Are Pollution Credits Supplementing Tesla’s Sluggish Revenues?

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2007teslaroadster-fullMore than 10 percent of Tesla’s (NASDAQ:TSLA) total 2012 revenue — approximately $40.5 million — came from selling the pollution credits it earned from sales of its electric vehicles to other automobile manufacturers, the company’s annual financial report revealed.

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In states like California, Arizona, Maine, and several others, a portion of all vehicles sold are required to emit zero pollutants. Production of Tesla’s electric vehicles has been slow to gather momentum; the number of vehicles it delivered last year came in below 3,000, and because its volumes are so low, the Palo Alto, California-based company is not subjected to that standard. But the company does generate credits every time it sells one of its electric vehicles. As these credits have no value to the Model S manufacturer, it can sell those credits to other automakers, a practice that has boosted revenues.

The regulatory filing did not specify which automakers purchased the credits. Every major car maker from Toyota (NYSE:TM) to General Motors (NYSE:GM) has electric vehicles in its lineup, but so far, sales have been relatively low. Approximately 14.5 million automobiles were sold in the United States last year, The Wall Street Journal noted, but fewer than 20,000 of the vehicles sold were fully electric…

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