Tesla announces record results in the first quarter of 2022 and a car without a steering wheel for 2024

Tesla announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2022 yesterday and they are excellent, to say the least. The electrical manufacturer broke records on all fronts: revenue, profits, delivered vehicles or even on the sidelines. Good news for shareholders, as component shortages continue to affect the entire industry.

The “Cyber ​​Rodeo” fireworks, the event organized by Tesla to celebrate the opening of its new factory in Texas (Tesla image).

In detail, its revenue reached $ 18.7 billion in the quarter, with a profit of $ 3.3 billion. The first quarter of 2021 was very different in comparison, with 10.3 billion in revenue, but only 438 million in profits. The difference is in the number of vehicles delivered –310,048, the overwhelming majority of which are Model 3 and Model Y– and especially in the margin made on each sale, which has reached 39.2% this quarter. An increase linked especially to an increasing average price of each vehicle.

These financial results were also an opportunity to take stock of Tesla’s future. The Chinese factory, which produces almost half of the vehicles sold by the manufacturer, was closed for several weeks due to the return of the pandemic and has only reopened this week at a slow pace. One month of production should be lost, which will necessarily have a big impact in the second quarter. And it is not the two new factories that have recently opened, in Texas and near Berlin, that will make the difference, they are still idling until further notice.

The production line of the new Tesla factory in Texas.

On this issue, the manufacturer notes that the new 4680 battery and the structural package, two major innovations, will not be imposed for a while. The Texas factory has begun producing Model Y with these features, but it will also quickly produce more classic versions, with older batteries. It will be the opposite in Germany, where production began with classic packs and will gradually move to new batteries by the end of the year. In Texas, mass production of these batteries is not expected until the third quarter at the earliest.

These commitments reveal a continuing difficulty in increasing the production of these internally designed batteries and announced in 2020. The first equipped Model Y show, in any case, that the advantage is the first for the manufacturer, which may reduce its production costs, rather than for the customer who initially should not benefit from a price reduction or an increase in battery capacity at the same price. That may change when mass production of 4680 batteries is reached, which is expected to take several years.

Meanwhile, Tesla continues to work with third-party batteries, mainly Panasonic for North America and LG for the rest of the world. Financial results also revealed that nearly half of the vehicles delivered during the quarter included an LFP battery supplied by the Chinese CATL. This corresponds to the Input Propulsion Model 3, which remains one of the most popular in the catalog.

One of the technical innovations of the Texas factory is to greatly simplify the metal structure of the car, with two huge pieces of metal to replace more than 170 separate elements.

Tesla’s future is also self-driving, and Elon Musk didn’t stop talking about it after the financial results. Now the company intends to produce a completely new vehicle, a “Robotaxi”, which will be designed solely for autonomous driving and therefore without steering wheel or pedals and which should offer the lowest operating cost, and “from afar”, for users. This model should be used to fill fleets of self-service vehicles in cities, rather than being sold to customers. And Tesla intends to launch its mass production quickly, as it is already scheduled for 2024, with a formal presentation next year.

An ambitious schedule that we will take with the big tweezers now mandatory when Elon Musk promises anything related to autonomous driving. Do we need to remind you that the head of Tesla has been multiplying promises since 2016, setting deadlines year after year? Right now, the FSD beta represents the most advanced version of autonomous driving and is still far, far away from working without human intervention, even on the wide roads of American cities. And since Elon Musk discovered Europe, he has become much more cautious with dates on this side of the Atlantic. However, the final version is still scheduled for the United States in 2022.

This idea of ​​a vehicle without a steering wheel or pedal is not new to Tesla, we talked about it in 2019, but with a nuance of size. At the time, it was the cars that were already on the road that were to be used to create these fleets of autonomous vehicles, and the company planned to recover them after a long-term rental, remove the steering wheels and incorporate them. them to the fleet. . The message seems to have changed, as if Tesla realized that the hardware installed in cars sold in recent years was not enough.

Tesla’s initial 2019 plan for Robotaxi: Model 3 and Model Y recovered by Tesla after LLD or LOA and adapted for autonomous driving.

Another question, has Tesla changed its mind about the smaller model to be designed in China, would it better fit the Chinese and European markets and add to the entry level? We no longer know how to talk about it and we might wonder if the future Robotaxi has not taken the place of this model. However, plans have time to change several times between now and 2024.

Remember that Tesla has three pending vehicles, some of which have been announced for the past five years: the Cybertruck, the Roadster, and the Semi. If all goes well, production should start in 2023, but it all depends heavily on the manufacturer’s ability to mass-produce its new batteries.

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