Photo: AP

Musk claps back at the haters and losers, Moody’s dings Nissan’s credit rating, a very expensive Olympic taxi, and BMW releases a scooter because why the hell not. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Friday, May 24, 2019.

1st Gear: Musk Sends Out Email Bragging About 900 Model 3's Produced Per Day This Week, Take That Losers

It’s been a very bad no good week for Tesla, with Musk calling for financial micromanagement, Tesla’s stock tumbling, and formerly bullish analysts changing their tune.

In a very transparent attempt to reverse this downward cycle, Musk wrote an email verified by Reuters that the company produced an average of 900 Model 3's per day this week, which summarily got posted all over the goddamn place for everyone to read.

Reuters quoted a legal expert who said forgoing the traditional press release may have been to circumvent the terms of his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission; a public communication would have had to be vetted, but a “leaked” email wouldn’t.

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Either way, the stats in the email don’t exactly reverse any of the worrying trends investors were flagging earlier in the week, such as a sharp drop in sales, concerns about demand, and a U.S. trade war with the world’s largest EV market.

The leak may have boosted the company’s stock ever so slightly, but it’s still well below previous months and is a transparent move from Musk’s playbook. Nord LB analyist Frank Schwope told Reuters:

“It’s the usual Elon Musk scheme: spread positive mood with good news. Elon is a marketing man, but the Tesla reality is sobering.”

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Musk? Sobering. Those two words don’t go together.

2nd Gear: Moody’s Cuts Nissan’s Credit Rating Amid U.S. Sales Slump

Credit ratings from Moody’s and S&P are one of those things that sound really important but are also mostly made up. At least that’s what I’ve learned from reading everything Michael Lewis has written in the last decade. Anyways, Moody’s has cut Nissan’s credit rating due to slumping U.S. sales, among other reasons.

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Again from Reuters:

Moody’s cut its rating of Nissan’s credit to “A3” from “A2”, adding that the outlook was negative.

“The downgrade reflects the continuing slide in Nissan’s profitability, driven by weak sales in the U.S., its largest market,” Moody’s Vice President Motoki Yanase said in a statement.

While Nissan’s new strategy focuses on margin over unit sales growth and refreshing old models to improve its brand value, the ratings agency expects the overhaul will take “several years”.

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Basically, creditors don’t trust Nissan to turn things around in a timely fashion given that the guy they previously had charged with turning things around is in a Tokyo jail (or maybe he’s on bail, I can’t keep track anymore). Either way, not good.

3rd Gear: BMW Is Selling a $900 Scooter Because Mobility

I’m continually fascinated with how many Industry Experts and billion-dollar companies at least pretend to think the future involves lots of people zooming around on electric scooters. Of course, they may be part of a rich tapestry of options, but outside of a few outliers of cities like San Diego that seem specifically geared to e-scooter usage, it’s hard to imagine that many people relying on scooters for everyday needs.

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Maybe I’m wrong! BMW apparently thinks I’m wrong, because they just releases a $900 scooter. From Bloomberg:

In keeping with BMW targeting premium customers, the scooter costs more than double the price of comparable models. It weighs just 9 kilograms (20 pounds), the company said Thursday.

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Like most other e-scooters, it’s limited to 12 mph. The move comes after Germany legalized scooters earlier in the month, one of the first European nations to do so. Welcome to the party, freund.

4th Gear: The Michigan Central Station Walls Can Talk

Speaking of mobility, remember when Ford got a $104 million tax break from Detroit to take over and rebuild Michigan Central Station into a Work Hub that will house the company’s “mobility” team? The Detroit News got a peek at how construction is going a year later. It’s a fascinating look at how to renovate a century-old building that sat unused for decades. You should check out the whole thing, but an interesting tidbit is the workers keep finding bottles in the walls:

Workers have made some discoveries in the building since restoration work began. Tucked inside some of the walls were about a dozen whiskey, beer and Coca Cola bottles, likely consumed by builders. Some bottles were dated 1913, a year before the station opened to the public.

The artifacts will likely be put on display, said Ron Staley, executive director of Detroit-based Christman-Brinker, construction manager for the project.

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Whiskey and beer, eh? I wonder if they were drinking on the job. If they were, they built a damn fine building regardless. Good work is good work, amirite? **swigs from 100 year old beer I pulled from the City Hall subway stop**

5th Gear: Like Everything Else About the Olympics, Toyota’s New Taxi for Tokyo 2020 is Over Budget

In a previous life, I was a sports reporter. I covered the 2016 Rio Olympics. And I came away from that convinced the Olympics are an unjustifiable human disaster because it empowers authoritarian regimes and mass surveillance, bankrupts cities, exploits labor, displaces poor people, and promotes nationalism all so a small cadre of international elites can become even richer. All the feel-goodery and inspiring stories are mass marketing hullabaloo. There’s a whole book on it by a historian and everything.

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Anyways, Tokyo will be hosting the summer Olympics next year, and Toyota made a fancy new taxi cab for the city’s $25-plus billion party. It sounds like a nice taxi! But it’s an expensive taxi. Here’s Reuters on that:

It includes a wheelchair ramp, heated seats, smartphone chargers, an array of anti-collision sensors and even virus-killing air conditioning. But the liquefied petroleum gas-hybrid taxi doesn’t come cheap, selling for 3.5 million yen ($31,786.40) - almost a third more than the Crown model it replaces.

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Toyota says they’re losing money on each taxi but are doing it out of a sense of civic duty and whatnot. That’s nice, but remember politicians are going to say the same thing about why they think it’s good to spend more than twice as much as originally budgeted for a three-week party that is bad for the economy.

Reverse: The Fourth-Best Bridge in New York Opens

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Neutral: What is the car of the troops?

It’s Memorial Day this weekend, so let’s mix thinks up with today’s question: what is the Car of the Troops? And don’t say Jeep.