Elon Musk Just Sold Billions in Tesla Stock

The Tesla CEO sold off nearly 8 million shares of the EV maker's stock

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled Elon Musk Just Sold Billions in Tesla Stock
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris (Getty Images)

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is shedding billions of dollars worth of stock in the company, United Airlines is moving into the flying taxi business for some reason, and Honda’s profits took a pretty gnarly hit in the second quarter of 2022. All that industry goodness and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, August 10, 2022.

1st Gear: Musk’s Selloff Continues

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sold 7.92 million shares of the company. It’s worth about $6.88 billion. SEC filings reveal the transactions occurred between August 5th and August 9th, following Tesla’s 2022 annual shareholder meeting on the 4th.

Advertisement

This comes after a statement he made on Twitter on April 28th saying he wasn’t planning on selling any more stock. In April, Musk sold about $8.4 billion in shares.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of Musk’s messy acquisition of Twitter. From CNBC:

The centi-billionaire is in the midst of a contentious legal battle with Twitter, the social networking giant he agreed to acquire in April for about $44 billion or $54.20 per share.

Amid an overall market decline, Twitter’s share price and the price of Tesla shares dropped after that.

By July 8, Musk told Twitter he was terminating the deal. He accused Twitter of failing to give him all the information he needed to go ahead with the acquisition, and of understating the number of bots, spam and fake accounts on its platform.

Twitter has sued to ensure the Musk deal goes through for the promised price, which would represent a windfall for many of its shareholders.

Advertisement

Musk says he is now done selling stock, according to his Twitter account.

Advertisement

We’ll see if that remains the case. With Musk, it’s really anyone’s guess.

2nd Gear: United’s Flying Taxis

United Airlines has put down a $10 million deposit for 100 electric “flying taxis.” Last year, the company invested in Archer Aviation and struck a preliminary deal to buy up to 200 flying taxis that the San Francisco Bay Area-based company is working on.

Advertisement

These flying taxis haven’t yet been approved by regulators to fly with passengers aboard, so I guess we should take everything with a grain of salt. From the Wall Street Journal:

The aircraft being developed by Archer and its rivals take off and land vertically like helicopters. Airlines hope that they will be able to zip customers around cities, whisking them over congested highways to and from hub airports while reducing carbon emissions for such journeys.

United and Archer said United will be the launch customer for the four-passenger aircraft Archer is working on—the latest indication that traditional airlines see a place for the new technology in their businesses as they face pressure to find ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Electric-flying-taxi companies have been developing and testing vehicles, but need to secure approval from regulators before they or customers that purchase the aircraft launch commercial service. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has been examining aircraft, working on pilot requirements and looking into how to integrate planned vehicles into the airspace.

Advertisement

I don’t know, man. I guess this is cool. You know what would be really cool, though? A comprehensive high-speed rail system. A boy can dream.

3rd Gear: Honda’s Glass Half-Full Approach

Honda isn’t concerned with recession talks or tighter EV credits right now. The company is said to be laser focused on getting cars to U.S. customers.

Advertisement

The company also is looking to get EVs over here as well, as it has zero on sale right now. Honda said in April it will invest nearly $37 billion over the next 10 years in electrification. Its goal is to build 800,000 EVs in North America by 2030.

The company’s CFO, Kohei Takenuchi, spoke more about Honda’s financial standing. From Automotive News:

Takeuchi’s assessment came as Honda Motor Co. reported financial results for the fiscal first quarter ended June 30. Hammered by lost production and slumping sales, Honda said operating profit dropped 8.6 percent to 222.2 billion yen ($1.63 billion) in the period.

The ongoing semiconductor shortage as well as pandemic-related lockdowns in China undercut production. Meanwhile, higher costs for raw materials eroded earnings.

...

The Japanese yen’s dramatic weakening against the U.S. dollar and other currencies added 64.2 billion yen ($470.8 million) to the bottom line in the April to June period.

Net income fell 33 percent to 149.2 billion yen ($1.09 billion), quarter over quarter.

Worldwide sales slumped 18.3 percent to 815,000 vehicles in the quarter. Shipments to North America fell 23 percent to 267,000 vehicles, as European volume fell 18 percent to 23,000 units.

