Tesla posts record $1.1bn profit but warns of chip shortage

An aerial view of Tesla's titanic Shanghai "gigafactory"

Credit: Visual China Group/Getty

Tesla’s quarterly profits have soared above $1bn (£726m) for the first time as it shrugged off troubles in China to double its revenue.

The electric vehicle maker led by Elon Musk made record profits of $1.1bn in the three months to the end of June on revenue of $12bn, compared to $104m in profit and $6bn revenue during the same period last year.

It built 206,421 cars during the quarter compared to 82,272 in the same period last year, with deliveries rising from 90,891 to 201,304. It also said that it was still on track to begin mass production in its new "gigafactories" in Berlin, Germany and Austin, Texas.

The percentage of its revenue that came from selling green tax credits to other carmakers, which has been controversial, fell from 50pc in the first three months of this year to 30pc. Shares leapt by 2.8pc in after-hours trading, climbing to $677 before paring gains. 

However, the company warned that its growth in 2021 could be sorely tested by the ongoing microchip shortage, which is projected to cost car makers about $110bn in lost revenue this year.

Mr Musk, chief executive, said: "While we’re making cars at full speed, the global chip shortage situation remains quite serious. For the rest of this year, our growth rate will be determined by the slowest part in our supply chain, and there are a wide range of chips that are at various times the slowest parts of the chain.

"The chip supply is fundamentally the limiting factor on our output. It is difficult for us to say how long this will last because this is out of our control…even achieving the output that we did achieve was only due to an immense effort from people within Tesla."

Tesla has suffered repeated turbulence this year in China, where analysts predict it will sell 40pc of its cars by 2022. The company does not say what proportion of its revenue comes from the country.

According to the Chinese Passenger Car Association, Tesla’s Chinese domestic sales fell from 35,478 in March to 11,671 in April, and only partly recovered to 21,936 in May, despite electric vehicle sales in China surging by 177pc since last year.

In June, Tesla was forced to issue software updates to about 285,000 Model 3 and Model Y cars in the country, comprising almost all the vehicles made in its Shanghai factory, due to errors with their cruise control system.

"China demand is a key driver for the long-term Tesla growth story, and the company must play nice in the sandbox with Beijing around safety issues," said Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities in a note last month.

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