On Wednesday, Tesla Motors will, for the first time ever, report a profit when it discloses its 2013 quarter-one financial results.

Tesla Motors Logo

Tesla Motors Logo

Part of the reason for Tesla's profit though is beyond direct control of the automaker.

In California, Tesla racks up ZEV (zero-emissions vehicle) credits at a breakneck rate.  It's believed that Tesla earns approximately $35,000 in ZEV credits from CARB for each Model S sold in the state of California.  We say "believed" because details of the ZEV credits earned are not necessarily disclosed by automakers.  Furthermore, Tesla does not have to report the price at which it sells credits to other automakers.  So, it's a guessing game here.

Regardless, at least one Wall Street analyst says Tesla will add in some $250 million into its bank account this year from ZEV credits alone.  The analyst further suggests that this is one of the main reasons that Tesla Motors is still around today.

But Tesla isn't gaming the system.  Any automaker interested in taking advantage of California's ZEV credit system can do so by simply selling electric vehicles there.

Still, there are opponents out there like Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner, who says:

"At the end of the day, other carmakers are subsidizing Tesla."

True, but those "other carmakers" certainly have the option of developing and selling electric vehicles in California, but rather than do that, they opt to take the easy approach of buying ZEV credits from Tesla.

By 2025, CARB mandates that electric vehicles make up 15% of some automakers new vehicle sales in California.  For Tesla, that figure stands at 100% today.

Via LA Times