Tesla Motors Claims $1M July Profit (a First!), Thanks to Roadster 2

It’s shaping up to be a bittersweet summer for Tesla Motors. While in June the electric car startup became embroiled in a lawsuit with founder Martin Eberhard, the Department of Energy also approved a long-awaited $465 million loan for battery manufacturing and the Model S electric sedan. And now Tesla says that in July, for the first time ever, it achieved “overall corporate profitability,” with $1 million in earnings on $20 million in revenue.

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Over the last several months, Tesla has highlighted units within the company as they became cash-flow positive — first the powertrain supply unit, and then the core Roadster business. As recently as February, Tesla spokesperson Rachel Konrad told us the company did not expect to turn a profit in 2009.

What made the difference last month? It wasn’t the DOE loan. Konrad confirmed with us this morning that the government funds were not included in the calculation for July earnings. Rather, it was primarily sales of the new, second-generation Roadster (pictured above) that helped push it into the black for July. In addition, the $128,500 Roadster Sport, a tricked-out version of the Roadster, began shipping in late June with beefier margins than the $109,000 base model.

According to Konrad, there were no one-time events in July that boosted revenue — just healthy sales. But the company is now poised to make some big investments developing the Model S. “It’s definitely conceivable that we would not be in the black every month going forward,” Konrad told us this morning, “as expenditures ramp up” for the Model S project.

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