Advertisement

The good news for Honda is the company says production is already rebounding and has raised its profit outlook for the current fiscal year.

4th Gear: This EV Subscription Company is Going Big

Autonomy, a California-based startup that’s meant to offer drivers the option to buy a subscription to an EV rather than the car itself, is making some massive purchases.

Advertisement

The company is said to have placed orders for 23,000 electric vehicles with 17 different automakers. It’s being done in an effort to expand the company far beyond its current fleet of Teslas. The new fleet order is valued at $1.2 billion.

Here’s how some of the biggest orders stacked up:

  • GM: Order for 3,400 EVs valued at $138 million.
  • Ford: Order for 1,800 EVs valued at $88 million.
  • Volkswagen: Order for 2,200 EVs worth $107 million.
  • Hyundai: Order for 1,640 EVs worth $74 million.
  • Kia: Order for 1,500 EVs worth $69 million.
  • Rivian: Order for 1,000 EVs worth $72 million.

The company also plans to order from Stellantis in the future. From the Detroit Free Press:

Autonomy launched in January, choosing Tesla because of Tesla’s EV sales leadership at the time, said Scott Painter, CEO of Autonomy.

But now, “with every automaker going all-in on electric and so many exciting new products coming to market in the next six to 18 months, we have placed our fleet order and are excited to expand our subscription lineup,” Painter said.

The 23,000-car order represents 1.2% of the projected U.S. EV production through the end of 2023. Painter said the order was designed to fit into the forecast productions of each automaker. GM, for example, has said it plans to manufacture 1 million EVs in North America by 2025.

Advertisement

Right now Autonomy is only available in California, and it has 1,000 Teslas in its fleet. The minimum subscription time is three months, and after that a customer can return the vehcile at any time with a 30-day notice or continue the subscription on a monthly basis.

For a Tesla Model 3, the subscription costs can vary, but Toprak said for $4,900 down, which is not refundable, a person can drive a Model 3 for $490 a month. Or a person could put $990 down and have a payment of $900 a month. It can be paid in full each month on a credit card or from a bank account. The Autonomy vehicles are available for delivery or pickup within weeks, compared with the monthslong waits to buy or lease a vehicle, he said.

Advertisement

I don’t know about this, but hey, if it works for you, go with God.

5th Gear: GM’s Got Some Big Hopes

General Motors is pushing its development of electric vehicles into overdrive to get them to the market faster. Now, the company says scaling production to improve EV profits is the next move. From Automotive News:

“A vehicle is coming to market much, much sooner than it otherwise would. That’s a good thing,” CFO Paul Jacobson said Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York. “Unfortunately, the production isn’t there because we are ramping up the supply chain and ramping up the tooling and ramping up the scale as we are producing. So that’s why you’ve seen some of the lower volumes in the Hummer and the Lyriq.”

The automaker took steps to speed the development of big-ticket EVs, such as the GMC Hummer pickup and Cadillac Lyriq, to get them to market quickly. Scaling production of those vehicles will soon speed up as Ultium Cells, a battery cell joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution, opens its first plant this month.

An opening date for the plant in Warren, Ohio, has not yet been finalized. An Ultium plant in Tennessee is scheduled to open next year, and a plant in Michigan is expected to open in 2024. GM and Ultium have not yet announced the location for a fourth plant.

Advertisement

Right now, the only EVs that GM has on the market are the Hummer EV, Lyriq, and Chevy Bolt EV and EUV. The company is said to launch more EVs next year and has a goal of an all-electric lineup by 2035.

The production ramp-ups of the Hummer and Lyriq have reportedly been slower than traditional vehicles as GM transitions to the Ultium battery platform.

Advertisement

The company’s hopes are that profitability will improve as production scales up. Until then, internal combustion vehicles will fund GM’s EVs, according to Jacobson.

Reverse: The Pinto Gains Infamy

Advertisement

Neutral: I Should Start Packing

My lease is up at the end of this month, and I haven’t even begun to pack some of my shit away. I also don’t know where I’m going to move. It’s gonna be an interesting close to August for ol’ Andy, that’s for sure.