NEW YORK:  Tesla rode rising demand for electric vehicles to a record $5.5 billion profit in 2021, but Elon Musk's company cautioned Wednesday that supply chain problems would continue to crimp production through 2022. The electric carmaker, which scored an 87 percent jump in auto deliveries last year in spite of the global semiconductor shortage, reported a 71 percent rise in revenues to $53.8 billion.

But Tesla said it saw no immediate relief from supply chain woes that have hit activity "for several quarters," it said. "We plan to grow our manufacturing capacity as quickly as possible," it said in a news release that reiterated the company's target of 50 percent annual growth. "The rate of growth will depend on our equipment capacity, operational efficiency and the capacity and stability of the supply chain," Tesla said. "Our own factories have been running below capacity for several quarters as supply chain became the main limiting factor, which is likely to continue through 2022."

Musk said he was heartened by announced new semiconductor capacity that should alleviate the imbalance by the end of 2022 or early 2023. But "there could be other issues" that surface this year, he said during a conference call with analysts and investors. Musk cited the supply chain issues as a factor in a decision to defer rollouts of new products this year, adding that the company will do engineering of its "Cybertruck" electric pickup with an eye towards a possible launch in 2023. "The fundamental focus of Tesla is scaling vehicles," Musk said, adding that had the company introduced new models in 2021, it would have resulted in lower overall production. Musk has previously also discussed introducing a $25,000 electric vehicle, but said that product too was not on the front burner. "We have too much on our plate," Musk said.


More factories ahead?

In the most recent quarter, Tesla scored a $2.3 billion profit, up more than eight times the year-ago level as revenues jumped 65 percent to $17.7 billion. Tesla has been ramping up production at factories in California and Shanghai, while also building new facilities in Germany and Texas. Tesla said it began building Model Y vehicles in Texas in late 2021, while it started equipment testing in Germany around the same time. "We are still in the process of finalizing the manufacturing permit from local authorities" in Germany, Tesla said.

Musk said he is looking at adding more manufacturing locations, with further announcements likely in late 2022. CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson characterized the company's cautious remarks on supply chains as unalarming. "Tesla has become masterful at underpromising and overdelivering and has now beat (expectations) in nine of the past 10 quarters," Nelson wrote. "We reiterate a 'Buy' opinion." Shares of Tesla gained 0.8 percent to $944.50 in after-hours trading. — AFP