Not Everybody Gets To Be Tesla

Illustration for article titled Not Everybody Gets To Be Tesla
Illustration: Nikola
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I don’t make the rules, but things didn’t exactly sparkle for Tesla-lookalike Nikola after its debut earnings release. That and more in The Morning Shift for August 5, 2020.

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1st Gear: Nikola Stock Down As It Posts First Reported Results

Nikola does what Tesla does, currently promising an electric pickup truck not long after showing an electric semi. While Tesla gets to float up past Toyota in market evaluation, Nikola is experiencing a drop, as CNBC reports:

The hybrid truck manufacturer’s stock tanked 17% in extended trading after the company reported its second-quarter results, the company’s first financial report since going public. Nikola posted a loss of 16 cents per share on solar revenue of $36,000. The company said it plans to begin fleet testing Tre electric trucks in 2021.

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I don’t know if Nikola is any less likely than Tesla to execute on its EV truck plans, but I know that the shine Tesla seems to have doesn’t look like it’s rubbing off on Nikola.

2nd Gear: Shimano Outpaces Nissan

This is the most 2020 news item I could imagine, as far as the auto business could go. Nissan just got outpaced by a bike parts company.

It’s not fair to say that this is just related to Covid. Nissan has been having its own troubles for some time now, and also the bike parts company in question is none other than the legendary Shimano. The Nikkei Asian Review reports:

The coronavirus crisis is dramatically adjusting the relative strength of companies, a trend not lost on the stock market, where the share price of Shimano, the big bicycle parts maker, hit another all-time high in August.

Shimano’s market capitalization at the end of January, well before the outbreak became a full-blown pandemic, was 1.6 trillion yen ($15.3 billion). That was good for No. 86 in Japan. But by the end of July, the component maker’s market cap reached 2.1 trillion yen, putting it at No. 61 in the same ranking.

As it climbed 25 places, Shimano overtook West Japan Railway (JR West), in April, and automobile giant Nissan Motor, in June.

The market is telling us something.

We’re all clearly thinking the same thing: The market is telling us that Nissan should get us that new Z car into production already.

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3rd Gear: Ever The Optimist, Honda Expects Mere 64% Drop In Profits For 2020

Just yesterday, we discussed how Honda (among others) were starting to get hopeful expectations about 2020, as people got back to normal. That is, that people were starting to buy cars and avoid public transit.

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Today Honda gave us a little taste of that optimism: a mere 64 percent drop in net profits! This is what good news looks like, I guess, as the Japan Times reports:

Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it expects its fiscal 2020 net profit to fall 63.8 percent from a year earlier to ¥165 billion ($1.56 billion) due to weak demand for its cars amid the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

While the nation’s second-largest automaker by volume said it booked a net loss of ¥80.87 billion in the first quarter to June, it sees a gradual recovery in global auto and motorcycle demand in the remainder of the current business year through March.

The automaker forecasts its operating profit in the year to drop 68.4 percent to ¥200 billion, on estimated sales of ¥12.8 trillion, down 14.3 percent.

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As ever, things could be worse. You could always be Nissan.

4th Gear: Lewandowski Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

If you have been online long enough to remember the beginnings of the Lewandowski saga between Google and Uber, it’s hard to imagine that a member of the Silicon Valley... is elite the right word? I’m not sure. Lewandowski seemed like a Silicon Valley poster child, at one point starting a religion about robots.

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That is precisely the kind of guy who I think of not getting sentenced, but 2020 is holding nothing back, as the Financial Times reports:

Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Google’s self-driving car project, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets and allegedly using them to help build a rival driverless programme at Uber, which he is now suing for $4bn.

Mr Levandowski, who had pleaded guilty to one of the 33 counts against him in March, will not go to prison right away because of coronavirus concerns.

He has previously called prison time a “death sentence” because of Covid-19, after prosecutors had earlier recommended a sentence of 24-30 months.

Judge William Alsup has ordered him to be under house arrest until his sentence can begin, describing his actions as “the biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen

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Shout out to Levandowski calling prison a death sentence because of Covid. Show me the lie.

5th Gear: ChargePoint Raises Another $127 Million

Do you remember ChargePoint, the gigantic network of EV charging stations across the country? No? Is it because they’re pretty much all not-fast-charging, and have been totally eclipsed in the national consciousness by Tesla Superchargers? Probably! Anyway, Icon of the Old Days of EVs, ChargePoint, raised another $127 million, as a Bloomberg wire report notes:

ChargePoint Inc., builder of the world’s largest electric-vehicle charging network, raised $127 million in its latest round of funding as the company adds more locations in the U.S. and Europe.

The company has raised $667 million to date and plans to use the funds to expand its network, which has more than 115,000 charging spots worldwide. ChargePoint expects electric-vehicle sales to continue rising and has a goal of expanding its network to 2.5 million spots by 2025.”

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Just as ChargePoint feels almost vintage in the EV world today, so does $127 million seem like a vintage amount of money for an EV-related company to raise. But this is real progress , real in a way that Tesla’s seesaw valuations are not.

Reverse: No Words Describe How Pissed I Am About This, Still, To This Day

Via History:

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan begins firing 11,359 air-traffic controllers striking in violation of his order for them to return to work. The executive action, regarded as extreme by many, significantly slowed air travel for months.

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Fuck this History blurb for acting like the damage done by Reagan was about air travel. This was a huge hit to workers across America, and has cast organized labor as petulant and improper ever since. We are still recovering from this shit.

Neutral: How Is Your Bike?

Have you been riding more since Covid? Have you been working on any restoration of a dusty machine in your garage? I certainly have.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

1st Gear: I’m no apologist for Tesla, trust me. But Tesla has a solid track record of, like, actually manufacturing shit. Maybe not on schedule, and perhaps not with the greatest quality, but building units and pushing them out the door on a daily basis. Nikola? They just broke ground on a manufacturing facility that won’t be completed by their estimates until late 2021.

Documented manufacturing experience vs. unproven production projections. I think there might be more than Musk’s showmanship behind the valuation differences between Tesla and Nikola. Just sayin’ ...