Clean energy journalism for a cooler tomorrow

Tesla delivered almost 1 million EVs in 2021, a historic milestone

And Tesla recalled almost half a million EVs in 2021, another historic milestone.
By Eric Wesoff

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk (Britta Pedersen/Getty Images)

As host Stephen Lacey and his guest, your humble narrator, point out in the most recent episode of the Carbon Copy podcast, Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk are a study in good news and bad news.

Tesla just wrapped up its best quarter ever for electric car shipments, the company announced as it released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2021 EV production numbers on Sunday morning. It soundly beat Wall Street analyst volume estimates, defying supply-chain issues and finishing the year on a high note thanks to a production ramp at its Shanghai factory.

Tesla’s head of investor relations, Martin Viecha, tweeted:

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The total number of deliveries for the year was 936,172, a massive increase from 499,550 in 2020. No EV vendor in the history of the sector has produced these kinds of volumes.

Tesla plans to begin production in its new plants in Austin, Texas and Berlin, Germany this year, and Wall Street analysts are expecting another sizable volume ramp-up, with deliveries estimated to exceed 1.4 million units in 2022.

And the bad news

There’s bad news as well: Tesla finished the year with the largest recall in the company’s history.

As Reuters reported on December 31, Tesla is recalling more than 475,000 of its Model 3 and Model S electric cars for rearview camera and trunk flaws that could cause a crash.

The model years affected in the recall range from 2014 to 2021, and the total number of recalled vehicles is almost equivalent to the half a million vehicles Tesla delivered last year. Around 200,000 Tesla vehicles will be recalled in China,” according to the news service.

Tesla said it is not aware of any crashes, injuries or deaths related to the issues cited in the recall of Model 3 and Model S cars,” as reported in FT.

Shitposter extraordinaire

The most recent episode of Carbon Copy covers the ups and downs of Tesla and Musk.

As Lacey puts it:

Yes, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, the guy who made electric cars cool, who proved rocket engineers wrong, the richest man in the world and, of course, Twitter shitposter extraordinaire.

Tesla single-handedly pushed the auto industry to take electric cars more seriously. There’s no doubt about that. Musk made people drool over solar shingles and batteries mounted in garages.

But then there were moments like the one at a Wall Street Journal CEO summit [in December]. Musk was asked whether Congress should pass Joe Biden’s climate package. That package would provide historic backing for the electric vehicle market, and seemingly that’s something that Musk would support.

Musk said, Delete.” He wants all subsidies removed.

Now this is a guy who says climate change is one of the biggest threats facing society who’s trying to colonize Mars as a backup plan for if or when we totally screw up this planet. And to support his ventures, he’s taken well over $5 billion in government funding, including hundreds of millions of dollars every quarter from credits created by states to support electric cars.

This is the duality of Elon Musk and Tesla. Musk says he wants to create companies that help humanity, but he doesn’t bring much humanity to the table himself. He burns through staff. He mocks people publicly. He makes impulsive decisions that can send Tesla teams scrambling at a moment’s notice. Still, he is the person who put electric cars on the map.

Musk is pulling up the ladder behind him after he’s benefited from government largesse in the form of loans and credits.

Download the full podcast episode here.

Eric Wesoff is editorial director at Canary Media.