Tesla delivered nearly 1 million EVs in 2021

Whether or not it can maintain that pace is another matter.

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk (L) is seen as he uses his mobile device in the car arriving to the construction site for the new plant, the so-called "Giga Factory", of US electric carmaker Tesla, in Gruenheide near Berlin, northeastern Germany. - The site still has only provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk. Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to "the largest battery factory in the world", according to group boss Elon Musk. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)
ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla's sales success in 2021 continued right to the very end of the year. The company has revealed that it delivered 936,172 electric cars in 2021, about 308,600 of them in the fourth quarter. While that isn't the magic 1 million figure the company might have hoped for, it's close — and nearly double the 499,550 Tesla handed to customers in 2020.

The year gone by wasn't stellar for the Model S and Model X. Deliveries of those higher-end vehicles dropped by more than half in 2021, from 57,039 cars to 24,964. That wasn't a complete shock, though, as many customers wanted to (or had to) wait for S and X revamps that weren't slated to ship until spring, including the high-performance Plaid variants.

The delivery numbers are significant given chip shortages that have plagued the automotive industry and even led Tesla to ship some cars without USB ports. The company is also poised to keep growing between the planned Cybertruck launch in 2022 and new factories in the Austin and the Berlin areas.

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This trajectory isn't guaranteed, however. Tesla had a mixed 2021 that included product delays (including the Cybertruck and Semi), gradual price hikes and a string of recalls, including one in December that targeted half a million vehicles with camera and trunk flaws. There are concerns Tesla's growing reputation for build quality issues could weigh the company down. That's also excluding competitive threats — Tesla will have to fend off Ford's F-150 Lightning, the Cadillac Lyriq, the Mercedes EQA and other EVs from big-name rivals. Elon Musk's outfit is in a good position given its existing performance, but the market could change quickly.

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Tesla delivered nearly 1 million EVs in 2021