Tesla ended 2022 in tears, helped by recent price cuts for its electric sedans and SUVs. The automaker’s full-year 2022 earnings report, released at market close on Wednesday, showed it delivered 405,278 electric cars in the fourth quarter — up from 343,830 deliveries in the previous quarter. That brings Tesla’s total deliveries in 2022 to 1.31 million cars, a record high for the brand and a 40% year-over-year growth, but also just below its target of 1.4 million deliveries.
In Tesla’s earnings announcement, it notes that the average selling price for its vehicles “has generally been on a downward trend for many years.” The automaker slashed prices on its electric-car lineup by as much as 20% late last year — a move partially driven by lower demand but also to push the Model 3 and Model Y below the $55,000 qualifying cap for EVs the $7,500 electric sedan tax credit included last year Anti-Inflation Act.
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Investors weren’t very happy with the price cuts, but Elon Musk posited that cheaper Teslas were a good thing.
“Our goal has always been to make cars affordable for as many people as possible,” the Tesla CEO said in an interview with investors on Wednesday. “So I’m glad we’re able to do that.”
The automaker reports that the average selling price of a Tesla has halved between 2017 and 2022 and is expected to fall further. That’s partly due to price declines, but mostly because of the lower-priced Model 3 and Y, which now account for the lion’s share of Tesla’s production and shipments. In 2018, they accounted for just over half of Tesla’s 254,530 sales; today, they account for about 95% of the 1.31 million Tesla cars sold in 2022.
Despite the falling average transaction price, Tesla said it improved its operating margin from a negative 14% to a positive 17% over the 2017-2022 period, which is attributed to the same shift toward models that cost less to manufacture and its investment in localized, more efficient factories. Earlier this week, Tesla announced a new $3.6 billion investment Nevada Gigafactory, which will add two new factories to the facility: A 100 GWh factory will support sufficient production of its 4680 battery cells for up to 1.5 million light electric vehicles annually. Now a high volume Half The factory will eventually produce Tesla’s all-electric commercial vehicle.
Tesla also predicts that software-related profits, after-sales and services will fill some of the gap of lower transaction prices. “As we continue to innovate to reduce manufacturing and operating costs,” the Investor Deck states, “over time, we expect our hardware-related gains to be accompanied by an acceleration in software-related gains.”
Last year, Tesla has also released its Full Self-Driving Beta to approximately 400,000 customers in the US and Canada who have paid for the driver-assistance software, and while this launch was not without controversy, it is an important step in the automaker’s plan to accelerate its software-related revenue. FSD is a $15,000 surcharge on top of the vehicle cost starting with a September 2022 price increase. (We note that, as always, there are currently no self-driving cars for sale.)
“I’ve always said that Tesla is as much a software company as it is a hardware company, but Tesla is truly one of the world’s leading AI companies, both on the software and hardware side,” Musk said at the investor conference. “As we get closer to solving real-world AI, this is the thing that has orders of magnitude potential for Tesla.”
Used car sales, revenue from paid supercharging, and growth in stationary service and mobile service fleets also contribute to “a large part of profit in 2022,” according to the report. Meanwhile, outside of vehicle-related growth, Tesla also saw increases in its energy storage (152%) and solar power (18%) companies. Overall, Tesla posted net income of $3.7 billion, or $1.07 per share, in the fourth quarter, compared to $2.32 billion, or 68 cents per share. Revenue rose 37.2% to $24.4 billion.
Looking ahead, Tesla expects to continue on its growth trajectory, forecasting 1.8 million cars sold by 2023. Cybertruck Production is expected to begin in Texas later this year, with more details due at the automaker’s Investor Day event on March 1. Meanwhile, the Tesla Semi has entered pilot production in Nevada, with the first examples being delivered to PepsiCo late last year.