When electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) reported third-quarter results on Wednesday, Oct. 26, the report itself was definitely notable. Soaring revenue helped the company achieve a surprising profit and heady operating cash flow. But, as usual, some of the most interesting tidbits from Tesla's quarterly update came from management's conference call after the report was released.
From calling out ride-sharing company Uber to pointing to "massive" improvements in vehicle reliability, the call included a range of intriguing statements and useful insights. Here are some of the best quotes from the call (via a Thomson Reuters transcript).
Tesla to Uber: Watch out
In a bold move earlier this month, Tesla announced it is now including sensors for autonomous driving in every vehicle shipped, including its upcoming lower-cost Model 3. Pairing this technology with plans for a self-driving ride-sharing network, the "Tesla Network," as Musk now refers to it, was a hot topic during Tesla's earnings call.
When asked about Tesla's plans for monetizing the network, Musk seemed to suggest the business model would be lucrative for vehicle owners -- a move that could challenge Uber.
This would be something that would be a significant offset on the cost of ownership of a car, and then a revenue generator for Tesla, as well. Obviously, the majority of the economics would go to the owner of the car.
Sometimes, it's been characterized as Tesla versus ... Uber or Lyft or something like that. It's not Tesla versus Uber, it's the people versus Uber.
Reliability is improving
Consumer Reports recently put the spotlight on the reliability ratings of Tesla's vehicles when it released its 2016 reliability survey. While the company's 2012-launched Model S improved from worse-than-average reliability to average reliability, the consumer rating agency said Model X "has been plagued with malfunctions, including its complex Falcon-wing doors."
But Musk noted reliability for its vehicles, including Model X, has jumped recently. "The reliability improvement is massive," Musk said after Tesla CEO Jason Wheeler explained how improving reliability is significantly reducing warranty costs and driving demand for the company's vehicles.
Model X reliability improvements have been particularly notable, according to Tesla management. Specifically, Wheeler said service-center visits for Model X have declined 92% during the last 12 months.
To be fair, Tesla only recently began ramping up Model X deliveries, so there's no reason quality shouldn't be improving as the company fine tunes production as deliveries increase.
There are no plans to raise capital for Model 3
After noting in an SEC filing related to Tesla's pending acquisition of SolarCity earlier this year that the company intended to raise equity or corporate debt shortly after the deal closed and before the year ended, Tesla CEO Elon Musk surprisingly said on Twitter earlier this month that the company was no longer planning to raise capital this year.
And now Musk is going even further: "Our current plan says we don't need to raise any money," Musk said when asked about capital expenditure requirements leading up to the Model 3 launch in the second half of 2017.
But Musk was careful to emphasize he wasn't making a promise. The forecast, he said, represented his best guess. Further, he advised listeners take the forecast "with a grain of salt."
Overall, Tesla's third-quarter conference call is worth a listen. Investors can find a link to the earnings call on the investor relations portion of Tesla's website.