It’s not an easy time to be an automaker but Tesla has managed to start the year with an extremely successful quarter.
Tesla says the first quarter of 2022 was another record in terms of revenues, vehicle deliveries, operating profit, and operating margin.
That’s in spite of supply chain hurdles and even the return of COVID-19 lockdowns – this time affecting its Shanghai factory.
Tesla recorded US$3.3 billion (A$4.4b) in profit and the company’s revenue grew 81 per cent year over year to US$18.76 billion (A$25.21b), which it attributes to an increase in vehicle deliveries, growth in other parts of the business, and increased average selling price.
It recorded an operating margin of 19.2 per cent, up from 14.7 per cent last quarter and 5.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2021.
Tesla also recorded US$679 million (A$912m) in emission credit sales to other automakers, more than double its Q4 2021 figure.
The company sells these credits to manufacturers that have fewer zero-emission vehicles in markets where they’re penalised for doing so, such as the European Union.
Total deliveries increased by 68 per cent year over year to 310,048, compared with 184,877 in the first quarter of 2021.
We’ll have to wait and see how much production numbers will increase by in the second quarter, given the company’s Berlin and Austin, Texas factories only opened in the first quarter and are still in early ramp-up.
The Chinese government is also still trying to get a COVID-19 outbreak in Shanghai under control, which forced Tesla to temporarily suspend production there.
It has since resumed, and Bloomberg reports workers have been given food and accommodation at the facility.
“We remain confident of a 50 per cent growth in vehicle production in 2022 versus 2021, I think we actually have a reasonable shot at a 60 per cent increase over last year,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in the earnings call.
In the meantime, however, Tesla expects supply chain struggles will likely see its existing factories continue to run below capacity through the rest of 2022.
Tesla says its global vehicle inventory is sitting at just three days of supply.
The Cybertruck has yet to enter production, though Musk says volume production is on track for 2023.
He also reiterated Tesla is working on a robotaxi without a steering wheel or pedals but including “a number of other innovations”, something he announced at the Cyber Rodeo event earlier this year.
“It’s trying to achieve the lowest fully considered cost per mile, cost per kilometre,” Musk said.
It’s aiming to reach volume production of this vehicle by 2024.
Tesla says it’s putting “significant efforts” into diversifying its suppliers, sourcing raw materials, and producing battery cells in-house.
Nearly half of the vehicles it produced in the first quarter used lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which don’t use nickel or cobalt.
Tesla also confirmed it’s aiming to release its so-called Full Self Driving beta to all US customers by the end of 2022. It started rolling out the technology in Canada in March.