Tesla said on Wednesday its profit had increased more than sixfold from last year to $5.5 billion, the highest total in its 19-year history, as sales grew further, particularly in Europe and the United States. China.
But the automaker has warned that supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic will again limit production throughout this year.
“Our own factories have been operating below capacity for several quarters as the supply chain has become the primary limiting factor, which is expected to continue through 2022,” the company said.
Tesla’s revenue rose to $53.8 billion in 2021 from $31.5 billion a year earlier. Deliveries increased by 87% to 936,000 cars. It ended the year with a strong fourth quarter in which revenue rose 65% to $17.7 billion and net income rose to $2.3 billion from $270 million for the comparable period in 2020.
The company generated $4.6 billion in cash in the fourth quarter and ended the year with $17.5 billion in cash.
A critical year for electric vehicles
The popularity of battery-powered cars is skyrocketing around the world, even as the global car market stagnates.
Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said the company won’t announce any expansions to its product line this year so it can focus on ramping up production.
Adding models as demand exceeds supply “wouldn’t make sense,” he said on a conference call with analysts. “If we introduced new vehicles, our total production would decrease.”
Tesla said it is working on its Cybertruck pickup, which is expected to go into production in 2021.
The company repeated a previous forecast that it expected sales to grow by around 50% per year on average over the next few years. Mr Musk said Tesla would grow “comfortably above” that figure in 2022.
Tesla made progress last year despite an industry-wide shortage of computer chips. The company was able to mitigate the impact of the shortage by switching to more readily available chip types. Tesla can make such a change because its software allows its cars to run on a wider variety of chips than vehicles from other automakers.
“The shortage of chips is always a problem,” Musk said on Wednesday. “We expect to be chip limited this year. This should ease next year.
In addition to its established factories in Fremont, Calif., and Shanghai, Tesla needs production from the factories it is building in Texas and Germany to sustain its rapid growth.
“We aim to ramp up our production as quickly as possible, not only increasing production at new plants in Austin and Berlin, but also maximizing production at our established plants in Fremont and Shanghai,” the company said Wednesday. “We believe that competitiveness in the electric vehicle market will be determined by the ability to add capacity through the supply chain and ramp production.”
Mr Musk said Tesla would likely start scouting locations for a new vehicle factory by the end of the year.
The company said it hopes to start shipping Austin-made Model Y compacts. Production at the plant near Berlin, which was due to start in late 2021, has been delayed due to disputes with German authorities over permits.
Tesla dominates the electric vehicle market in the United States, but it should finally face some serious competition this year. Ford Motor, General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai have all outlined ambitious plans to bring new electric cars to the United States. Two young electric vehicle producers, Rivian and Lucid Motors, have also just started shipping vehicles intended to compete with Tesla.
Tesla’s 2021 revenue included nearly $1.5 billion earned from the sale of regulatory credits to other automakers, down slightly from the previous year.