Ford Motor said on Thursday that it made a hefty profit in 2021 because of a big gain on its holding in a fledgling electric-vehicle maker and higher production in the second half of last year.
The automaker also said the shortage of computer chips that slowed vehicle production last year was easing.
In a conference call, Ford’s chief financial officer, John Lawler, said the company expected to continue to face tight chip supplies and supply-chain disruptions because of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the first quarter of this year.
“We see things improving significantly after that,” he said. Chip makers have been working to add production capacity for automotive chips “that will start to come online in the second half,” he added.
Ford earned $17.9 billion in 2021, a rebound from a loss in 2020. It was helped by a $9.1 billion gain in the value of its stake in Rivian, a maker of electric trucks. Rivian completed an initial public offering in the fall and its stock surged after it began trading, though it has fallen sharply since mid-November.
Ford reported revenue of $136 billion, up from $127 billion in 2020. It was the second year in a row that Ford ended the year with more revenue than General Motors.
Ford said it expected profit before certain expenses to increase 15 percent to 25 percent this year.
Ford is counting on a new electric pickup truck to lift sales in 2021. The truck, the F-150 Lightning, will go into production in the next few months, and Ford has said it has taken in more than 200,000 reservations from customers. The company is also close to selling an electric delivery van that has drawn strong interest from fleet and corporate customers.
“The first wave of our electric vehicles is extremely popular and they’re bringing in new customers to Ford,” Mr. Lawler said.
Established automakers are racing to field new electric models to compete with Tesla, which sold nearly one million vehicles globally last year, nearly twice as many as the year before.
The F-150 Lightning could pose serious competition to Tesla because it is based on a conventional truck with a large customer base — it is the top-selling vehicle in the United States — and Tesla does not yet make a pickup truck.
Ford hopes to produce 60,000 or more Lighting pickups this year and 150,000 a year by 2024.