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It’s All Catching Up To Harley-Davidson

Illustration for article titled It’s All Catching Up To Harley-Davidson
Photo: AP (AP)
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Harley-Davidson is losing money earlier than expected, Land Rover gets France’s seconds, Nissan continues to lose big, and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, July 28, 2020.

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1st Gear: Harley Hits First Quarterly Loss In More Than A Decade

With its retail sales plummeting by 27 percent last year alone, the writing has been on the wall for Harley to start losing and start losing big pretty soon, as we’ve been reporting on for the last few years.

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And then COVID-19 happened and accelerated Harley’s plans—not for recovery, but for loss. Now the new CEO has to make it seem like there’s hope, via Reuters:

The Milwaukee-based company reported a loss of 60 cents per share for the quarter through June, compared with a profit of $1.23 per share a year ago. Analysts had on average expected the profit to come in at 4 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Motorcycles and related products revenue dived 53% year-on-year to $669 million, hurt by the temporary suspension of production during the quarter due to lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.

The company’s shares were trading down 4.9% at $27.85 in pre-market hours.

This is the first quarterly loss since 2009, as Bloomberg reports.

CEO Jochen Zeitz has a plan that involves cutting the lineup, scaling back production, redefining its global markets, not focusing on volume but rather profit, cutting up to 700 jobs and potentially saving up to $100 million.

Let’s just hope the country that built Harley can wear a mask long enough to give the motorcycles a chance.

2nd Gear: JLR Gets Ghosn Successor

Former Renault CEO Thierry Bollore was fired back in October, pretty much only because he was ousted company Chairman Carlos Ghosn’s hand-picked successor as CEO of the company, and that didn’t look good with Ghosn fleeing Japanese authorities and hiding in Lebanon.

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But while Renault may be able to find a CEO without potential problematic connections to an internationally-wanted criminal businessman, Jaguar Land Rover apparently can not.

From Auto News:

Jaguar Land Rover parent Tata Motors has named Thierry Bollore to be the next CEO of the U.K. luxury automaker.

Bollore, who was fired from his post as Renault CEO in October, will replace Ralf Speth as JLR boss starting Sept. 10, the company said in a stock exchange filing. Speth, 64, is scheduled to retire in September and will become non-executive vice-chairman of JLR.

“It will be my privilege to lead this fantastic company through what continues to be the most testing time of our generation,” Bollore said in the filing.

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Aston’s former Dr. Andy Palmer is right there, guys. Don’t you want a mid-engine F-Type?

3rd Gear: Nissan Exceeds Expectations With $4.5 Billion Loss Projection

Speaking of that Renault-Nissan alliance still reeling in the wake of Carlos Ghosn, Nissan is doing really bad, and it’s on track to post its second consecutive massive annual loss, this time far exceeding expectations.

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From Auto News:

The automaker forecasts an operating loss of 470 billion yen ($4.5 billion), which would be its biggest, according to Nissan data that goes back to 1977, and much larger than a consensus estimate of a 262.8 billion yen loss drawn from 20 analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The company predicted revenue would plunge by a fifth to 7.8 trillion yen ($74.1 billion) and global vehicle sales would fall 16 percent.

Years of aggressive expansion, particularly in emerging markets, has left Japan’s No. 2 automaker with dismal margins, an aging portfolio and a tarnished brand.

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If you’re an automaker and you’re somehow losing more money now than back in the decade of the oil crisis, you probably should have changed something a long time ago.

4th Gear: Elon Musk Is A Hypocrite

Tesla CEO and noted billionaire Elon Musk has tweeted out repeatedly his disdain for government tax relief for U.S. citizens facing unemployment and strained finances amid a massive global virus outbreak unprecedented for my lifetime. Meanwhile, his company is taking those same tax handouts to keep paying its employees, despite posting one of its only quarterly profits recently and being owned by, well, a fucking billionaire.

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From Reuters:

Tesla Inc received payroll related benefits from the government in the first half of the year to help reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business, the electric carmaker said in a filing on Tuesday.

The company, whose Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has spoken against further government aid as Congress debates another round of stimulus, said that, along with cost cuts, the benefits had offset almost all of its costs due to the idling of factories in this year’s lockdowns.

Tesla’s only U.S. vehicle factory — in California, where most of its cars are currently produced — was shut down for some six weeks in the second quarter ended June after an initial standoff with local authorities.

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The guy who wants to give free internet to Africa with NASA money (a cool and good idea if it doesn’t destroy the night sky and actually works as advertised, and is not some super obvious fucked up capitalist scheme though it almost certainly is), doesn’t want to give taxpayers their money back when they lose their jobs because the government didn’t make people close their stores for a couple of months.

5th Gear: UK’s National Grid Maps Out Its Anticipated EV Demand On Infrastructure

A new report from National Grid, the UK’s electrical grid operator, suggests 30 million new EVs will be on the island nation’s roads in the next 20 years, and it thinks it’ll have the electrical grid to handle it. From Bloomberg:

Emissions from the power sector will be negative by 2033 as renewable generation and carbon capture and storage technology effectively sequesters more CO2 than plants emit, National Grid said. Levels of natural gas burnt without emissions-removing technology will halve by 2038.

[...]

The utility’s electric vehicle prediction is more than the amount forecast by BloombergNEF, whose analysts see 17 million EVs on the road in the U.K. in 2040. BNEF doesn’t assume the target of phasing out internal-combustion engines by 2035 is hit.

By 2050, as many as 80% of households with an EV will be smart charging their car when electricity market prices and power demand are lower, National Grid said in the report. About 45% of homes will be able to offer balancing capability to the grid, creating as much as 38 gigawatts of flexible electricity to help manage peaks and troughs in demand.

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Before you ever learned how to charge your electric car, your government will be teaching you how to smart charge your electric car so you don’t wipe out power for millions of people because you won’t ride the bus.

Reverse: Topical As Ever

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Neutral: What Has Renault Done That JLR Wants?

So you’re Jaguar Land Rover, and you don’t hire the guy that just reinvented Aston Martin for the 21st Century. It’s not his fault nobody wants British sports cars any more, he still made some of the best.

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Regardless, what do you expect Thierry Bollore to do with the keys now?

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DISCUSSION

On the H-D thing...I had to take a 16-hr road trip on a business earlier this month. I was overtaken by 3 separate convoys of H-D riders, all with Trump 2020 flags and blue-lives-matter flags, and some even with the confederate flags. H-D is suffering because not very many people want to be associated with that. And before you go ‘not ever H-D rider...,” if you’ve been to Laconia or Sturgis in the last several years, you’d be rather shocked to find out that there’d be any other types of H-D riders left. I know there are, but they must be a solid minority.