Subaru Is Having A Time

Sales: dropped. Profit: tumbled. Sales outlook: fallen.

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Subaru cars are parked on a dock ahead of shipping on December 16, 2021 in Kawasaki, Japan.
Subaru cars are parked on a dock ahead of shipping on December 16, 2021 in Kawasaki, Japan.
Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images (Getty Images)

Subaru announced its third-quarter financial results and it looks like the chip crisis has kicked its ass. Profits are down by 66 percent, output by 20 percent, and sales by 35. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 7, 2022.

1st Gear: Things Could Be Better For Subaru

In contrast to companies like Toyota, the chip crisis is not treating little Subaru all that kindly, as Automotive News reports. Profits, sales, and sales outlook are way down in the third quarter, per AN:

Subaru Corp.’s operating profit dropped 66 percent to 22.7 billion yen ($197.2 million) in the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, the automaker said in a statement on Monday.

Subaru said it was hit by rising raw material costs in addition to slumping volume due to the ongoing global microchip shortage. Subaru’s worldwide output fell 20 percent to 207,000 units in the October-December period, for a 11 percent production slide in the first three quarters.

Worldwide sales tumbled 35 percent to 173,000 in the latest three-month period.

Subaru again downgraded its sales outlook, for the third time this year. It now expects to sell 740,000 vehicles in the full fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.


Nothing a new BRZ STI wouldn’t turn around, am I right Subaru fans?

2nd Gear: Tesla Sales Are Shooting Up In Japan

Tesla sales have more than doubled year-over-year in Japan, which is enough to garner some news coverage. The actual number of cars in question here is rather minuscule, going from “about 1,900 in 2020" to “more than 5,200 cars,” as Bloomberg reports. Still, this is an interesting article noting that EV sales are pretty slim in Japan, while Tesla seems to be carving a space for itself as, well, just an interesting imported luxury car, EV or not:

Tatsuya Arai, a 36-year-old entrepreneur in Tokyo, never saw the appeal of owning a car until he watched a YouTube video featuring a Tesla Inc. The Model 3, with its sleek exterior and innovative dash, looked like a neat solution considering he was moving from the city’s bustling Shibuya district to a quieter waterfront area and needed a way to get around.

“It was like buying a gadget,” he said.

Arai joined a small but growing number of electric vehicle owners in Japan. While EVs account for only 1% of overall car sales, well behind China and parts of Europe, they’re finally starting to catch on. In 2021, new registrations of imported EVs nearly tripled to 8,610, a small but remarkable shift in a country where overall automobile sales have stalled.

With its high per-capita income and enthusiasm for high-end European cars such as Mercedes-Benz, Japan initially looked like a natural fit to Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk, who predicted back in 2010 the Asian nation would be Tesla’s second-biggest market after the U.S.

Yet the country has remained wary of betting too heavily on full electric cars, even after Nissan Motor Co. blazed the trail for affordable EVs with its Leaf over a decade ago.


This all tracks with my on-the-ground experience driving EVs around America over the past few months. We’re not still in the “early adopter” phase that defined the shitty pre-Tesla EVs, but we’re not exactly out of it either.

3rd Gear: Those Climate Pledges Are Bullshit

The whole Dieselgate saga broke because a team of researchers were trying to prove how good VW engineering was that its diesels could pass all modern regulations. What they found was that VW simply ... wasn’t.


There are some echoes of that story here, in a BBC report on top companies absolutely failing to meet their climate pledges:

Many of the world’s biggest companies are failing to meet their own targets on tackling climate change, according to a study of 25 corporations.They also routinely exaggerate or misreport their progress, the New Climate Institute report says.Google, Amazon, Ikea, Apple and Nestle are among those failing to change quickly enough, the study alleges.[...]Study author Thomas Day told BBC News his team originally wanted to discover good practices in the corporate world, but they were “frankly surprised and disappointed at the overall integrity of the companies’ claims”.


Companies don’t move until it is in their financial interest to do so. Until we start hitting these companies with outright bans, executive arrests, and punitive fines, we’re getting nowhere.

4th Gear: On-Demand Bus Programs Are Having A Time In America

Public transit has a hard time in the States, as we get wrapped up in things like “does this program make money” as opposed to “is this service providing a social good?” No matter how you look at things, though, this is an entertaining article on what’s going on with a pilot on-demand bus service in Montpelier, Vermont. Basically, the city is paying to send empty “ghost buses” around town that get more inconvenient the more people use them. From Bloomberg:

The group’s website touts MyRide as “quick, direct and works with your schedule.”

But the service frequently doesn’t work for fixed route’s most loyal constituencies, senior citizens and disabled people, who are often relatively poor and technologically challenged. When I visited Montpelier’s Pioneer Apartments, a public housing complex, building manager Lorna Swann had nothing but disdain for MyRide. “We have physically disabled people here, and also mentally disabled,” Swann said, “and when you take away their routines, it’s very disturbing. They’re confused.”

Resident Judy Taplin, a 71-year-old retired Walmart clerk, told me that she doesn’t have a smartphone and added, “Once when I called MyRide to arrange a pickup, they told me, ‘We have 72 other riders ahead of you. You’ll have to wait.’ I refuse to go through that crap again. Now I just walk to the grocery store.”

Citywide, MyRide is attracting about 2,700 riders a month — about half the pre-pandemic average for the fixed routes it replaced.


I don’t know how compatible this kind of service is in the States, but this program is an exciting one to watch.

5th Gear: Please Enjoy This Article About Philly Hiding Behind Equity To Not Make A Killer Road Safer

I saw this pop up on Twitter from my old boss (I guess he would be my old boss’ boss) Tim Marchman, a guy who once cooked chicken in a dishwasher for science. Here is the take:


Marchman’s not wrong here, and if you read the full article in the Philly Inquirer, you’ll find an interesting case study in how governments justify not doing the right thing (making streets safer):

City transportation officials said Saturday that narrowing the street to three traffic lanes is now “off the table” — even though planners deemed it the safest option, it had wide support, and the city in 2020 unveiled the plan as its final design.


Washington Avenue, last fully repaved nearly two decades ago, has five driving lanes, two parking lanes, and two marked but unprotected bike lanes. Drivers race up to red lights while navigating double-parked cars, delivery trucks and potholes. Cyclists are often forced out of the bike lane and into fast-moving traffic.

The decision was made, city officials said, after four meetings with registered community organizations (RCOs) and residents in Point Breeze and Gray’s Ferry; 16 meetings with businesses in various neighborhoods and several meetings of a “working group” that included safety advocates.

OTIS officials disclosed the new direction first in a meeting Saturday afternoon of the working group.

“This is a loss for everyone who uses Washington Avenue,” said Dena Driscoll, a South Philadelphia resident, cochair of the 5th Square advocacy group and member of the working group. “We can no longer trust this administration to uphold its own stated principles.”


Working to make streets less likely to kill people, less likely to put the most at-risk people in harm’s way (like kids crossing the street to get to school, or sending bike riders directly into traffic) is the no-brainer kind of thing that cities love to complicate.

Reverse: What Bottom Does An Ocean Have, If You Die Before You Reach It?


Neutral: How Are You?

Today the weather report is calling for “freezing rain,” so I will be inside with a particularly tedious, difficult, and pointless bike project that will involve either drain cleaner or oven cleaner, as well as a lot of sandpaper. I couldn’t be happier.