Tesla Model S - black - rear three-quarter view at sunset

According to its Third Quarter 2012 Shareholder Letter, Tesla “is now at over 200 cars per week or 10,000 cars per year, which is at the critical threshold needed for Tesla to generate positive operating cash flow.”

That’s an important milestone to be sure, but the news is actually even better; Tesla expects to ramp Model S production up to 400 cars per week (20,000 units/year) by December of 2012, and says it will deliver 2,500 to 3,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2012. That’s lower than the previous target of 5,000 in 2012, but it’s more an issue of delayed achievement rather than missing the mark altogether.

All of that production bodes well for the future, but as of today, the automaker has yet to earn real money. Revenue for the third quarter of 2012 was $50 million, equating to a net loss of about $110 million after expenses were tallied. The stock market likes the numbers, with TSLA shares rising 8.9 percent on Monday after the report was released.

With production up to 400 cars per week, we’re pretty sure company CEO Elon Musk isn’t able to personally inspect each Model S as he was when Tesla was producing fewer than 80 cars per week. In any case, accolades have been rolling in for the Model S, with two recent scores including being named Automobile Car of the Year and one of the 25 Best Inventions of the year by Time Magazine.

Check out Tesla’s complete Q3 earnings report here.

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By Jeremy Korzeniewski