Tesla Hits Record $5.5B Profit, But Musk Says No Cybertruck, Semi, or Roadster in 2022

There were plenty of curious insights in Wednesday's earnings call.

Whether you’re a Tesla investor, a fan of the company’s electric vehicles, or simply an automotive enthusiast with an interest in the curious and off-beat, the company’s earning calls rarely fail to disappoint. This Wednesday saw Tesla cover its Q4 financials as well as taking a look back at the year that was 2021, with plenty of interesting insights on what is to come from America’s all-electric automaker. 

The biggest news from the call is that Tesla will not deliver any new products this year, with the Tesla Cybertruck, Roadster, and Semi all delayed to 2023 or beyond. “If we were to introduce new vehicles, our total vehicle output would decrease,” Musk pointed out, noting the company’s major focus of scaling up production above all else. “We will not be introducing new vehicle models this year,” said Musk, adding “It would not make any sense.”

“We will however do a lot of engineering, and tooling, whatnot, to create those vehicles,” said Musk, referring to the Cybertruck, Semi, and Roadster, all of which were announced several years ago. Tesla hopes to bring those to production “hopefully next year” according to the Tesla CEO.

Tesla’s controversial autonomous driving technology also remains a major focus. “Over time, we think Full Self Driving will become the most important source of profitability for Tesla.” said Musk, while also stating his faith in the company’s progress. Always one to make a bold claim, Musk pronounced “My personal guess is that we’ll achieve Full Self Driving this year… at a safety level significantly greater than a person.” It bears noting that the Tesla CEO has been making similar claims of varying degrees since 2014

In statements likely to inflame the feelings of those with a Cybertruck reservation, Musk wanted to remind people of the company’s other key focus—humanoid robots. “I think actually the most important product development we’re doing this year is actually the Optimus humanoid robot,” said the Tesla CEO. Musk believes that the project “has the potential to be more significant than the vehicle business over time” noting that “the foundation of the economy is labor”, a curious statement given the CEO’s attitude to worker relations in recent years.

Tesla does have plenty to celebrate, however, recording a record profit of $5.5 billion in 2021, on the back of $53.8 billion in sales, in excess of most Wall Street expectations. It’s a huge leap from the $721 million in profit recorded in 2020 on just $31.5 billion in sales, which was also the first full year profit recorded since the company’s founding. It’s a strong sign that the investment the company is making in its production facilities is paying off.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Model Ys are being built with the company’s new structural battery pack design using Tesla’s latest 4680 cells, with shipments simply waiting on final certification of the vehicle which should happen “fairly soon” according to Musk.  Growing cell supply is still a focus for the company, with engineering effort focusing on improving yields to ensure enough 4680 batteries are available to keep up with production ramp-up.  

“In 2022, supply chain will continue to be the fundamental limiter of output across all factories,” said Musk, referring to ongoing sourcing problems in the automotive industry and beyond. Musk expects production in 2022 to still be limited by chip supplies, rather than by the amount of 4680 cells it can produce. “Capacity expansion will continue, through maximizing output of each factory and building new factories in new locations in the future,” says Musk, though notes the company is not ready to reveal where these facilities may be established at this stage. 

Overall, the earnings call has plenty of good news for investors as far as cashflow and production milestones are concerned. However, there’s less to like for those waiting on the company’s new products to come to market. Whether you’re hanging out for Full Self Driving, the Tesla Cybertruck, or the new Roadster, it seems you’ll have to sit tight for some time yet.

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