It's Electric! Tesla Motors Shifts Into Profitability

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You may have barely heard of it, but Tesla Motors (TSLA) is on a roll.

A business can't have a much better week than this.

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The maker of high-end electric cars posted its first-ever quarterly profit, received Consumer Reports' best-ever score, and now sees its stock price soaring.

Let's start with that review from Consumer Reports. The magazine gave the Tesla Model S a near perfect score –- 99 out of 100.

The magazine says the Model S is tied for the quietest vehicle ever tested. It also received top scores for acceleration, braking, "pinpoint" handling, and a well-crafted interior.

The only drawback is the time it takes to charge the battery –- as long as 12 hours –- and the limited range compared to conventional gas-powered cars.

As for the company's quarterly earnings, Tesla posted a profit of $11.2 million, reversing the loss of a year ago. And revenue soared to $562 million from $30 million.

The company says it expects to sell 21,000 Model S vehicles this year, as it tries to become the first successful auto startup in the U.S. in 90 years.

By contrast, other electric car start-ups have faltered. Fisker Automotive has fired most of its workforce and has not turned out a car since last summer, and Coda Holdings filed for bankruptcy protection last week. It has sold just 100 of its all-electric cars.

The biggest problem Tesla faces right now is the high cost of its cars. The Model S starts at around $70,000 and goes up to more than $100,000 for a better battery and other add-ons. Buyers do get a $7500 tax credit.

Tesla is expected to introduce a new model later this year, a crossover SUV. And down the road, it's expected to offer a less expensive car.

Consumer Reports says the car gets between 180 and 225 miles between electric charges, depending upon weather and driving conditions.

Part of Tesla's allure to investors is the history of its founder and CEO, Elon Musk. He's also the co-founder of Pay-Pal and chief technology office at SpaceX. Manyprofiles refer to him as a visionary businessman.

Tesla's stock soared as much as 24 percent this morning, and it's now doubled in price so far this year. But there are still plenty of doubters out there who continue to short the stock. They believe it's in for a big reversal.

One final note from Consumer Reports' rave review: It says the Model S is "what Marty McFly might have brought back in place of his DeLorean in 'Back to the Future'."

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg

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It's Electric! Tesla Motors Shifts Into Profitability

By Michael Zak | AOL Autos

A recent Interest.com study looked at the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which median-income households in those respective areas can afford to purchase a new car, the average price of which was $30,550 in 2012, according to TrueCar. The study found that in only one city can residents actually afford a car with this sticker price -- Washington, D.C.

Households with an average income in Washington, D.C. can afford a payment of up to $628, which would allow for purchase of a $31,940 vehicle. The next closest city, San Francisco, can only afford $537 per month, equating to a $26,786.

While it's not news that Americans like to buy things that they can't afford, the data is a little surprising given how many great cars there are out there for well under $30,000. Solid hybrids, CUVs, sedans and sports cars can all be had for less than this.

We've racked our brains and come up with 5 of the best cars that are cheaper than the average car's purchase price. These are affordable, versatile, fun and fuel efficient. Of course, there are some stinkers in this price range, as well, so we've included 5 vehicles we think you should avoid.

Subaru BRZ

MSRP: $25,495 - $27,495
Invoice: $24,327 - $26,112
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg City, 30 mpg Highway

The Subaru BRZ proves that driving bliss doesn't have to cost a fortune. The rear-wheel drive sports coupe is one of the most engaging vehicles on the road today, with utterly superb dynamics and looks. The best part? You can have one for $25,495.

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Volkswagen Golf

MSRP: $18,095 - $25,200
Invoice: $17,371 - $24,192
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 33 mpg Highway

Although the redesigned 2014 version of this handsome hatch will be on sale in the near future, the current generation is still worth buying. It's fuel efficient, fun and surprisingly versatile. Starting at less than $20,000, the Golf is also quite affordable.

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Toyota Prius v

MSRP: $26,650 - $30,295
Invoice: $24,809 - $28,202
Fuel Economy: 44 mpg City, 40 mpg Highway

The Toyota Pirus v is essentially a bigger version of the popular Prius hybrid. This hatchback acheives stellar fuel economy while allowing for transport of numerous people and all of their stuff. Starting at $26,650, you can have all the benefits of a versatile hybrid for an agreeable price.

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Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $20,995 - $28,595
Invoice: $20,396 - $27,771
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

The Mazda CX-5 is one of our favorite crossovers here at AOL Autos even when taking more expensive ones into account. Remarkably fun to drive, fuel efficient and starting at a low price, there's a lot to love about this agile utility vehicle.

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MSRP: $16,695 - $21,115
Invoice: $16,208 - $20,218
Fuel Economy: 28 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

This small sedan continue to be the darling of both critics and consumers nationwide. Available with tons of standard features, great looks and sweet fuel economy, the Elantra is one of the best cars on the planet right now.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $32,820
Invoice: $18,770 - $31,334
Fuel Economy: 21 mpg City, 29 mpg Highway

The 200 is a holdover from when Chrysler was owned by Daimler and then private equity-firm Cerberus Capital. It's not that this car is awful, especially since the new Chrysler, managed by Fiat, made a series of improvements. It's that the other cars in this category are so good, and much better designed and engineered.

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MSRP: $18,725 - $21,815
Invoice: $17,789 - $20,725
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg City, 31 mpg Highway

The Scion tC is intended to be a sporty coupe. The problem? It's not sporty. At all. In fact, the tC finds itself on the Consumer Reports list of the least fun cars to drive and we're inclined to agree with that assessment.

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MSRP: $18,995 - $30,795
Invoice: $18,800 - $29,276
Fuel Economy: 19 mpg City, 26 mpg Highway

Short on features and with pretty poor driving dynamics, the Dodge Journey is one you should skip if you're shopping for a sub-$30,000 crossover. We're looking forward to Dodge's next attempt.

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MSRP: $25,900 - $29,200
Invoice: $24,452 - $27,507
Fuel Economy: 24 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway

Don't be fooled by the badge. This is not really a luxury car. With uninspired driving dynamics and a lackluster interior, you should pass on the ILX even though its low sticker price seems very tempting.

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MSRP: $12,490 - $17,890
Invoice: $11,616 - $16,638
Fuel Economy: 34 mpg City, 38 mpg Highway

The idea of the smart fortwo is great. It's the execution that's the problem. The fortwo is loud, terrible to drive and really isn't all that fuel efficient, considering its size. There are way better options between $10,000 and $20,000.

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