Major automakers posted record profits last year despite facing a triple threat: the COVID-19 pandemic, semiconductor shortages and higher commodity prices.
According to calculations by Automotive News Europe, total operating profits (before interest and taxes) at the largest European, U.S. and South Korean automakers more than doubled to 104.3 billion euros ($115.2 billion) in 2021 from 46.5 billion euros in 2020. Net profits grew to 90.2 billion euros from 21.7 billion euros, an increase of 315 percent.
Japanese automakers, where the fiscal year typically ends on March 31, were also on track for huge profits after the first three quarters.
Automakers were able to benefit from a number of factors in 2021 – largely the ability to command higher prices for their products due to the chip shortage -- but the Ukraine crisis may make it difficult to repeat.
For this article, ANEurope examined annual and quarterly reports of 10 selected automakers: BMW, Ferrari, Ford Motor, GM, Hyundai-Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Stellantis, Tesla and Volkswagen (see chart, below).