Tesla on Wednesday reported a profit for the fifth consecutive quarter, putting it on track to report its only annual profit since its founding in 2003.
Tesla said it made $331 million, or 27 cents per share, in the three months that ended in September. The company reported a profit of $143 million, or 16 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
The company delivered 139,600 cars in the third quarter. That was a roughly 50 percent increase from the second quarter, when sales and production were severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.
But Tesla faces questions about whether that strong sales growth is tapering off. Analysts believe Tesla’s sales in the United States have already slowed, and they have said it may be suffering from sluggishness in other parts of the world. In China, Tesla has cut prices several times this year and sales of the Model 3 sedans it makes in Shanghai declined slightly in September compared with August and July. And in Europe, the company faces growing competition from traditional automakers.
“Tesla is losing ground in Europe to fierce competitors” that have offered more affordable electric models, Vicki Bryan, the chief executive of Bond Angle, a research firm, said in a report before the company’s earnings report. Ms. Bryan also said Tesla’s Model Y hatchback seemed to be taking sales away from the Model 3 rather than adding to the company’s sales.
The company’s chief executive, Elon Musk, last month appeared to temper expectations when he forecast that sales would rise 30 to 40 percent this year, implying a range of 482,000 to 514,000 cars.
Tesla would have to sell 182,000 cars in the fourth quarter to sell more than 500,000 cars for the year. Most analysts expect sales for the full year to fall short of that mark, however. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the company delivered 112,000 cars.
While several automakers have introduced electric vehicles, Tesla so far has faced little serious competition. But that could change over the next year or so.
On Tuesday, General Motors offered a preview of a battery-powered and technology-packed Hummer pickup truck that it plans to begin selling in about 12 months. The Hummer EV is supposed to go 350 miles or more on a full charge — in line with Tesla’s top models. G.M. promises the truck will be able to charge enough in 10 minutes to travel 100 miles.
The first edition will start at $112,595. Other editions due in 2022 and later will be available for under $100,000.
The Hummer EV is meant to compete with Tesla’s pickup, the Cybertruck, which is supposed to go into production late next year. Ford Motor, Rivian and other automakers are also hoping to bring electric pickup trucks to the market soon.