Tesla TSLA, +3.61% will not reveal any new models in 2022. The electric automaker isn’t struggling. The announcement comes on the heels of its most successful quarter and most successful year. But with the entire auto industry hobbled by a global microchip shortage, Tesla will spend the rest of this year focused on keeping production of its current products as high as possible.
A flurry of Tesla news
Most automakers operate a public relations department that keeps up a steady cadence of news releases about future products and fields questions from reporters. Tesla does not.
That leaves reporters gathering what information we can from CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter account and quarterly communications with shareholders.
The company’s fourth-quarter results meant a sudden flurry of Tesla news.
Model 3, Y keeping everyone busy
New car sales are declining, but electric car sales are soaring. Overall new car sales fell by more than 21% between the last quarter of 2020 and 2021. But electric car sales rose by nearly 72%.
Tesla controls the electric car market in the U.S. More than 72% of all electric cars sold in America last quarter were Tesla products. The Model Y SUV was America’s best-selling electric vehicle (EV) last quarter, with more than 63,000 sold. The Tesla Model 3 sedan came in second, with more than 41,000 sold.
Other automakers have begun introducing electric cars, bringing Tesla a fight it hasn’t faced before. But the competition is still small in Tesla’s rearview mirror. The Ford F, -9.70% Mustang Mach-E came in a distant third, with a little over 8,000 sales.
With demand for the Model Y and Model 3 so high, Musk says, nearly every microchip the company can get its hands on goes into building one or the other. “If we were to introduce new vehicles, our total vehicle output would decrease.”
No Cybertruck, Roadster, Model 2
With that in mind, the company has formally delayed the next product it was scheduled to bring to market – its cyberpunk-looking electric pickup, the Cybertruck. The truck’s imminent delay has seemed inevitable since Tesla removed all dates from its reservation site for the truck last month. But Musk made it official in an investor call Jan. 26.
He also delayed a plan to resurrect the company’s first product – the Tesla Roadster – and a project to develop an electric semi-truck. Bringing out new products now, Musk said, “would not make any sense because we’ll still be parts-constrained.”
As for a rumored attempt to build a sub-$25,000 car — Tesla fans unofficially call it the Model 2, though the company hasn’t formally named it — Musk says it’s not even in the planning stages.
“We’re not currently working on a $25,000 car,” Musk said on the call. “We have too much on our plate.”
Some risk in delays
Delaying products you can’t get the parts to build seems like an obvious step. But there is some risk for Tesla in letting future products slip further into the future.
Musk showed a prototype of the Cybertruck in 2019, at which point it looked likely to be the first electric pickup to market.
The best Tesla could do now is fourth. Startup rival Rivian RIVN, +0.84% has already begun deliveries of its well-reviewed R1T electric truck. The first GMC Hummer EV pickups have reached customers as well. Ford has accepted more than 200,000 reservations for its F-150 Lightning and plans to begin deliveries this year. The Lighting is an all-electric version of the best-selling vehicle in America, the Ford F-150 pickup.
Should Tesla wait any longer on the Cybertruck, it may fall behind Chevrolet’s recently revealed Silverado EV.
The Roadster, as a high-performance 2-seater, has no current equivalent.
If Tesla were to build a sub-$25,000 electric car, they would likely have that segment of the market to themselves. Currently, it’s possible to buy a Nissan Leaf for less than $20,000 once federal tax incentives are applied. But Nissan NSANY, -2.73% has plans to replace the Leaf with an SUV that will probably carry a higher price.
Chevrolet has announced plans to build an electric version of its Equinox SUV with a target price of “around $30,000.” Several EVs currently on the market carry price tags in the low $30,000 territory after federal tax rebates, but their sticker prices remain in the $40,000 range.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.