Tesla’s deliveries edge close to 1 million mark in 2021 after a record fourth quarter

The world's biggest electric vehicle manufacturer’s deliveries for the last quarter surged 71%

Tesla's Model 3, with the Model Y, accounted for 97 per cent of total deliveries in 2021. AP
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Tesla, the world's biggest electric vehicle manufacturer, delivered 308,600 cars in the fourth quarter of 2021, bringing its full-year total to an all-time high of 936,172, up 87.4 per cent year-on-year.

The record deliveries are a victory lap for the car maker, which had already smashed its single-year record in the previous three-month period.

The Texas-based company's deliveries for the three-month period ended December were up 28 per cent from the third quarter's 241,300 and 71 per cent from the 180,570 for the same period a year ago, according to a statement on its website.

The deliveries beat a Bloomberg survey of 13 analysts who on average predicted about 263,000 vehicles for the fourth quarter, although some of them revised their numbers upwards during the final days of December.

Calculations from Tesla's quarterly reports show that it delivered 935,950 vehicles in 2021. It revises its figures up or down once final counts are in; in this year's case, it was up.

Total annual production also rose significantly, up 82.5 per cent from 2020's 509,737 to 930,422 last year. Fourth-quarter production was at 305,840, up 28.6 per cent from the third quarter's 237,823.

Tesla's shares surged almost 9 per cent in pre-market trading on Monday on the impressive sales figures. Its stock rose almost 50 per cent in 2021.

“This is a trophy-case quarter for Tesla as the company blew away even bull-case expectations,” said Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. He said it was a “jaw-dropper performance for Musk & Co in the December quarter with massive tailwinds into 2022".

Tesla's performance is widely viewed as a barometer of the EV market as more consumers opt for environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional gas-guzzlers.

This is a trophy-case quarter for Tesla as the company blew away even bull-case expectations. It is a jaw-dropper performance for Musk & Co in the December quarter with massive tailwinds into 2022
Daniel Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities

Several governments, including the US and China, have also taken measures and provided incentives to boost EV sales in the next decade.

Tesla said last January that it was aiming to increase deliveries by 50 per cent each year in the next several years, and 2021's better-than-expected results were a step in the right direction.

The company had already smashed its single-year record for deliveries in the third quarter when it delivered 627,350 cars in the first nine months of 2021, surpassing 2020’s full-year total of 498,920.

The car maker's Model 3 and Model Y still dominated, accounting for 296,850, or 96 per cent, of total deliveries in the fourth quarter. The Model S and Model X had 11,750 deliveries.

In 2021, 911,208 Model 3 and Model Y units were delivered, or about 97 per cent of the total. Model S and Model X cars accounted for 24,964.

Tesla's deliveries previously outnumbered production because of logistical challenges, with Elon Musk describing 2021 as a “supply chain nightmare” despite the company continuing to increase deliveries each quarter.

Mr Musk, who became the world's wealthiest person in 2021 – ending the year with a fortune of $273.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index – lauded the company's achievement on Twitter.

The billionaire had vowed to accelerate production at the company and bring it to profitability. Mr Musk had previously said he was able to get around much of the global semiconductor shortage by using new chip designs and rewriting the software Tesla uses on its vehicles.

In October, Tesla received a boost when it secured an order for 100,000 EVs from the rental company Hertz, which is to be completed by 2022.

That announcement towed Tesla into the very elite club of companies with a market capitalisation of $1 trillion, joining Amazon, Saudi Aramco, Alphabet, Microsoft and Apple.

"Thank you to all of our customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and supporters who helped us achieve a great year," Tesla said in its fourth-quarter report.

The company is expected to announce its 2021 financial results on January 26, in which Mr Musk promised to provide an update about the company's product plans. The consensus earnings-per-share forecast for the quarter is $1.38, according to Zacks Investment Research, based on the forecasts of six analysts. The reported EPS for the same quarter last year was $0.24.

Tesla's biggest markets are the US and China, although it does not break down deliveries by regions. It currently produces its vehicles in Fremont, California, and Shanghai, while new factories in Berlin and Austin, Texas, are nearing completion.

The company is also accepting orders for its Cybertruck, with production scheduled to begin in this year.

Mr Musk had also said he would be paying more than $11 billion in taxes this year after criticism that he was not paying enough. He is also nearing his pledge to offload 10 per cent of his ownership in Tesla after he sold off another $1bn worth of stock last week.

Updated: January 03, 2022, 2:58 PM