Electric sportscar maker Tesla has reported a third-quarter loss of US$34.9m compared with a loss of US$4.6m in the same period last year when the company was still privately held.

Sales totalled US$31.2m, down from US$45.5m in the third quarter a year ago.

Chief executive office Elon Musk said, however, that the company is pushing ahead with plans to “spend heavily” over the next nine quarters to get the Model S sedan into production.

He told Bloomberg News: “Attaining quarterly profitability isn’t a goal. We’re very focused on long-term profitability.”

Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, intends to become the auto industry’s leader in battery-powered cars, aided by supply agreements with Toyota and Daimler.

The company is refurbishing a the former Toyota-General Motors joint-venture factory in Fremont, California, which is scheduled to begin making the US$57,400 Model S by mid-2012.

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