Tesla Delivers Nearly a Million Cars in 2021 Despite Shortages

by Jennifer Shea

Automakers all over the world are struggling with a computer chip shortage brought on by pandemic-related shutdowns. But that is apparently not stopping Tesla.

On Sunday, Tesla announced that it had rolled out 936,000 cars last year, an 87 percent jump from 2020. Most of those cars were Model 3 sedans or Model Y hatchbacks, the New York Times reports.

In the fourth quarter, Tesla produced more than 308,000 cars, up 71 percent from the same quarter the previous year. Both Tesla’s fourth-quarter and its yearly numbers beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations. Analysts were expecting about 266,000 cars for the fourth quarter and 855,000 cars for all of 2021.

“The numbers are hard to poke holes in,” Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note to investors, per the Times. “While there are many competitors in the E.V. space, Tesla continues to dominate market share as evidenced again this quarter.”

936,000 Cars: How Did Tesla Do It?

The global shortage of computer chips left many automakers without a command center for everything from engine controllers to touch screens. Many idled plants. Most delivered underwhelming production numbers.

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in an earnings call this past July that Tesla would get around the computer chip shortage by switching to different kinds of chips and writing new firmware into those chips. He told investors that writing the new firmware took weeks in and of itself.

“It was an incredibly intense effort of finding new chips, writing new firmware, integrating with the vehicle and testing in order to maintain production,” Musk said, according to Supply Chain Dive. He added that Tesla’s 2021 growth would be determined by its weakest link: the chip supply, which was “a factor on our output” even for Tesla.

The company warned in a quarterly earnings report that its chip workaround “may be difficult to sustain” long-term.

Tesla managed to switch to different kinds of chips and write new firmware for them because its car parts are engineered to be controlled by software, according to the Times.

In 2021, the Company’s Market Value Soared Above $1 Trillion

All things considered, Tesla is doing quite well as 2022 kicks off. This past October, the company’s market value rose beyond $1 trillion for the first time. It surpassed General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Stellantis, BMW, and a few other automakers combined.

That development put Tesla in the same league with trillion-dollar tech behemoths like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. And Tesla owed it to Hertz, which had just announced that it would order 100,000 Teslas to boost its electric vehicle rental fleet. The deal promises to bring Tesla roughly $4.2 billion, CNBC reported.

Tesla has agreed to deliver those cars to Hertz within the next year.