Tesla gains its income from more than its cars, and while the electric vehicle giant is becoming well-known in the auto industry, its other revenue streams are just as noteworthy. With a global reach that’s always expanding, mapping out Tesla’s income can be tricky — especially if you only know them for EVs.
Above: A Tesla Model Y and Model 3 in a showroom. Photo: Tesla
While Tesla makes much of its money from its car business, the company is bringing in other revenue from energy storage and regulatory credits, as detailed in a report from Forbes. In 2021, Tesla had a net income of $5.51 billion, marking a 665 percent increase from its net income of $721 million in 2020. This all begs the question: Will this trend continue?
Tesla opened two new factories this year, one in Germany and one in the US. While CEO Elon Musk cautioned that the factories weren’t yet sustaining themselves financially earlier this year, Giga Berlin hit a milestone of 1,000 vehicles produced in a single week. Giga Texas reached similar milestones in recent weeks. In the second quarter, Tesla produced 258,000 vehicles, delivering 254,000.
Tesla was founded and ran for 17 years before turning any profits. 2020 was the first year the automaker became profitable, largely due to the high price of volume production and other issues relating to the supply chain. Although auto sales have finally become profitable and make up much of the company’s income, the automaker was also given a boost in 2020 from the sale of regulatory credits.
Tesla gains regulatory emissions credits for producing EVs instead of gas cars. When gas automakers such as GM, Ford or Volkswagen fall short of low- and zero-emission production requirements in a given country, they can buy these credits directly from companies like Tesla. This category is listed with auto sales in its financial reports, though the Securities and Exchange Commission has questioned the automaker as to why these are listed together.
In the second quarter of this year, Tesla generated around $344 million in revenue from its regulatory credits. Throughout 2021, Tesla earned about $1.46 billion in regulatory emissions credits. Eventually, however, Tesla won’t be able to rely on these credits as automakers begin producing their own EVs at scale.
In the meantime, Tesla’s ever-expanding car business has surpassed a few important milestones, and its energy business is progressing nicely, too. Tesla’s Powerwalls, Megapacks and Solar Roof have helped the company establish programs like the Virtual Power Plant across the world. This category accounted for $2.78 billion in 2021, filed under energy generation and storage revenue in Tesla’s financial reports.
Finally, Tesla also makes money from the “services and other” category, including service to old vehicles, used cars, merchandise and Supercharger stations. Between all of these, Tesla has also continued to expand the deployment of Supercharger stations and new technology (like the upcoming V4 Supercharger stall), all while increasing its customer base in an expansion to include non-Tesla EVs.
As Tesla continues to shape its business model around new areas of growth, including new tech such as the Optimus robot, the Cybertruck, Full Self-Driving and a potential robotaxi business in the coming years, cars will remain the company’s flagship product. With increasing competition, Tesla will need to stay ahead of the curve and build on its current successes to remain on top.