Kia And Apple Are Getting More Serious: Report

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Photo: Kia

Apple, the computer company, is still making noises about an electric car, Toyota thinks 2021 will be good, and Elon Musk. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 3, 2021.

1st Gear: Apple And Kia?

We got some wind of this last month, but a Kia and Apple tie-up appears to be getting more serious. As in, investors are starting to believe it.


From Bloomberg:

Kia Motors jumped as much as 14.5 percent after a local media report that Apple is planning to invest 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) as part of a collaboration with the automaker on making electric vehicles.

The iPhone maker plans to set up production with Kia and build Apple cars at the automaker’s plant in West Point, Ga., DongA Ilbo reported, without citing anyone.

The companies may sign a deal on Feb. 17 and aim to introduce Apple cars in 2024, according to the newspaper, which said they have an initial target to produce 100,000 autos a year.

A representative for the automaker in Seoul and an Apple representative in California declined to comment.


I am very much in an I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it mode with an Apple car, and I suspect most everyone else is, too. But Apple also has buckets of cash. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day that burned a hole through its pocket.

2nd Gear: Tesla CEO Elon Musk Has Difficulty With Regulation

We live in a society, one that isn’t quite unchecked capitalism, given that we have meat inspections, government drug approvals, and also a whole raft of regulations on how cars are made, among many other things. This sort of thing — “Big Government” according to the worst of you — is a good litmus test for potential friends: How much do they respect the state and their fellow citizens?


Elon Musk is a potential friend of mine. He has failed the test.

I will quote Bloomberg at some length because they have the goods:

In the past week alone, Musk has tangled with the Federal Aviation Administration over a December rocket test flight that ended in flames and begrudgingly agreed to recall some Tesla cars at highway-safety officials’ urging. And while he announced Tuesday he was taking a break from Twitter — the platform that previously got him fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission — Musk had already used his favorite social-media megaphone in the preceding days to roil stocks of companies from Etsy Inc. to Shopify Inc. during a retail-trading frenzy.

The potential for more conflict is building as Biden works to confirm his cabinet secretaries and reinvigorate agencies following the Donald Trump era. Democratic administrations have historically been tougher on industry regulation, and Musk’s empire intersects with government oversight of automobiles, spaceflight, energy, telecommunications and medical equipment.

In a series of comments on Tuesday, the FAA said that Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. had ignored the agency back on Dec. 9 to go ahead with a test launch of its massive Starship rocket — a test that ended in a blazing fireball when the prototype malfunctioned on landing. The FAA said it had turned down SpaceX ’s request to exceed the maximum public risk for that launch, and after the explosion had suspended testing at the site until a company-led investigation was complete and its regulators approved SpaceX’s corrective actions.

The FAA’s comments added some clarity to the dispute that led to an angry tweet from Musk on Jan. 28 in which he accused the agency of having a “fundamentally broken regulatory structure.” His ire against the FAA was triggered after another SpaceX test flight was delayed.

Without giving much detail, the FAA in a Tuesday morning email said that SpaceX was now in compliance and could proceed with another test. Within hours, the unmanned Starship SN-9 lifted off from SpaceX’s seaside launch pad at 2:25 p.m. Tuesday in Boca Chica, Texas, flew to an altitude of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) — and exploded as it attempted to land, like the earlier rocket.


The video of the latest crash is worth watching.

3rd Gear: Toyota Expects A Huge 2021

Toyota is ramping up production to record levels on the pretty safe bet that 2021 will be a better year for new car sales than 2020 was.


From Reuters:

Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp plans record high global production of 9.2 million vehicles this year, up about 2% from 2019’s pre-coronavirus output, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Friday.

The automaker has informed its main suppliers of the plan, which reflects sales momentum in China and demand recovery in North America and Japan, the Nikkei said, without citing sources.


Toyota is back on top, and they will want to hold on to that crown this year. Toyota also finally stopped supporting Trump. It’s never too late, I guess.

4th Gear: New Car Sales Down Big In Germany

I don’t have much to add to this except to say this pandemic really sucks!

From Reuters:

New passenger car registrations in Germany fell more than 30% in January to around 170,000 vehicles, an industry source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Car dealerships have been hit by a second lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic in Germany, with non-essential stores closed since mid-December, and by tax breaks for consumers running out at the end of 2020.


5th Gear: Yes Even Ferrari Will Eventually Go Electric

Ferrari has said that it will never make a fully-electric car for forever. Except now they might.


I hope it’s a front-wheel-drive crossover.

Reverse: Buddy Holly


Neutral: How Are You?

I remember when “beer caves” became a thing, and now we have weed dispensaries. [Abe Simpson voice] What a world.