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Can Tesla Lead EV Stocks Higher in 2022?

By Dan Caplinger – Jan 3, 2022 at 8:33AM

Key Points

  • The Nasdaq looks ready to start 2022 on a positive note.
  • Tesla released its latest delivery and production numbers, and they were good.
  • Rival EV stocks in China also followed suit by moving higher.

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The electric car pioneer got off to a good start.

2021 was a strong year for the stock market, and investors hope that 2022 can provide a repeat performance and give them double-digit returns once again. On the first trading day of the year, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.29%) seemed ready to keep up its momentum, with futures contracts on the index rising three-quarters of a percent as of 7:15 a.m. ET.

Tesla (TSLA -0.17%) put in another amazing performance in 2021, with its stock adding another 50% for the year. The growth of its electric vehicle (EV) business has been stellar, and over the weekend, Tesla reported impressive delivery numbers that complemented the numbers from its Chinese competitors quite well.

Red Tesla vehicle on pavement with a cityscape in the background.

Image source: Tesla.

More records fall for Tesla

Shares of Tesla climbed more than 7% in premarket trading on Monday morning. The EV manufacturer's fourth-quarter delivery and production numbers came out, and they marked another high note for bullish shareholders in the stock.

Tesla's Sunday report showed it produced almost 306,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter of 2021. That brought its total production for the year to more than 930,000 vehicles, most of which were mass-market Model 3s and Model Ys. Delivery figures were even more impressive, with 308,600 cars and SUVs going out in the fourth quarter, bringing the total for the year to 936,172.

Many had thought that Tesla's initial hope for a 50% rise from the 500,000 vehicles it delivered in 2020 was overly ambitious. However, the final numbers show the huge demand for Tesla EVs as well as the company's ability to get its manufacturing capacity up. Investors are hoping for similar outperformance in 2022.

Chinese EV makers weigh in

Also on the rise were shares of EV manufacturing companies located in China. Tesla's numbers helped lift the whole industry, but its competitors also reported solid production and delivery numbers of their own.

Nio (NIO 0.89%) shares were up more than 2% in premarket trading. The company delivered nearly 10,500 vehicles in December, up 50% year over year, and topped the 25,000 mark for quarterly deliveries. All told, Nio delivered 91,429 vehicles in 2021, which was more than double its 2020 count.

XPeng (XPEV -1.36%) delivered vehicles at an even faster rate. The Chinese company reported 16,000 deliveries in December, up 181% year over year. That marked more than 41,750 vehicles in the fourth quarter, which was more than triple the year-ago figure, and total deliveries for 2021 came in at 98,155. That prompted a nearly 3% rise in the stock price in premarket trading Monday.

Finally, Li Auto (LI -0.57%) saw its shares also rise almost 3%. Li delivered 14,087 of its electric cars during the month of December. Fourth-quarter deliveries came in at 35,221, up 144% from year-earlier levels. For the year, Li delivered almost 90,500 EVs.

The future of EVs

Despite the fundamental success of all of these businesses, stock performance among EV companies has been mixed. XPeng and Li have managed to post gains over the past year, but Nio lost 35% of its stock price as investors seemed surprised that its Chinese competitors' delivery figures raced past its own.

The growth of the entire EV industry is likely to continue in 2022, and the question will be who benefits the most from that growth. As new players like electric truck disruptor Rivian Automotive (RIVN -0.38%) and established automakers like Ford Motor Company (F 0.80%) start moving toward bringing more EVs to market, Tesla will have to maintain its immense customer loyalty and first-mover advantage to produce the sort of gains shareholders have gotten used to seeing.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends NIO Inc. and Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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