DETROIT – Tesla Inc. continues to struggle in the present even as CEO Elon Musk tries to shift investor focus to the future.
The automaker posted a $702 million net loss in the first three months of 2019, which Musk telegraphed in February after originally claiming the company would earn money every quarter this year. The loss, slightly smaller than in the same period a year ago, snapped a modest streak of two consecutive profitable quarters for Tesla. The company has generated net income in only four quarters since becoming publicly traded in 2010.
The electric vehicle maker's first-quarter revenue jumped 33 percent to $4.54 billion from the same period a year earlier.
Automotive revenue in the first quarter rose 36 percent to $3.72 billion.
The company's non-GAAP automotive profit margin was 20 percent.
Musk said in a letter to investors Wednesday that the company expects to lose money in the second quarter but return to profitability in the third quarter.
It was one of Tesla's worst quarters on record, even as the company moved to slash costs by closing stores, embracing online sales and laying off employees.
Tesla also is no longer fully benefiting from federal tax credits for EVs and the initial customer rush for Model 3s has waned. And more rivals -- notably German luxury brands -- are entering the EV marketplace.
"None of these issues are going away," said Karl Brauer, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. "This is the new normal for Tesla."
The disappointing results came two days after Musk invited investors to experience the company's full self-driving vehicle technology and made a series of bold claims, including that Tesla would deploy 1 million robotaxis on U.S. roads next year, those vehicles would return annual profits of roughly $30,000 apiece and that it would be "financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla."