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To be honest, this article could just contain this chart (and a mic drop somewhere in the background):
Tesla beat expectations posting US$3.7 billion in profit in the fourth quarter of 2022, for a total of US$12.6 billion in 2022 — or more than twice the US$5.5 billion it recorded in 2021.
Revenue posted a jump of over 50 per cent to US$81.5 billion, very nearly four times of what it was before the pandemic.
And yet, a month ago, we heard complaints coming from some corners that “a Tesla investor slammed Elon Musk and said he is ‘killing the company with his antics’ at Twitter” and that he “abandoned it”.
Well, it looks like it was nothing more than a PR slap done for partisan, political purposes by someone who dislikes Elon’s approach to managing Twitter and his stance on American politics, rather than an honest opinion about how the world’s most coveted electric vehicle maker is being run.
And, as the stock market comprises a bit more than a few sour grapes, the response of the money couldn’t be any clearer, as Tesla’s shares have rallied 63 per cent in a month:
And while they are still down from their peaks of the cheap cash infused bonanza of 2021 and parts of 2022, they are still worth five times what they were on the eve of the global pandemic.
That’s 500 per cent up during a time of freeze on travel and even basic commute, supply chain issues, shortages of semiconductors, Russian invasion of Ukraine, raging global inflation and tightening competition which has forced Tesla to slash prices of its cars.
I have to say, I used to be a major Tesla skeptic myself. The company struggled to make money and when it did register its first profit three years ago, it was on the back of carbon credits.
As recently as in the first quarter of 2021, it made more money trading CO2 and crypto than selling cars.
But it’s growing — and rapidly, at that. It delivered 1.4 million cars in 2022 and is expecting to hit 1.8 million this year, if not two million, which would mean it has quadrupled its output in just three years.
From a niche startup making premium cars for early adopters willing to accept the growing pains of a new industry, it is becoming a proper car company, rapidly catching up on the big guys.
The leaders at Toyota and Volkswagen are feeling the pinch. Toyota’s annual sales in 2022 fell, reportedly under 10 million units, or down by about five per cent from the year before (see chart). Meanwhile, Volkswagen is continuing its downward trend, delivered the fewest cars in a decade, at just 8.3 million.
It’s clear that Tesla is eating into the market share quite rapidly, taking around half a million cars from everybody else year on year.
Reaching two million would put it at a quarter of Volkswagen’s production — and we have to remember that the Volkswagen Group sells a whole range of cars under multiple brands (like Audi, Skoda or Seat) in markets all over the world.
In contrast, Tesla offers just four models.
Its good year-end performance and positive outlook for 2023 should give Musk some respite from the attacks he’s enduring for his handling of Twitter, as he tries to turn it into a profitable social media platform which doesn’t bend to the whims of certain political and ideological influencers.
It also goes to show that, for all the controversy associated with it, Tesla’s customers are not abandoning it in droves over the ruckus.
As one of the company’s fleet partners, Optimus EV reported that only two “out of thousands” of its customers decided to switch in recent months — surely not something that is going to keep Musk awake at night.