On Wednesday Tesla announced that it saw record revenue, beating even Wall Street’s estimates, of $US17.72 (A$25) billion in Q4 of 2021. While analysts were optimistic for Tesla’s fourth quarter, the electric automaker managed to post even better numbers. The world’s most valuable car manufacturer actually managed to turn a decent profit last quarter, good for them.
In other good news, the company announced that Model Y production has begun at Gigafactory Texas, using the new structural battery pack and more efficient 4680 battery cells. Keep in mind that neither of these advancements will be rolled out any time soon at the company’s California facility, so if you’re looking to buy a Model Y in the near future, make sure it’s a Texas car. The company plans to begin deliveries once final certification has been completed, but did not specify a timeline.
Now let’s get on to the disappointing things that were also announced during the call to stakeholders.
“Our own factories have been running below capacity for several quarters as supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through 2022,” Tesla said in a statement on Wednesday. That’s right, supply chain issues will plague this year as well, because of course they will. Investors saw this as troubling, and the company’s stock dropped a few per cent when the announcement was made. Tesla is perhaps among the better automakers at surviving the chip shortage, but it does that by changing chip suppliers mid-stream and re-writing software on the fly to reduce chips per car. There’s no telling what effect this will have on the cars and production long term.
Tesla Head Honcho Elon Musk confirmed that the company would not be introducing any new models in 2022. If you read between the lines, that seems to mean that Cybertruck, Roadster, and the Semi have all been pushed out to at least 2023. The Roadster was supposed to be a 2020 model, and the Cybertruck was a late-2021 launch when it was announced, so it seems the company is biting off way more than it can chew. Don’t forget that Tesla claims to have sold out all 1000 of the reservations for the Founders Series Roadster at $US250,000 (A$347,050) each, taken over a million $US100 (A$139) deposits on Cybertrucks, and has a standing order with Budweiser for forty Semis. At some point selling things that don’t exist is going to catch up to the company.
The $US25,000 (A$34,705) Tesla compact that the company announced in 2020 seems to have been shitcanned entirely. It doesn’t seem likely to me that the company ever actually spent any time developing this car. It didn’t even get a name. Musk stated on Wednesday that “it’s just sort of the wrong question.” I know I was really looking forward to an actually affordable Tesla, but I guess not.
Musk once again doubled down on automated driving, saying the tech would be perfected this year. I’ll believe that when I see it. Full Self Driving, which is not full or self or driving, is said to be the reason that a cheap Tesla makes no sense, because Musk claims deploying Teslas as robotaxis will somehow reduce the cost of driving to so low that people won’t need to purchase smaller and more efficient cars. That all seems like backwards doublespeak to me, so I guess we’ll wait until I’m proven wrong.
Ultimately I can’t tell if today was a good day or a bad day for Tesla. Delivering an incredibly profitable quarter, shipping nearly a million cars in 2021, and getting the Texas facility up and running are all laudable for the company. However, many of the things that it has promised in the last half decade continue to be broken promises, or at least seriously bent ones.