.