DETROIT (AP) — Tesla Inc. on Wednesday posted record fourth-quarter and full-year profits as deliveries of its electric vehicles soared despite a global shortage of computer chips that has slowed the entire industry. ‘automobile industry.
Although the company predicted it would be able to build 50% more vehicles than last year, CEO Elon Musk said chip shortages will prevent the company from rolling out new models in 2022. That means another delay for the Cybertruck pickup, which was originally supposed to go on sale last year.
Musk also said Tesla isn’t working on a promised $25,000 small electric car yet, but it will be.
“We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly,” he said.
And Musk said the company plans to build additional factories and will provide an update on locations later in the year.
The Austin, Texas-based company made $5.5 billion last year, down from the previous record year of $3.47 billion in net profit in 2020. Musk said the full-year profit rose pushed the company’s accumulated profits since its inception in 2003 into profitable territory.
Last year was a breakthrough year for the company, Musk said on a conference call with analysts.
“There should no longer be any doubt about the viability and profitability of electric vehicles,” Tesla said in a letter to shareholders.
Musk said production at the factory was limited last year as the company focused resources on vehicle modification and manufacturing to deal with chip shortages and other supply chain issues. supply that will persist this year. Extensive factory engineering and tooling work is underway to produce the delayed Cybertruck, Semi and a new Roadster, which it now hopes will be ready for production next year.
If Tesla started building new vehicles this year, fewer vehicles would be delivered as attention and resources went to the new model, he said.
Tesla said it began building Model Y SUVs late last year at its new factory near Austin with more advanced battery cells. After final certification, he plans to start delivering them to customers. The company said it was testing equipment at its new factory in Germany and was still trying to obtain a manufacturing permit from local authorities.
The company said its “Full Self-Driving” software is currently being tested on public roads by owners of nearly 60,000 vehicles in the United States. It was only around 2,000 in the third quarter. The software, which costs $12,000 and can’t yet drive on its own, should boost Tesla’s profitability, the company said.
Musk said he would be shocked if the software couldn’t drive safer than humans this year, though he dodged the question of whether the company would achieve full autonomy in 2022. Currently, Tesla says that “Full Self-Driving” is a driver-assistance system and drivers must be ready to intervene at all times.
In 2019, Musk predicted a fleet of autonomous Tesla robots on the roads by the end of 2020.
US safety regulators investigate a complaint on the safety of “fully self-driving,” and they’re also investigating why Teslas running on a less sophisticated partially automated system called “Autopilot” has repeatedly crashed into parked emergency vehicles.
In the fourth quarter, Tesla earned $2.32 billion. Excluding special items such as stock-based compensation, the company earned $2.54 per share. That beat Wall Street expectations of $2.36 per share. Revenue for the quarter was $17.72 billion, also ahead of analyst estimates of $17.13 billion, according to FactSet.
Tesla delivered a record 936,000 vehicles last year, nearly double the 2020 figure. Fourth-quarter vehicle sales hit 308,600, also a record. Tesla said it expects 50% annual growth in vehicle deliveries “over a multi-year horizon.”
He also said Musk received $245 million in the fourth quarter because he reached certain operational milestones in his compensation package.
The company said it was able to cut costs in the last quarter of the year, as well as increase vehicle sales. But chief financial officer Zachary Kirkhorn warned that the start-up of factories in Austin and Berlin, as well as pressure from rising raw material prices and supply chain costs, will drive up Tesla’s costs this year.
Tesla shares initially fell in extended trading after the earnings announcement, but then rallied and fell less than 1%. The stock closed Wednesday up 2% at $937.41.
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