All that and more in The Morning Shift for June 21, 2021.
1st Gear: I Would Not Be Hunting For A Subaru Right Now
Two of the company’s plants in Japan’s Gunma prefecture will be idled, as Reuters reports, thanks to the global semiconductor chip shortage. Reuters doesn’t make this sound great for new car buyers:
The operations produce several key Subaru vehicles exported to the U.S., including the Forester, Crosstrek, BRZ and WRX. Subaru didn’t indicate how long the plants would be down. At the end of May, Subaru’s U.S. inventory was down to a mere nine days of supply.
2nd Gear: Ex-Tesla Exec Has Been Selling Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Worth Of Stocks
I guess you’re never really going to get a strong vote of confidence from somebody who bounces out of your company, but this doesn’t sound great. The exec in charge of some of Tesla’s biggest projects not only left Tesla, but has been selling off a whole lot of stocks. From Reuters:
Long-time Tesla Inc. executive and president Jerome Guillen, who left the company earlier in June, has sold an estimated $274 million worth of shares after exercising stock options since June 10, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The filing, which was submitted to the SEC on Tuesday, said that Guillen expected to sell 215,718 shares for $129 million that day, and that he offloaded 145,289 shares worth $89.6 million on June 14, and 90,111 shares worth $55 million on June 10.
Guillen, a former Mercedes engineer who was with Tesla since 2010, oversaw the company’s entire vehicles business before being named president of the Tesla Heavy Trucking unit in March. He left the company on June 3.
3rd Gear: Making EVs Or Making EVs Sustainably — There’s A Trade-Off
We’re in a new era of EVs that appeal not on their environmental benefits, but on their style, reputation, performance, and to some degree convenience. You don’t buy a Tesla because you think it’s going to save the environment. You buy it because it’s cool.
But a Tesla is only cool because it does have a bit of a green stamp of approval. What’s not so clear is if EVs will hold onto that reputation for sustainability forever, as a new report by the Wall Street Journal details:
The all-electric technology popularized by Tesla involves a kind of front-loading of environmental risk. EVs emit less carbon than a conventional car, even when recharged with electricity made by burning coal, but their powerful batteries require a lot of resources to make.
This inconvenient truth is one reason car makers are getting more involved in the EV supply chain. Investments such as the new battery factories announced by General Motors this week are mainly about securing greater control over the supply, technology and costs of the most important EV component. But a fourth factor fast rising up the priority list is control over their environmental footprint.
The WSJ goes on to detail how companies are looking into more environmentally-friendly batteries. With or without them, it’s clear that the hairshirt era of EVs is over.
4th Gear: Hyundai Finishes Buying Creepy Robot Dog Company
I will never really trust or be relaxed about anything relating to Boston Dynamics, so the less I say about this the better. SoftBank announced the sale’s completion on Monday. From Hyundai’s release:
Hyundai Motor Group (the Group), Boston Dynamics, Inc. and SoftBank Group Corp. (SoftBank), today announced the completion of the Group’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank, following the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The deal valued the mobile robot firm at $1.1 billion. Additional financial details were not disclosed.
Post-closing, the Group holds an 80 percent stake in Boston Dynamics and SoftBank, through one of its affiliates, retains the remaining 20 percent stake.
Boston Dynamics is the established leader in developing agile, mobile robots that have been successfully integrated into business operations of many of the world’s leading industrial firms. Advanced robotics offer opportunities for rapid growth with the potential to positively impact society by making work safer and more productive.
By acquiring Boston Dynamics and securing a leading presence in the field of robotics, the Group takes another major step toward its strategic transformation into a Smart Mobility Solution Provider. To propel this transformation, the Group has invested substantially in the development of future technologies, including autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI), Urban Air Mobility (UAM), smart factories and robots.
5th Gear: VW Will ‘Decide The Future’ Of Bugatti Soon
Bugatti might be going to Rimac as payment for some EV expertise, with a sale either coming or not coming, as Reuters reports:
Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) will soon decide on the future of its luxury brand Bugatti, Oliver Blume, Volkswagen management board member and CEO of Porsche AG, said on Monday.
Reverse: Privatization Of Space Seems Bad
June 21, 2004: SpaceShipOne Reaches Space
With self-taught civilian test pilot Mike Melvill at the controls, SpaceShipOne was released by its carrier craft and fired its hybrid rocket motors at an altitude of 47,000 feet over California’s Mojave Desert. As Melvill steered the ship outside the atmosphere, he spent about three minutes in weightlessness.
To help dramatize the moment, Melvill opened a bag of M&M’s and watched the candy float around the cockpit. “It was amazing,” he said later.
Neutral: How Are You?
I went to Formula Drift New Jersey over the weekend and it was a surreal joy to see and hear very good cars in public again. More on the event to come.