Tesla's first quarter in 2021 was as busy as ever, despite being forced to find solutions to serious global issues like the semiconductor shortage and the continued effects of the pandemic on supply chains, according to its investor deck published Monday. As in the past few quarters, Tesla managed to turn a profit, but the financials don't tell the whole story.
The big news is that Tesla once again managed to beat its own record for production and customer deliveries, delivering 184,877 vehicles in Q1. That's possible because of continued expansion at the Gigafactory in Shanghai and continued high-volume production of Models 3 and Y at Fremont. These numbers will likely continue to go way up as new Gigafactories in Germany and Texas come online.
A big part of Tesla's ability to keep production up during the silicon shortage has been its willingness to pivot away from the various microcontrollers and other processors that it's historically used and towards units that are more readily available in the current climate. This has necessitated firmware changes to make the new hardware work, but to their credit, Tesla's engineers have apparently kept on top of the issue.
The company also continues to develop its problematically named "Full Self-Driving" software and claims that it's almost totally reliant on cameras now, with radar nearly eliminated much sooner than expected. This cameras-only methodology flies in the face of convention, which sees other, more established developers using a combination of cameras, lidar and radar.
Tesla's shareholder statement unsurprisingly lacked any mention of the company's recent negative publicity in the wake of a number of fatal crashes, including one in which no occupant was found in the driver's seat, and criticism from the press and politicians over its lack of driver-monitoring technology and its potentially misleading naming.
Finally, Tesla managed to find a new place to profit and that's in the current cryptocurrency boom. The company managed to snag a considerable $101 million profit by selling Bitcoin, which is only likely to make your crypto friends and your Tesla friends even more insufferable than they already likely are.