Tesla has had its ups and downs navigating Germany, the 2022 Lexus NX has a price, and GM. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 7, 2021.
1st Gear: GM Really Wants You (Investors) To Know It’s All About EVs Now, And Revenue
GM (and Ford) have been doing a lot of “events” in recent months to tell investors that, really, they are technology companies now, not just old-school car manufacturers. This is because they are jealous of Tesla’s stock price, and, with it, Tesla’s massive valuation. It is also because GM and Ford really are electric vehicle companies now in large part, even if investors don’t value them like Tesla.
GM did another event this week, one that is explicitly for investors. At the event, GM said that it wanted to double revenue by 2030, largely through new digital (subscription) services. From Reuters:
GM said if it succeeds, annual revenue by 2030 would be about $280 billion, and the automaker would be the leader in U.S. electric vehicle sales. Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said GM expects pre-tax profit margins of 12 to 14%, which could beat current levels. That would imply annual pre-tax profits of as much as $39 billion.
GM projects its combustion vehicle business can grow even as annual electric vehicle revenues rise to $90 billion by 2030 from $10 billion projected in 2023, Jacobson told investors after markets closed. The company also plans to add $80 billion from new businesses such as the Cruise autonomous vehicle ride service by 2030.
Barra has been campaigning to convince investors that General Motors can top Tesla in technology development and profitability as the auto industry navigates the most profound technology revolution since the mass-produced Ford Model T. She and other GM executives began a two-day series of presentations to investors at the automaker’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.
They said GM can transform itself “from automaker to platform innovator” - a reference to Silicon Valley digital platform companies such as Apple Inc that have far higher stock valuations than GM and other incumbent auto manufacturers.
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GM’s stock is up all of three percent this morning; its market capitalization is a little over $80 billion. Tesla’s is that plus $700 billion. Long way to go.
2nd Gear: Tesla’s Culture Clash In Germany
Tesla is building a factory in Germany for the continental market and the UK, too, but it has repeatedly clashed with authorities and locals there, with their pesky regulations and concerns about things like “the environment.” Reuters reports that Tesla is taking on German unions, too.
Conversations between the union and applicants indicate Tesla, whose CEO is known for his rocky relationship with organised labour, is offering pay 20% below the collectively bargained wages offered at other German automakers, [union IG Metall] said.
It is also shaking up conventional German contracts by offering packages with stock options and bonuses rather than predetermined holiday pay.
Of the 12,000 positions to be created at the factory, 800-1,200 have been filled so far, according to IG Metall and Steinbach.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment or questions on how recruitment was progressing. But data from LinkedIn suggest applications are low, with fewer than 10 applicants for most of the factory positions advertised in the past month.
Gruenheide is a 45-minute drive from the Polish border, and Tesla is widely expected to recruit workers from there.
“20% under German wages is still very good pay for Polish workers,” Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, an expert on the German auto industry, said.
Given the option, companies will always pay workers as little as possible. This is the only truth.
3rd Gear: The New Lexus NX Will Start At $37,950
The second-generation NX was revealed earlier this year; that is Lexus’s second-smallest SUV/crossover thing, bigger than the UX, which is probably the one you should get, if you are in the market for a new Lexus SUV/crossover thing. Anyway, Lexus said Thursday that the 2022 NX will start at $37,950. Pricing will be as follows:
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for each all-new NX are:
- $37,950 for NX 250 FWD
- $39,550 for NX 250 AWD
- $41,550 for NX 350
- $41,050 for NX 350h
- $55,560 for NX 450h+
All prices listed are exclusive of $1,075 delivery, processing and handling fee.
The all-new 2022 NX lineup is expected in showrooms as early as December 2021 with production beginning at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada in early 2022.
Fuel economy will be between 25 mpg and 28 mpg combined, depending on which one you get, though for buyers and lessees in this segment that will not be much of a concern. These are people choosing between an NX, a BMW X3, a Mercedes GLC-Class, or an Audi Q5. Hell, maybe even an Infiniti QX50, too.
4th Gear: Battery Manufacturing In South Korea Is A Bit Fraught
South Korea makes nearly half of all the world’s rechargeable batteries, many of them, of course, destined for electric vehicles. Because of regional tensions and supply chain issues, though, automakers and other stakeholders are wondering how reliable that battery supply really is, according to the Financial Times.
South Korea has suffered several embargoes, with Japan imposing export controls on semiconductor components in 2019 and China punishing Seoul in 2016 for hosting a US missile shield with bans on Chinese tourist groups to the country and boycotts on products such as Hyundai cars.
“Companies are mulling which is the better option,” said Lee Hang-koo, an adviser at Korea Automotive Technology Institute. “Importing materials could be cheaper in terms of cost, but they are trying to increase domestic supply, given the increasing global supply chain risks.”
South Korean manufacturers led by LG Energy Solution, SK Innovation and Samsung SDI have increased their share of the $46bn market for rechargeable batteries from about 35 per cent in 2018 to 44 per cent in 2020, according to data from SNE Research and B3 Intelligence.
But Korean manufacturers relied on imports for more than 60 per cent of critical battery materials, such as cathodes, anodes, separators and electrolytes, said Kim Kyung-man, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic party, citing commerce ministry data.
This posed risks for the industry, putting it at the mercy of trade tensions and already strained supply chains amid surging demand for electric vehicle batteries, said Kim.
“Our country is a battery powerhouse. But we fear it could become a profitless intermediary due to its heavy dependence on imports,” Kim added, urging “large-scale support” in taxation, financing and research to boost domestic production of battery components and reduce reliance on imports.
This is the sort of supply chain issue that, before the chip shortage happened, probably no one would really care about, but we’re in pre-post-chip shortage world.
5th Gear: Jeep Cherokee Production Done For October
This is because of the chip shortage, but also demand for the Jeep Cherokee has been (surprisingly?) down. From Automotive News:
The Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois that builds the Jeep Cherokee will be down for the rest of the month because of the ongoing chip shortage, a Stellantis spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The plant has had significant downtime this year and cut its second shift. The site employs 2,362 hourly workers.
The Belvidere plant, even before the chip shortage, grappled with downtime as the automaker sought to match Cherokee production with demand. Cherokee sales fell 20 percent through September.
Stellantis has made somewhat of a habit of keeping generations of cars around for longer than others, and the Cherokee is no exception. The current Cherokee is the fifth-generation, first unveiled in 2013. It could probably use an update.
Neutral: How Are You?
For as long as I’ve been in New York — since 2007 — it has been overstuffed with people, though the pandemic changed all that, of course. Now, it feels a little abandoned, especially Midtown, where are our offices are. That is just perfect for New Yorkers — it probably has never been a better time to be a New Yorker in New York — though that is also good for visitors, too. What I’m saying is: Come on down.