Did Elon Mess Up Real Bad With His Take-Private Twitter Proposal?

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1st Gear: Not Saying It’s Crimes, But

In case you had wildly better things to do yesterday than be on Twitter (I was out doing a video with a bunch of people about an old RX-7, I promise you it was better than The Tweets), you may have missed that Tesla chairman and CEO Elon Musk was just all “thinking about taking this bad boy private at $420 a share,” out of nowhere:

Which was considered Crazy News on multiple levels. Yeah, in large part because Tesla, an enormous publicly traded company, could go private! And that can mean a lot of Tesla stakeholders! But also, the dude just TWEETED IT OUT.

And there’s a reason why, historically, companies and people who run them don’t just tweet that shit out. Not only because that’s a weird way to announce massive news like that with the sparsest of details, but because there’s a lot of really good laws that govern that sort of thing. Laws that are meant to protect investors from the biggest funds to your grandma with her life savings buried in the company.


Laws that are there for a goddamn reason. Not just to harsh your buzz about being a Cool and Chill Dude who Tweets. So when companies announce huge news like this, they tend to do it in formal press releases and filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, with a whole bunch of important details, like where that money is actually coming from, and not just like “thinkin’ about some stuff. Don’t worry I’m good for the money. It’s me, baby, Elon! You know I’m good for it!”

(Which isn’t to say he isn’t good for it, mind you, just that there’s a way to do these things, and we have that methodology because capitalism is a grotesque and barbaric system to begin with and our forefathers were a hell of a lot better at trying to mitigate it somewhat.)

But if he isn’t actually good for the money, and the financing isn’t secured? After all, he didn’t say where the money was coming from, just that it exists. Well then Elon could be in a hell of a lot of trouble, a former SEC chairman told CNBC:

Elon Musk could face civil and criminal penalties if found he didn’t secure financing at the time of his tweet about taking Tesla private, former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt told CNBC on Wednesday.

“If you make a false statement in connection with the trading of securities, you run the risk of both having to pay for the damages you caused and also you run the risk of a criminal prosecution,” Pitt, now CEO of consulting firm Kalorama Partners, told “Squawk Box.”


We noted yesterday that under SEC rules, companies can announce certain material things on Twitter. But usually not this sort of thing.

2nd Gear: Tesla Stands To Lose An Extremely Convenient Excuse

Don’t like Tesla for literally whatever reason? Occasionally report on some of its misdeeds in the pursuit of trying to build a major car and infrastructure company from scratch? Then you MUST be a short seller (and I’ll try to explain what a “short seller” is in the simplest way possible. Basically, if buying a share of Tesla is a bet that the company will succeed, “short selling,” or a “short” position, or “shorting” the company is a bet it will fail. Here’s an explanation that’s more in-depth if you’re curious). At least, according to Elon, who has even gone so far as to accuse a reporter of insider trading with people who hold short positions:


Anyway, the guy talks about it a lot. Which isn’t to say Tesla isn’t the most shorted company – it is! And short sellers do want Tesla to fail, because that’s how they make money. But there are a ton of reasons to be skeptical about Tesla, from its manufacturing difficulties to unanswered questions about its potential need for funds to its jerk of a CEO, without taking a financial position in the company’s future.

(Full Disclosure: I don’t have any financial position whatsoever in Tesla. Are you crazy? I gotta write about this company for a living. My terrible opinions are borne only from my own dumb brain, free of financial influence. That being said, Jalopnik as a whole has consistently said we want Tesla to succeed, for a variety of reasons.)


But if Tesla is taken private, what will happen to the short selling Takes?

Pray not for the short sellers, pray for those who accuse others of being short sellers.


3rd Gear: Not Tesla, But Tariffs!

Yes, it’s everyone favorite not-Tesla story lately, TARIFFS! Magna International is a huge Canadian auto parts supplier, with bits made by Magna in Fords and Teslas and Chryslers and BMWs and Toyotas and pretty much everything in between. But because all-out trade war is the new pointless thing in political vogue for the Trump administration, Magna will now suffer, Reuters reports:

Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc lowered its full-year production forecast for North America, hurt in part by tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

The company, which reported second-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates on tepid demand in North America, its biggest market, said it expects light vehicle production in the region to be 17.2 million, down from its previous forecast of 17.3 million.

The Trump administration has come under heavy criticism from automakers, foreign governments and others as it considers tariffs of up to 25 percent on U.S. imports of autos and car parts.


For the longest time, politicians tended to govern conservatively when it came to trade. I don’t mean in the “conservative or progressive” sense, but in the sense that they tended to move with caution. Companies crave stability more than anything. Tight regulations, loose regulations, for the most part they really don’t care, as long as nobody rocks the boat too much. Can’t plan for the long term if the future looks unstable, after all.

But now the boat isn’t just being rocked, there’s a guy who looks like he’s trying to capsize the whole thing. The automotive industry is already taking a hit.


4th Gear: Where The Hell Are All The Rangers?

While Tesla and tariffs are pretty much all we talk about in the Morning Shift these days, let’s bring back an old star for a very special guest appearance – Takata airbags. In case you’ve forgotten, the Takata corporation made a bunch of airbags that could spew shrapnel and kill you. Completely eradicating the potentially deadly airbags has been a sort-of priority for every automaker that originally installed them, and while that’s mostly been predicated on people bringing their affected cars into dealerships on a voluntary basis, Ford is going the extra mile to make sure the airbags are completely gone.


That means that it’s even trying to track down every Ford Ranger with a bad airbag still in it, Automotive News says:

Ford Motor Co. is offering its U.S. dealers $1,000 for every 2006 Ranger covered by a “do not drive” warning that they find and fix, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The affected vehicles were built with potentially defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators. Ford in February expanded the “do not drive” warning to include 36,330 of the pickups, although the number was later revised to 33,320.

Ford spokeswoman Elizabeth Weigandt said the automaker has accounted for or repaired about 75 percent of the recalled Rangers and decided to take “additional, unprecedented measures” by offering dealers incentives to find the remaining trucks. Ford told retailers they can earn $1,000 for each Ranger they locate and repair.


Good on Ford.

5th Gear: Wait, There’s More Ford

Ford is planning on building a super-basic SUV, Reuters says, which is an idea we can get behind:

Fleet said the new SUV, which will be available in gasoline, so-called mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, has been designed as an entry vehicle “for younger families in emerging cities” of China.

The Dearborn Michigan-based car maker needs a product such as the low-priced Territory because the company is “running a scale business” and needs to expand its market share and revenue base, he said.

Ford officials indicated late last month that an array of sport utility vehicles it plans to launch in China next year and in 2020 will give the company what one described as a “real boost” in China.

“In terms of pricing, the new SUV appears to be positioned in between its sub-compact SUV and compact SUV. Given the styling and its positioning, it should be able to generate some good volume,” said Yale Zhang, head of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight. “It should contribute to the company’s effort to turnaround sales.”


I imagine it to be a Suzuki Jimny competitor, and I want it now.

Reverse: We Don’t See What The Big Deal Is We Do This With Blogs All The Time


Neutral: What Car Would You Crush Personally?

And why is it the sixth-generation Chevrolet Monte Carlo?

Deputy Editor, Jalopnik. 2002 Lexus IS300 Sportcross.

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Teh Penguin of Doom

If he truly intended to take it private, he’d be talking the stock down, not talking it up.

He or his buddies have some shares to unload.