Tesla Beats Earnings Forecasts, Lexus Sales Impacted

4:01 PM PST 07/31/2014 by Michael Walker
AP Images
Elon Musk

Sales of the Model S rose 17 percent during the second quarter, denting sales of rival Lexus's LS luxury sedan, according to a report.

Tesla reported second quarter earnings after the stock market's close Thursday, beating analysts' consensus. One closely watched metric — deliveries of the Model S, currently Tesla's only car in production — rose 17 percent to 7,579 cars delivered.

Tesla has struggled to meet demand for the popular Model S, and this week closed its Fremont, California, assembly line to gear up for production of the Model X, a crossover SUV scheduled to start deliveries in 2015.

Tesla said the retooled factory would manufacture 1,000 cars per week, enabling the company to meet CEO Elon Musk's pledge to deliver more than 35,000 vehicles in 2014, a 56 percent increase.

Meanwhile, Model S sales are apparently taking a toll on at least one luxury automaker with deep ties to Hollywood's ruling class.

The Lexus LS , which competes directly with the comparably priced Model S, Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7, sold only 2,149 examples through May, while the Tesla logged 6,457 sales in the first quarter alone.

According to Wards Auto, Model S sales may have come at the expense of the Lexus LS. "Many of the buyers in that segment want what's new" — the Tesla — "and they're trying it," Brian Smith, Lexus's vice president of marketing, told the publication. "They'll probably come back. I think the question remains to be seen how many people will buy a second Tesla."

Tesla has taken more that $40 million in customer deposits for the Model X, the first electric luxury SUV, which will compete with Lexus's popular RX SUV and those from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.

If the Model X becomes a sensation like the Model S and production can keep pace, Tesla could disrupt a second lucrative automobile segment.

Tesla stock was down as much as 2 percent in after hours trading.

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