Tesla Warranty Consequences Means Earnings Will Fall Short Next Quarter

Elon Musk warns investors of the Tesla warranty consequences. The news of the Tesla warranty upgrade might be good news at first sight, but it also implies it will affect earnings.

Tesla warranty and earnings effects

All Tesla sold, we are assuming Model S and Model X will retroactively get an 8-year warranty on the drive unit. While many cheered the news from Tesla Motors, investors are wondering what the implications are. As I pointed out in CarNewsCafe, was this a Tesla reaction to Consumer Reports recent over reaction? This Tesla warranty upgrade announcement came a few days after.

Since then, Elon Musk, Tesla Motors’ CEO was quick to add on the company’s blog that this would have consequences on the company’s earnings. Here is what Musk had to say:

“To investors in Tesla, I must acknowledge that this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, as our warranty reserves will necessarily have to increase above current levels. This is amplified by the fact that we are doing so retroactively, not just for new customers. However, by doing the right thing for Tesla vehicle owners at this early stage of our company, I am confident that it will work out well in the long term.”

In other words, this means we can expect to see some Tesla warranty consequences.

Warranty could affect Tesla next earnings

Although Musk claims this will have a moderately negative effect on Tesla earnings in the short term, Chris Umiastowski on Seeking Alpha explains how this will effect the company and investors. When Tesla Motors sells a Model S, it books its revenue based on the selling price, record expenses related to building, delivering and servicing the car during the warranty period. This is then charged to the “cost of good sold” (COGS). So where does this leave us with our Tesla warranty consequences?

How much Tesla feels maintenance costs

The gist is that Tesla estimates the costs, repairs and maintenance of a Model S. Based on its quarterly filings from the first half of fiscal 2014, the cost for future warranty work is estimated to be around $2,700 per car. All things considered, this is much less than other premium luxury cars selling within that price range, but never the less once can still estimate how much this could hurt Tesla Motors’ bottom line. Most realistic numbers will show a modest bump next quarter, however Tesla investors are typically long term shareholders that won’t be affected but this minor warranty blip on the radar.

This is yet another brilliant move from Tesla to incentivise potential buyers to spring for the bigger, more expensive 85 kWh Model S. Either way you look at it, this is a good maneuver that counteracts Consumer Reports obvious finding that a car has flaws, as well as warning of eventual Tesla warranty consequences.

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