Jaguar isn’t in the best place, Nio isn’t either, and Honda, well, let’s be honest, also could be better. All this and more for The Morning Shift on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.
The moves are temporary, but reflect falling demand, because who really buys a Jaguar in this time of SUV mania. Wait. No. That’s not quite right. Jaguar does offer a number of crossovers for sale, but it’s easy to forget about them, in part because their names are awful. The E-Pace has an internal combustion engine. The I-Pace is electric. The F-Pace is not a sports car.
Also, Brexit hasn’t helped the company. I’m sure the British government will take plenty of lessons from this, and vow to do better going forward. I kid.
The firm will halt production on selected days over a four-week period from late February at its Castle Bromwich factory in central England and stop production on some half or full days at its nearby Solihull facility until the end of March.
“The external environment remains challenging for our industry and the company is taking decisive actions to achieve the necessary operational efficiencies to safeguard long-term success,” the company said in a statement.
The notable thing here is that this has nothing to do with coronavirus, which has disrupted international supply chains. No, this is all about not many people wanting to buy Jaguars. Sad.
The electric SUV maker is doing its best to get by, but falling demand in China and coronavirus have left it in dire straits.
The Chinese carmaker will sell $70 million of notes to one unidentified Asian investment fund through a private placement that should close around Feb. 10, according to a statement. NIO disclosed a similar transaction in January with another unaffiliated fund.
NIO’s U.S.-listed stock fell 7.1% on concerns the amount of money coming in from the sales won’t nearly be enough. Exorbitant spending on marketing and splashy showrooms hasn’t spurred enough demand for of NIO’s ES8 and ES6 electric sport utility vehicles. And now China’s auto market — already struggling with weaker demand and less-generous EV subsidies — is reeling from the coronavirus that has idled factories and stores.
That story ends on this bleak note:
Its deficit in the quarter that ended in September was $324.9 million. The company ended the period with 1.96 billion yuan ($274.3 million) in cash and equivalents and said it didn’t have enough money to continue operating another 12 months.
I rated Nio as 4.8 Hyperloops in my most recent guide to the car startups that matter, but that is now seeming wildly optimistic.
This time it is because of coronavirus, as aforementioned supply chains across East Asia get disrupted.
Here is Reuters:
The Japanese automaker, which operates 12 vehicle and component factories in China, said it would extend shutdowns “after considering various factors, including guidelines from local and region governments, parts supply, and logistics.
“For the week of Feb. 10, we will be preparing for the return to normal operation from Feb. 17 and beyond,” it said in a statement.
The decision extends Toyota’s initial plans to suspend operations through Sunday, and comes as the spreading coronavirus crisis further threatens the global auto industry.
For now, this doesn’t seem like anything that will affect everyday consumers, but it is for sure worth monitoring.
Truck driving is a job threatened hugely by autonomous vehicles, though it’s hard to see that happening any time in the next couple of decades. In the meantime, The New York Times reports, there is some new tech that’s supposed to help truck drivers stay alert.
New wearable technology monitors the drivers but in a more subtle way, and comes in a variety of forms including caps, vests, wristbands and eye wear.
Glasses made by Optalert measure the driver’s eye blinking with an LED light monitor. Eyelids that stay down too long might point to a sleepy driver. The real-time measurements are displayed on a dash-mounted device with alarms and notifications.
A headset made by Maven Machines detects if a driver is looking forward through the windshield, up, down or sideways, and measures mirror checks, which can decrease in frequency if a driver is getting tired. The headset detects head bobs and jerks, signs the driver is falling asleep.
This system also notices and can deliver notifications on “coachable” behaviors that can be improved, like hard braking, and delivers audible routing, weather and other messages as well.
The New York Times doesn’t go into how widely spread this tech is used, but I would guess for now it isn’t that much. Driver-assistance tech hasn’t exactly been a hit with truck drivers, and it’s an extra cost, and trucking companies aren’t necessarily putting safety for their drivers as a top priority.
You’d think that there might be some kind of union among truckers that could keep their hours good and their wages steady so that nobody was incentivized or pressured to drive tired in the first place but welcome to America, where tech will solve all of our problems from deregulation and union-busting.
This actually isn’t very exciting, sorry, the exclamation point is a typo. Profits were down slightly, but not because Honda is doing terribly or anything, mainly because of boring reasons like currency exchange rates.
Per Automotive News:
Operating profit slipped to 166.6 billion yen ($1.53 billion) in fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, Honda said Friday in its earnings report.
Net income fell 31 percent to 116.4 billion yen ($1.07 billion) in the three-month period, partly because the company was hit by higher income tax expenses in the U.S.
Revenue decreased 5.7 percent to 3.75 trillion yen ($34.4 billion), as worldwide sales retreated 11.4 percent to 1.25 million vehicles in the October-December quarter.
Despite the downturn in operating profit, Honda raised its full fiscal year profit outlook, citing a return to more favorable foreign exchange rates and better-than-expected sales in Japan.
As you were.
This news, coming also from Automotive News, matters to dozens, perhaps scores, maybe even hundreds.
DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s Joe Hinrichs, 53, will retire as president of automotive, and Jim Farley, 57, president of new business technology and strategy, will become COO, Ford said.
The changes are effective March 1. Farley will report to CEO Jim Hackett.
Ford said the changes are meant to “accelerate its transformation into a higher-growth, higher-margin business.”
On Wall Street, Ford shares fell 2.5 percent in early trading to $8.04.
“On Wall Street, Ford shares fell 2.5 percent in early trading to $8.04.”
The F-Type is still good but I sadly don’t have $70,000 lying around.