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The $40M financing round completed in December was twice the amount Tesla needed to reach profitability. Moving forward two months later, we remain on track with our cost reductions and production ramp, so it appears highly likely that Tesla will meet the goal promised to those investors of becoming profitable by mid year.
The main reason for this confidence is that Tesla is already in the fortunate position of being sold out until early November, something few automakers can claim, and will soon be sold out of all 2009 production. While we have had some cancellations due to buyers experiencing personal financial difficulties, new orders continue to flow in every week from the United States and Europe. We have now produced more than 200 Roadsters for customers and there are more than 1,000 customers still awaiting delivery.
Due to our order backlog, it seems that owning a Roadster can be a good investment. Last September, as the financial and real estate markets began crashing, a Roadster was sold at the Sonoma Paradiso in California wine country for $160,000, well above the current list price of $109,000. Many Roadster owners who have taken delivery of their cars have already decided to purchase a second Roadster or Roadster Sport because they like the first one so much.
The continued strong demand is driven by the fact that the Tesla Roadster has no direct competitors. It is faster than almost any sports car on the market (our Roadster beat a Porsche GT3 on the Top Gear test track) and yet uses less energy and has a smaller carbon footprint than a Toyota Prius, even if you assume the worst possible case where all electricity comes from coal.
I expect sales demand to strengthen further as this awareness grows. After all, what's the point of driving another exotic sports car when it is slower than a Tesla and damages the environment? Already, the Tesla Roadster is the car of choice among the technology, business and Hollywood A lists – this year's Academy Awards will be a lineup of Teslas – and we have never had to give a discount to anyone.
Many customers also appreciate the fact that profit from their purchase goes towards helping Tesla develop more affordable, mass market electric cars. The same cannot be said for those who buy gas-guzzling sports cars from other automakers.
And owners aren't the only ones impressed with the Roadster. Road & Track was the first auto enthusiast magazine to perform third-party, instrumented testing on the Roadster; they were "pleased to see its extravagant claims confirmed." The Washington Post's Warren Brown gushed, "Wheeeeeee! If this is the future of the automobile, I want it." Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times had perhaps the most colorful description we've seen to describe the Roadster's scorching acceleration: "God has grabbed me by the jockstrap and fired me off his thumb, rubber band-style. Wow." And we've also had a torrent of reviews in Europe, where deliveries begin this summer – including a Le Monde story with our favorite headline: "Le chic électrique."
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