Going into electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) third quarter, it was clear the focus would turn to guidance for fourth-quarter deliveries when the company shared results. Having already reported third-quarter vehicle sales, and ahead of what is supposed to be the company's biggest quarter ever (by far), shareholders were looking for Tesla to share an optimistic outlook. When it comes to guidance, Tesla undoubtedly delivered. 

Model S. Image source: Tesla Motors.

But first, here's a look at Q3's key metrics
Non-GAAP revenue and EPS for the quarter were both lower than expected. On average, analysts expected non-GAAP revenue and EPS of $1.26 billion and a loss of $0.48. Instead, Tesla reported revenue and EPS of $1.24 billion and $0.58.

During the year-ago quarter, Tesla reported $932 million in non-GAAP revenue and non-GAAP EPS of $0.02.

Tesla continues to face challenges in achieving quarterly profitability. However, operating leverage has improved recently and the management said during its letter to shareholders that it "expects it to improve during the during the next several quarters." Further, it's worth noting that Tesla's operating expenses include research and development and sales expenses -- both of which should be rising rapidly ahead of Tesla's Model X production, the ramp of Tesla Energy, and the company's Model 3 unveil and eventual launch.

Get ready for a huge fourth quarter
For Tesla to deliver enough vehicles during its fourth quarter to achieve full-year deliveries in line with its outlook for 2015, the company needs to deliver nearly 17,000 vehicles during Q4. But investors doubted the company could boost deliveries so rapidly. While 17,000 deliveries would only put Tesla in the lower-end of its full-year guidance for 50,000 to 55,000 total deliveries in 2015, the implied growth for this many deliveries during Q4 seemed too good to be true.

But Tesla seems to be pulling it off, with management guiding for 17,000 to 19,000 deliveries during Q4. For perspective, Tesla's fourth-quarter guidance implies 47% to 64% growth from the prior quarter and 73% to 93% growth from the year-ago quarter.

Given that Tesla is more than a month into its fourth-quarter, this guidance can be viewed as fairly accurate. While Tesla has scaled back its annual guidance a few times, the company has almost always reported quarterly results in line or ahead of its quarterly guidance.

Other important notes
The company provided a few other key updates worth mentioning:

  • Tesla is on track with its plan to unveil its lower-cost Model 3 in March.
  • Since the Model X launch event, order rates for both Model S and Model X have accelerated.

Model X.

  • Global orders for Model S increased by more than 50% compared to the year-ago period during Q3, and the pace of order growth for Model S accelerated in North America, Europe, and Asia, compared with Q2.

Tesla shares jumped as much as 10% in after-market trading as investors digested the implications of such an optimistic view for Tesla's fourth quarter.

Stay tuned at The Motley Fool for more detailed analysis of the company's results, as well as a look at key quotes from the company's earnings call following the release.

Daniel Sparks owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.