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Tesla is now more profitable than Ford and GM despite selling far fewer vehicles in Q1

Credit: Tesla Inc.

Tesla may be the rising star of America’s automotive sector, but for the longest time, Detroit giants General Motors and Ford have held significant advantages over their younger rival. Ford and GM still tend to deliver far more vehicles per quarter than Tesla, and they also tend to earn more money than the EV maker. The latter is no longer true. 

During the first quarter, Tesla reported a net income of $3.31 billion, representing a year-over-year increase of 658%. In Q1 2021, Tesla earned $438 million. In comparison, GM posted a net profit of $2.93 billion in the first quarter, a 3.04% year-over-year decrease. Ford, despite the success of vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E and the strength of its F-Series, posted a net loss of $3.1 billion in Q1 2022, partly due to its investment in electric truck maker Rivian. 

Tesla already dominates its American-born peers in the automotive sector in terms of market cap, with the company currently being valued at over $900 billion, and that’s after a substantial dip that’s likely aggravated by CEO Elon Musk’s recent TSLA selloff. General Motors currently has a market cap of $56.57 billion, while Ford is currently valued at $59.24 billion. 

It should be noted that Ford and GM still delivered far more cars than Tesla in the first quarter. The EV maker announced that it had delivered 310,048 cars in Q1 2022, which is still far behind Ford’s 970,000 and GM’s 1.427 million. Despite delivering less cars, Tesla still made more money than its more experienced Detroit-based rivals. 

According to The Street, Tesla was able to accomplish this due to a variety of factors. One of these is the company’s adjusted EBITDA margin in Q1 0222, which increased to 26.8% in the first quarter from 17.7% last year. GM’s adjusted EBIT margin was at 11.2% in the first quarter, while Ford posted an adjusted EBIT margin of 6.7%. 

Tesla seems to have accomplished this through a variety of novel strategies. Arguably one of these is the company’s savings on traditional advertisements. Tesla spends $0 on ads, relying instead on word-of-mouth and CEO Elon Musk’s online presence on Twitter to spread its brand image. Both Ford and GM are big ad spenders, with the latter spending $2.22 billion in advertisements in 2020, according to Statista

With Tesla now taking the crown of most profitable American automaker, there are only a couple more titles left for the EV company to claim. One involves the number of vehicles produced and delivered per year, and another is revenue. Vehicle deliveries and production may still take some time as Tesla only has four working EV factories today, but in terms of revenue, the electric car maker may be getting a shot sooner than expected. 

In the first quarter, GM’s revenue was listed at $35.98 billion, while Ford posted $34.48 billion. Tesla’s Q1 2022 revenue was listed at $18.76 billion. 

Disclaimer: I am long TSLA.

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Tesla is now more profitable than Ford and GM despite selling far fewer vehicles in Q1
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