Harley is back! Sort of. Also, Volvo will “megacast” like Tesla, and the Ford E-Transit is here. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 8, 2022.
Jochen Zeitz became CEO of Harley-Davidson just as the pandemic was taking hold in early 2020, initiating a plan to withdraw from some markets while focusing on selling its biggest-ticket items, mainly the heavy and expensive motorcycles that are its bread-and-butter. That strategy seemed a little curious early on, given that Harley’s primary demographic is swiftly aging out. In the short-term, it is paying off, with Harley posting a surprise profit on Tuesday.
Adjusted profit of 15 cents a share marked a sharp turnaround from a loss in the same period last year and far outpaced Wall Street’s expectation of a 32-cent loss, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue from motorcycles and related products rose to $816 million, the Milwaukee-based company said in a statement Tuesday.
The results were “much better than expected,” Joe Altobello, an analyst with Raymond James, said in a note. Revenue from the motorcycle business was “up sharply on higher shipments and healthy retail.”
Donald Trump not being president also seems to have helped.
Revenue for the full year rose 32% to $5.3 billion on a more profitable mix of bikes and record income from its financing arm.
In October, the European Union agreed to end a 31% tariff on Harley motorcycles as part of a trade truce negotiated by the U.S. to repair relations following Trump-era spats over steel and aluminum imports.
In the long run, there are still a lot of questions for Harley, as its demographic problem isn’t going away, but for now Zeitz has given Harley shareholders what they want: good news.
The plant in Torslanda, Sweden, will eventually start “megacasting,” or using machines to create metal car bodies in one go, much like Tesla does with its “Giga Press.” Volvo talked to Automotive News about it:
Volvo’s head of engineering and operations, Javier Varela, said the change results in a 75 percent time savings compared with how large aluminum body parts are put together now.
“You avoid the stamping and welding processes and replace them with a megacasting process that is a one-shot injection followed by some tweaks after the injection,” Varela told ANE.
Volvo plans to have Torslanda ready for megacasting by 2025, which coincides with the production start for the first full-electric car at the plant, where Volvo currently makes the Volvo XC90 and XC60 SUVs and V90 station wagon.
[Volvo Solution Architect Vehicle Platform Mikael Fermer], who returned to Volvo in 2018 after nearly three years working at Apple as a senior product design engineer, said that using megacasting will let Volvo “sculpture the design tighter around the chassis, powertrain and interior.”
This should help improve range, he said, because it is possible to lower the seat, roofline and the complete cross section of the car at the same time.
Casting major parts of the floor structure of the car as one single aluminum part also boost range by reducing weight, Volvo said.
Varela said there are also sustainability benefits from moving to megacasting.
“All the aluminum that you are injecting is used,” he said. “You don’t have any scrap like you do with stamping.”
Tesla’s Giga Press actually comes from a “closely held” Italian supplier Idra, which has not said if it is working with Volvo specifically, but has said it has sold its tech to three automakers and is in talks with more.
It’s hard to take Tesla seriously on most things, just based on the sheer number of claims it makes, but, if Volvo is adopting one of its manufacturing processes, you can be pretty sure they landed on a winner.
Hyundai left the Japanese market in 2009, having been soundly defeated. But it said Tuesday that it was going back, with a plan centered on battery-electric and fuel-cell electric cars.
This all sounds very dumb but will probably work. Via Automotive News:
The automaker is betting that clean, green digital gadgetry will appeal to younger Japanese buyers who are also more open to trying South Korean imports, thanks to the local success of electronics brands such as Samsung and an affinity for hip Korean culture trends in some corners.
To leverage the new spirit, Hyundai is even rebranding its local subsidiary Hyundai Mobility Co., dumping the oh-so-20th century “Motor” in the name. At the forefront will be two of Hyundai’s most advanced offerings, the new Ioniq 5 electric crossover and the Nexo hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Hyundai will start taking orders in May, with deliveries starting in July.
Hyundai sold just more than 15,000 passenger vehicles in Japan over its first eight years. At the time, Volkswagen Group, the biggest selling import, was selling around 60,000 annually.
Hyundai’s retreat from Japan came only a year after archrival Toyota said it would launch its flagship Toyota brand in the Korean market.
Ford said Tuesday that it had begun deliveries of the E-Transit, one of the most exciting new EVs ever made.
From The Detroit News:
Shipments of the electric version of the popular van kicked off as Ford said it had netted more than 10,000 orders from 300 customers of varying sizes, including 1,100 orders from retail giant Walmart Inc. Already, the automaker said Tuesday, it’s working to increase production of E-Transit to meet demand as it aims to boost annual electric vehicle production capacity to 600,000 by the end of next year.
“E-Transit is a testament to the fact that an electric commercial fleet is no longer a vision of tomorrow, but a productivity-boosting modern reality,” Kumar Galhotra, president of the Americas & International Markets Group for Ford, said in a statement.
With the launch of E-Transit, Kansas City Assembly in Claycomo, Missouri, became Ford’s first plant in the U.S. to assemble both batteries and all-electric vehicles in-house. The company invested $100 million in the plant and added about 150 full-time jobs in vehicle and battery pack assembly to support E-Transit production.
Ford CEO Jim Farley is also very excited.
He should be; the E-Transit rules.
That would be Qualcomm, the California-based maker of semiconductors, among other things. This also apparently has implications for Ferrari’s F1 team that go beyond a new logo on the car.
The deal will involve both its road cars and its Formula One racing team and the first common projects, including the so-called digital cockpit, have been already identified, the Italian group said in a statement.
Ferrari’s new CEO Benedetto Vigna - a technology industry veteran - said in November Ferrari would seek technology partnerships as it moves ahead with transition toward cleaner mobility and in order to pivot technologies that require high investments. read more
“Innovation requires market leaders working together. Thanks to this agreement ... we expand our knowledge in digital technologies and web 3.0, areas with great potential for automotive and motorsport,” Vigna said in the statement.
I have endeavored to learn what “web 3.0" is in recent months as the term has gained more usage, but, like blockchain, I fear it is one of those things I simply will never understand.
Nicholson later expressed regret about the incident in an interview with Us Magazine, calling it “a shameful incident in my life.” He explained that a close friend had recently died, and that he had also been under a good deal of stress during the shooting of his most recent movie, The Crossing Guard. In that film, directed by Sean Penn, Nicholson played Freddie Gale, a man who vows to wreak vengeance on the drunk driver who killed his daughter. According to Nicholson, he went “out of my mind” after being cut off and snatched one of his golf clubs from the trunk of his car. Though press reports of the incident variously reported that the club in question had been a three- or a five-iron, Nicholson (who started golfing seriously after learning the game for the filming of 1990’s The Two Jakes) cleared up the issue in a 2007 interview with Golf Digest. “I was on my way to the course, and in the midst of this madness I somehow knew what I was doing,” he says, “because I reached into my trunk and specifically selected a club I never used on the course: my two-iron.”
I had no idea there was such curiosity about which specific golf club Nicholson used. Jack should hit the range and work on his 2-iron, though; it’s a useful club off the tee.
The clerk at the liquor store now not only sells me vodka in a timely manner but also provides updates on the next day’s weather. He’s an invaluable community resource.