electric car manufacturing auto factory

Tesla reported their fourth quarter earnings. The company earned $752 million in revenue from energy generation and storage, but they spent $787 million to earn that.

Tesla Revenue Q4 quarterly P&L

The company noted during the earnings call that SolarRoof ramp costs were weighing on the energy department profitability.

Total energy storage deployment, 3,022 MWh, was up 83% for the whole of 2020 vs 2019. The 4th quarter number 1,584 MWh deployed doubled Q3’20, tripled last year’s Q4 of 530 MWh, and was almost equal to what Tesla’s entire 2019 production of 1,651 MWh.

The company noted that much growth was driven by the popularity and high deployment speed of its utility scale energy storage product “Megapack.”

Tesla operational study Solar Deployed storage deployed supercharger stations connectorsSolar panel installations increased as well, totaling 205 MW for the year and 86 MW for the quarter. The annual number was an 18% increase year over year, compared to the previous year’s 173 MW of solar. The 86 MW was the company’s highest volume deployed since Q3’2018, and three times greater than the quarterly bottom of 29 MW in Q2’2019. The very strong Q4 number though is still less than one third the peak value installed in Q4’2015 of 272 MW by SolarCity. Current market leader Sunrun deployed 171 MW of solar in Q4’2020.

The company also noted their car charging infrastructure numbers. Supercharger locations increased by 2,181 in the quarter, and actual charging plugs at those stations increased by 19,437. That works out to roughly 21 cars sold per connection added.

Anecdotally, CommercialSolarGuy traveled 3,500 miles over the holidays on a camping trip across the East Coast of the USA. We mostly used Superchargers and had no issues finding electricity.

Starting out the question portion of the earnings call, an investor asked about the slow solar power roll out, and future growth. Tesla noted that significant amounts of attention was being focused on the deployment of the Model 3, and solar power was left behind a bit.

Elon Musk said

“we do actually expect to become the market leader in solar and then go far beyond it…There’s also a tremendous way to go on solar power, although it’s exciting to see the advent of very cost-competitive wind and solar and geothermal. And of course, we need a large volume of stationary battery packs. I mean basically, maybe the three legs of a sustainable energy future are sustainable energy generation, led by solar, wind, geothermal and hydro and a few others.”

There was no explicit data detailing Teslas battery capacity delivered in 2020.  A rough estimate adding the nearly 500,000 new cars produced in 2020 (averaging ~80 kWh each) with the 3 GWh of stationary energy storage delivers estimates of roughly 40 GWh of battery cells.  The 499,647 vehicles produced in 2020 represent more than double Tesla’s auto production in 2018, when they rightfully boasted about delivering 245,240 vehicles that year.  The 2018 production numbers were a significant milestone: Tesla produced nearly as many vehicles in 2018 as it had produced in the company’s entire history.

Tesla has been rapidly upgrading their Fremont Factory to launch a new Model S and Model X, featuring a heat pump for more efficient climate control, an entirely new interior, and updated powertrain components developed for the Model 3 and Model Y.  Gigafactory Berlin and Gigafactory Texas will begin delivering vehicles in 2021, while Gigafactory Shanghai continues production and expansion.  Officially, 2021 will also bring the first deliveries of Tesla’s Semis, but Musk cautioned, “Semi would use typically 5x the number of cells that [a] car would use, but it would not sell for 5x what a car would sell for. So it kind of doesn’t make — it would not make sense for us to do the Semi right now, but it will absolutely make sense for us to do it as soon as we can address the cell production constraint.”

On Tesla’s Battery Day the company projected a 3,000 GWh/year battery cell manufacturing capacity target – half the amount needed to build 20 million cars, the other half for stationary storage. The company’s 2022 battery cell manufacturing target is 100 GWh, with a goal doubling of capacity to 200 GWh/year by the end of 2022 as multiple factories around the globe complete construction.

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About John Fitzgerald Weaver

John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar developer; known digitally as the 'Commercial Solar Guy.' As a project developer and installer, he’s sold and managed 50+ solar projects, valued over $25 million, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW. He’s been involved in many aspects of the solar supply chain –- as a company founder, developer, project manager, manufacturer, permit runner, salesman, contractor and financier. In his free time he tries to get away and clear his mind by climbing mountains, or more regularly by enjoying an IPA or scotch, and really loves the strange connection between politics, energy, finance, and environment in the energy world.