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Tesla posts record profit, won’t produce new models in 2022

DETROIT (AP) – Tesla Inc on Wednesday posted record fourth-quarter and full-year earnings as deliveries of its electric vehicles soared despite a global shortage of computer chips that has slowed the entire auto industry.

Although the company predicted it would be able to build 50 per cent more vehicles than it made last year, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said the chip shortage would stop the company from rolling out any new models in 2022. That means another delay for the Cybertruck pickup, which was originally scheduled to go on sale last year.

Musk also said Tesla isn’t yet working on a promised USD25,000 small electric car, but it will.

“We have enough on our plate right now, quite frankly,” he said.

And Musk said the company is looking at building additional factories and will offer an update on locations later in the year. The Austin, Texas, company made USD5.5 billion last year compared with the previous record year of USD3.47 billion in net income posted in 2020.

Musk said the annual profit pushed the company’s accumulated earnings since its 2003 inception into profitable territory.

The company logo on a 2020 Model X at a Tesla dealership in Colorado. PHOTO: AP

Last year was a breakthrough year for the company, Musk said on a conference call with analysts.

“There should no longer be doubt about the viability and profitability of electric vehicles,” Tesla said in a letter to shareholders.

Musk said factory output was constrained last year as the company focussed resources on modifying vehicles and manufacturing to deal with the chip shortage and other supply-chain problems that will persist this year. A lot of engineering work and factory tooling are under way to produce the delayed Cybertruck, Semi and a new Roadster, which he said he now hopes to be ready for production next year.

If Tesla were to start building new vehicles this year, fewer vehicles would be delivered as attention and resources go to the new model, he said.

Tesla said it started building Model Y SUVs late last year at its new factory near Austin with more advanced battery cells. After final certification, it plans to start delivering them to customers. The company said it’s testing equipment at its new factory in Germany, and is still trying to get a manufacturing permit from local authorities.

The company said that its “Full Self-Driving” software is now being tested on public roads by owners in nearly 60,000 vehicles in the US. It was only about 2,000 in the third quarter. The software, which costs USD12,000 and cannot yet drive itself, should accelerate Tesla’s profitability, the company said.

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