BMW Has Turned The Page On 2020

Illustration for article titled BMW Has Turned The Page On 2020
Photo: BMW
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BMW has a “favorable tailwind,” Toyota’s president is talking a little shit about Apple, and the other Rolls-Royce. All that and more in The Morning Shift for March 10, 2021.

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1st Gear: BMW Is More Than Ready To Put 2020 Behind It

Last year was a shit year for everyone, some more than others. BMW had a bad year, but BMW is also one of those automakers that always seems to do just fine, almost annoyingly so.

From Reuters:

BMW said on Thursday that it was back on a profitable track in 2021 after recovering from shutdowns and a serious dent to sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of last year.

The premium German carmaker said it would have five fully-electric models available this year, as it races alongside the rest of the industry to roll out new zero-emission models in the face of tightening CO2 emissions targets in Europe and China.

Plant shutdowns in the first half of 2020 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus led many in the industry to expect a disastrous year, but a market rebound spurred by China helped the industry recover faster than expected.

“Our performance in the second half of the year demonstrated just how strong the BMW Group is ... we soon overcame the impact of weeks of plant closures and nationwide lockdowns,” Chief Executive Oliver Zipse said. “We are starting 2021 revitalised and with a favourable tailwind.”

BMW sales in China rose 7.4% in 2020 versus 2019, mostly offsetting declines in other regions.

[...]

BMW said that, with the exception of the second quarter, it remained profitable throughout 2020.

It’s hard to comprehend just how big automakers are, but if you ever go to Greer, South Carolina, and see BMW’s massive operation there (all the big X SUVs come out of SC), you’ll get a very good idea.

2nd Gear: Akio Toyoda Is In A Shit-Talking Mood

The Toyota president said Thursday that Apple should realize that making a car is serious business.

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From The Wall Street Journal:

“Anyone can make a car if they have the technical ability, but, once they make a car, I hope they’ll recognize they have to steel themselves for 40 years of responding to customers and to various changes,” Mr. Toyoda said at a Thursday news conference in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

[...]

Mr. Toyoda said he had no problem with Apple making cars, but he said car makers have to deal with many issues over the life of a vehicle, starting with obtaining the materials to manufacture it and ending with its scrapping decades later.

“Technology companies entering the car industry means that the car industry has a future and choices for customers will widen,” Mr. Toyoda said. “We welcome new entries, but I don’t think it would be fair for those people who are newly entering to say, ‘We don’t need to steel ourselves for 40 years, and you other folks who have been around for many years, you do that.’ ”

Apple’s Japan office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

An Apple car remains a far-out possibility for me, not just because mass-producing cars is hard but also, closer to home, the fact that every time we write a story about it approximately zero people read said story. It suggests to me that everyone else doesn’t quite buy that it will happen either. Up to Apple to prove me, Jalopnik readers, and Akio Toyoda wrong, I guess.

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3rd Gear: Rolls-Royce Says It Will Persist

This is Rolls-Royce the airplane-engine-making company, not Rolls-Royce the BMW-owned car brand. Air travel is down amid the pandemic, and that has led to a crisis for the industry at large, including Rolls-Royce. Its CEO said Thursday, however, that the future is brighter.

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From Reuters:

Rolls-Royce has enough funding to weather the crisis in the aviation industry caused by the pandemic, its chief executive said on Thursday, after the engine maker plunged to a record 4 billion pound ($5.6 billion) underlying loss for 2020.

The British company said its cash burn should halve this year, and turn positive in the second half as vaccinations kick in and travellers return to the skies.

“The worst is now well behind us,” CEO Warren East said.

But even if that proves optimistic, Rolls is well placed to cope with more turmoil after a drive to cut costs and raise funds, he added.

“We have our cash burn under control ... We have ample liquidity to get through this crisis as long as it lasts,” East told reporters.

Rolls’ model of charging airlines for the number of hours its engines fly meant much of its income dried up last year when travel stopped, forcing it to ask shareholders for cash and take on 5.3 billion pounds of new debt.

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I remember many years ago coming across a Rolls-Royce facility in Ohio when I was living there and being very confused.

4th Gear: The U.S. Needs To Get To Work On Cutting Emissions

The rubber is starting to hit the road all over the world in terms of doing the business of actually fighting climate change, with strict emissions regulations in Europe coming to bear, China prioritizing EVs, and, finally, the U.S. again starting to do its part. What’s needed is pretty drastic, according to a new report.

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From Reuters:

The U.S. needs to target a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 57-63 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 in order to achieve the Biden administration’s longer-term goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to a new analysis released on Thursday.

Climate Action Tracker analyzed President Joe Biden’s plans to decarbonize the new vehicle fleet, commercial buildings and the electricity sector and found that in order for the U.S. to do its share to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius — the goal of the Paris Agreement — it needs to cut at least 57 percent of its emissions by the end of the decade.

The analysis comes before the United States is due to announce its new Paris Agreement pledge for 2030 known as a Nationally Determined Contribution ahead of a climate leaders’ summit the country will host on April 22.

Biden’s climate team, led by National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and Climate Envoy John Kerry, is holding meetings with car companies and utilities as it crafts its new goal.

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It is probably one of the cooler things we’ll all get to experience, the world banding together to literally save itself.

5th Gear: JD Power Releases Its Customer Service Index Study

Which surveys owners on their experiences with various brands’ dealership service arms. You won’t be terribly surprised at the results — Porsche owners really like their dealers, so do Lexus ones — but here are the rankings for “premium” automakers:

Illustration for article titled BMW Has Turned The Page On 2020
Graphic: JD Power
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Alfa Romeo, Land Rover, and Jaguar owners must really hate themselves. They always rank near the bottom in surveys like this. Anyway, here are the rankings for mass-market automakers:

Illustration for article titled BMW Has Turned The Page On 2020
Graphic: JD Power
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Mitsubishi!

Reverse: Toyota Prius

When the Prius debuted in 1997 it was considered a “gamble,” according to a May 2008 report on Wired.com, because “gas was cheap, SUVs ruled the earth and global warming was only beginning to penetrate mainstream consciousness.” However, the Prius’s hybrid technology–which uses an electric motor to supplement power from the gasoline, resulting in lower emissions and higher gas mileage–quickly developed a following. Upon its arrival in America, the Prius was an early hit in Hollywood and environmentally conscious celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz were spotted driving their Priuses around Los Angeles. For the 2003 Academy Awards, Toyota provided a fleet of Priuses to chauffeur celebrities such as Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart to the ceremony. Between 2000 and February 2009, Toyota sold over 700,000 Priuses in America, or more than half of the 1.2 million Priuses purchased around the planet.

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I feel like a history of the early aughts when celebrities embraced the Prius would be good.

Neutral: How Are You?

There is a car parked on my street with an alarm so sensitive that it is set off by passing motorcycles. But yes I’m sure it’s thwarted lots of thieves.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

DISCUSSION

Wow, MINI is at the top of the list? haha