Polestar is on the attack, Jeep has a “trail-rated” scooter, and Audi. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 15, 2022.
There is a quiet confidence about Polestar, whose Polestar 2 is a potentially viable Tesla competitor. It is all, in any case, pretty much the polar opposite of Tesla, which, pointedly, doesn’t advertise. Polestar does, and made a bit of a splash with its Super Bowl ad this year. The ad made fun of both Tesla and Volkswagen, which sells the ID.4 here in the States. It was a welcome bit of swagger from a company that has preferred, up to now, to let the cars do the talking.
The ad was also, according to one consumer research group, among the large game’s most popular.
The 30-second ad by the electric-car maker performed roughly 23 times better than other commercials aired during the game, according to consumer search data firm EDO, with its message of “no epic voiceovers,” “no empty promises,” and “no hidden agendas” aiming squarely at the idea of conquering Mars as well as the Volkswagen Dieselgate.
Five of the top 20 Super Bowl commercials that were the most searched online during and after the event were EV-focused and were made by Polestar, Kia, Nissan, Chevrolet and BMW, EDO said, highlighting the rising popularity of battery-powered vehicles in the U.S. market.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is not mad, he’s laughing.
Tesla boss Elon Musk responded with a laugh emoji on Twitter, when one of his nearly 74 million followers pointed to the Polestar ad.
Here is the ad, if you missed it during the sizable game.
People in the U.K. are always desperate for news that the car industry there is coming back, or at least surviving, because of the U.K.’s rich history in carmaking. While Polestar is not a British company, it is, according to the Financial Times, expanding a facility there in the Midlands.
The luxury car maker’s existing Midlands facility at Nuneaton, which employs 280 staff, has already developed the production platform for the Polestar 5, the brand’s first model that uses its own proprietary technology, the company announced on Tuesday.
The Gothenburg-based group chose the UK for its new centre because of its mix of Formula 1 engineers and technicians from high performance brands such as Aston Martin, Lotus and McLaren, the company’s UK chief executive Jonathan Goodman said.
The investment, expected to be in the high tens of millions, is a further boon for the UK, which like other nations has been trying to attract electric groups and investment as it prepares to switch to battery-powered cars over the next two decades.
Rimac Automobili, the Croatian hypercar developer backed by Porsche, last year opened a UK research centre.
“Our UK R&D team is one of Polestar’s greatest assets,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar chief executive. “Their mix of engineering and technological expertise enables us to develop advanced, lightweight sports car technology with a creative mindset and a spirit that embraces innovative engineering.”
The gifts were revealed in new filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to The Wall Street Journal. It was probably part of a tax dodge:
The filing doesn’t name recipients for the 5,044,000 Tesla shares that Mr. Musk reported donating over the course of more than a week in November. Mr. Musk, Tesla’s chief executive and the world’s wealthiest person, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The donations were made in the middle of a series of stock sales by Mr. Musk, who sold more than $16 billion worth of Tesla shares in the past two months of 2021. The Tesla chief executive, who is compensated in stock awards and doesn’t accept a cash salary from the electric-vehicle maker, also converted roughly 22.9 million vested stock options into shares last year.
Such activity likely triggered a hefty 2021 tax bill that charitable giving could help offset. Donations of appreciated stock are particularly attractive for wealthy people. The forgone capital gains aren’t taxed. The value of the stock is a charitable deduction, subject to limits. And the stock comes out of the person’s taxable estate.
Bloomberg pointed to a tweet from October when Elon talked about spending $6 billion for world hunger. Bloomberg also says that Elon has his own foundation, called The Musk Foundation. It is completely normal, like everything in Elon’s world.
Musk has an eponymous foundation that’s become more active over recent years, with large, eight-figure gifts promised to the city near his South Texas spaceport, a $100 million competition for carbon removal and a $5 million contribution to two scientists researching Covid-19. Before then, his foundation’s largest contributions were to donor-advised funds, or DAFs, where charitable money can sit in perpetuity.
The Musk Foundation, which used to count Musk’s brother Kimbal as a director, has recently added a new face to its roster. Several grant recipients Bloomberg News spoke with have said their primary point of contact at the foundation is Igor Kurganov, a professional poker player-turned-philanthropist who is active in the effective altruism space.
It is partnering with the Chinese-state-owned company FAW. The plant will make EVs, according to Reuters, one of them being the E-Tron.
The planning regulator of China’s northeastern province of Jilin said work on the factory, which will be based in the provincial capital of Changchun city, is planned to start in April and that the companies will invest a total of 20.93 billion yuan ($3.29 billion) in the plant.
The plant will start production in December 2024 and have the capacity to manufacture 150,000 cars a year, according to the regulator. Its statement also showed the approval was given on Feb. 11, and that the venture plans to produce three electric models, including Audi’s e-tron SUV.
“The Audi FAW NEV project is an important cornerstone of Audi’s electrification strategy in China,” a VW Group spokesperson said, confirming the approval.
“We are consequently pushing forward the relevant works in this project. The construction of the plant is planned to start in the second quarter of 2022.”
China, of course, is the world’s biggest car market both in general and for EVs specifically, and it has shown no signs of slowing down.
It is part of a partnership with Razor, which makes scooters, which sometimes make people mad. I don’t know exactly what “trail-rated” means in this context, but, given that it is arbitrary marketing, that doesn’t matter.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Kim Adams House, head of licensing and merchandising for Stellantis, said in a news release that the scooter is a “natural extension for the Jeep brand’s licensing portfolio. ... With its rugged Jeep brand style-and-feel attributes, the Jeep RX200 is made for adventure, capturing the spirit of the brand’s core DNA to go anywhere and do anything.”
That’s highlighted by the fact that the scooter includes “Trail Rated” logo, which Jeep off-roading fans may appreciate.
The Jeep RX200 electric scooter, which comes in Army Green, can manage up to 12 miles per hour with a 200-watt motor that’s powered by a 24-volt rechargeable battery system, the release said. It promises up to 40 minutes on a charge and is recommended for ages 18 and older.
The “8-inch, air-filled, pneumatic tires” help riders “traverse the rough, off-road terrain,” the release said.
The scooter costs either $399.99 or $499.99, apparently depending if you buy it on Razor’s website or if you buy it on Jeep’s. Spend your money how you want, folks.
I watched this race live and still remember it quite well. Also, sadly, three years later.
I am eating dinner tonight with a guy from Volvo, and I realized I have no idea what the mask rules are in New York City, given that the state of New York recently lifted its mask mandate in some places, but not everywhere, and the city has its own rules. So does the federal government, when it comes to the subway. Wake me up when this all ends.