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Daimler Is In Cost-Cutting Mode

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The Morning ShiftAll your daily car news in one convenient place. Isn't your time more important?

Daimler wants bigger profits, Nissan plans to sell lots of Rogues, and Faraday Future wants to go public. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 6, 2020.

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1st Gear: Daimler And Mercedes Have A New Plan 

The plan is to “make more money.”

From their release:

Mercedes-Benz has announced a new strategic course that will pursue profitable growth in the luxury segment and target leadership in electric drive and car software.

“In recent years we have done many things right: design, product engineering, brand rejuvenation, sales growth. As a result, we have put Mercedes back on top again. But we have not yet lived up to our full potential in terms of turning volume success into profit growth. That’s why we have refocused and are launching our new strategy. We intend to build the world’s most desirable cars. It’s about leveraging our strengths as a luxury brand to grow economic value and enhancing the mix and positioning of our product portfolio. We will unlock the full potential of our unique sub-brands – AMG, Maybach, G and EQ. Our strategy is designed to avoid non-core activities to focus on winning where it matters: dedicated electric vehicles and proprietary car software. We will take action on structural costs, target strong and sustained profitability,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG.

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What all of that actually means is a big cost-cutting effort, per Automotive News:

Daimler said Tuesday it will cut fixed costs, capital expenditures and R&D spending by more than 20 percent by 2025 compared with 2019 levels as part of a strategy overhaul to reposition Mercedes-Benz.

By 2025, Mercedes-Benz is aiming for a return on sales within a mid to high single-digit range, even under unfavourable market conditions, the carmaker said.

It will be interesting to watch this play out as Daimler/Mercedes also dump a bunch of money into electric cars.

2nd Gear: Nissan Is Still Kicking And Will Sell Lots And Lots Of Rogues

The third-generation Nissan Rogue is here; my colleague Erin Marquis has even driven it! It will start at $26,745, according to Automotive News. Nissan is going to sell a lot of these, as the Rogue is Nissan’s best-selling car by some margin. Nissan sold 350,447 Rogues last year; its next highest-selling car was the Altima, at 209,183.

The top-of-the-line Rogue Platinum with all-wheel drive is priced at $37,925. Both prices include shipping.

“Rogue is clearly one of the most important launches in the history of Nissan,” Chris Reed, Nissan North America’s senior vice president of R&D, told Automotive News this summer.

Indeed. The Rogue is a key model in the highly competitive compact crossover segment. It accounted for 12.4 percent of compact crossovers sold in the U.S. last year. The segment was the largest in 2019 behind full-size pickups.

The Rogue is Nissan’s equivalent of the Ford F-150, Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive, said in July.

“It’s their volume product, and it’s in the sweet-spot segment,” Schuster said.

3rd Gear: An Old Volkswagen CEO Is Tying Up With An EV Startup

The startup is called Piech Automotive, so named for the family that controls VW and Porsche. Its most prominent investor, according to Automotive News, is, well:

Matthias Mueller, the former CEO of Volkswagen Group, has been named chairman of Piech Automotive, an electric-car startup run by the son of the late former VW Group Chairman Ferdinand PIech.

Mueller is one of a number of high-profile figures involved in Piech Automotive, which was founded by Toni Piech and Rea Stark Rajcic, a Swiss designer and entrepreneur. They include tech investor Peter Thiel — a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook.

Piech Automotive said in a statement that it had completed its first round of investment with Thiel’s involvement, but did not provide further details. It announced that a second round to raise capital to launch a production car would be managed in the coming months under the leadership of UBS.

Mueller was ousted by VW Group’s board, controlled by the Piech-Porsche clan, in April 2018 and replaced by Herbert Diess.

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4th Gear: Toyota And Panasonic Will Make Batteries Together

Toyota has its mitts in just about every drivetrain tech imaginable—fuel cell, electric, something else called an internal combustion engine—and Reuters reports today that it will build batteries with Panasonic. This is for hybrid and electric cars, of course.

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From Reuters:

A joint battery venture of Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp on Tuesday said it will produce lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars at a plant in Western Japan from 2022 to meet growing demand for electric vehicles (EV).

The production line at a Panasonic factory in Tokushima prefecture will have enough capacity to build batteries for around 500,000 vehicles a year, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, Inc said in a statement.

“The global electric vehicle market is expected to continue growing rapidly,” the company said.

Established in April, Prime Planet Energy is 51% owned by Toyota Motor with Panasonic holding the remaining stake. The venture reflects the drive of both companies to become bigger global players in an industry vital for the development of affordable EVs.

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5th Gear: Faraday Future Aspires To Be Like Nikola

I kind of can’t believe Faraday Future is still around, but it refuses to die. Reuters reports that it is now pursuing going public, apparently aspiring to do what Nikola has done and what GM thought about doing. Which is actually what Tesla did first: Go public and use that investment to pay for research and development.

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From Reuters:

Electric vehicle startup Faraday Future aims to close a deal soon to go public through a reverse merger with a special-purchase acquisition company (SPAC), its CEO said on Monday.

“We are working on such a deal ... and will be able to announce something hopefully quite soon,” Carsten Breitfeld said of the possibility of a SPAC deal.

Breitfeld declined to say who Faraday is negotiating with or when a deal would close.

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I’m looking forward to blogging about how Faraday Future is an overvalued wreck six months from now, except at some point I don’t think investors will take the bait.

Reverse: Trains Robbed

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Neutral: How Are You?

I ate roughly a pound of mortadella and serrano ham for breakfast, things are just fine.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

3rd Gear: An Old Volkswagen CEO Is Tying Up With An EV Startup

(...)

They include tech investor Peter Thiel — a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook.

Around these parts I believe he’s better know for destroying websites like Jalopnik.

I won’t be rooting for this startup.