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Tesla released its third-quarter delivery numbers, Nikola’s deal with GM is still being negotiated and traffic deaths in the U.S. are down, but it’s a little complicated. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 2, 2020.


1st Gear: Tesla’s Third-Quarter Numbers Are Good

At some point, and it’s is getting ever closer, we’ll have to declare Tesla an actual, regular, ordinary automaker and not a startup anymore, on par with the Fords or GMs of this world. I do not look forward to this — I much prefer the drama of will-they-or-won’t-they, but this is 2020. Anything can happen. And it looks like Tesla is happening.

From Reuters:

Tesla Inc on Friday said it delivered 139,300 vehicles in the third quarter, a new quarterly record for the electric carmaker as it is ramping up production at its California and Shanghai factories and working to build two additional plants.

The company slightly beat Wall Street estimates for deliveries of 134,720 vehicles, driven by higher demand for its mass-produced Model 3 sedans.

Tesla delivered 124,100 units of its new Model Y sport utility vehicle and Model 3 vehicles in the period as U.S. production recovered after being suspended from the end of March to early May due to the COVID-19 lockdown. That was below expectations of 128,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles combined.

And so Tesla now has four consecutive profitable quarters in the bag and likely a fifth when it reveals its third-quarter earnings later this month. And all of this is happening amid a pandemic when new car sales in general are down. I respect the following mic drop in Tesla’s release today:

In terms of days of sales, new vehicle inventory declined further in Q3 as we continue to improve our delivery efficiency.


2nd Gear: Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Go To India In 2021

Take this with a grain of salt, since Elon said in March 2019 that Tesla might be India in 2019 or 2020, but it does seem that Tesla will make it there eventually.


Here is the relevant tweet:


India sure seems like a sleeper candidate for the next big EV market, though, as Bloomberg reported last year electric cars aren’t much of a thing there yet, with only around 8,000 sold between 2013 and 2019.

3rd Gear: GM Is Going For A Bigger Stake In Nikola

GM’s previous tentative deal was a $2 billion stake in exchange for becoming a manufacturing partner, but we heard this week that GM might be reconsidering things after Nikola’s stock price fell off a cliff and its founder quit. Now it sounds like GM isn’t seeking to call things off but, in fact, just wants better terms.


From Bloomberg:

General Motors is considering revisions to its deal with embattled Nikola Corp., according to people familiar with the discussions, and may seek a higher stake in the startup now that its valuation has fallen after allegations of deception.

GM tentatively agreed to take an 11 percent stake in Nikola as part of a cash-free deal made public last month. The Detroit automaker would supply hydrogen fuel-cell technology to its junior partner and manufacture a new battery-powered pickup for it called the Badger. Talks to finalize the agreement are ongoing ahead of a Dec. 3 deadline.

Since the deal was announced on Sept. 8, Nikola stock has fallen by more than half and GM has sought better terms before closing, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. GM could push to raise its equity in Nikola beyond the planned 11 percent or seek warrants that would guarantee or even increase that level of ownership if the company raises more money.


It should be said that GM doesn’t have a whole lot of skin in the game here. It’s not putting money into Nikola, instead agreeing to provide it with technology and to make the Nikola Badger — things that may or may not happen depending on whether the Badger and Nikola end up being vaporware. Still, GM’s possible continued association with this startup has an air of desperation.

4th Gear: Nikola Is Also Mad At YouTubers

This is, you know, fine, but it is curious that Nikola is pressing forward with a hypersensitive approach, given that a loud social media presence was a big part of its now-departed founder’s whole deal.


From the Financial Times:

At least two online financial commentators who run channels on the Google-owned video platform have had clips removed by YouTube this week.

Sam Alexander, who runs a YouTube account that has posted several critical videos about Nikola, said he received a notification from the platform on Wednesday afternoon that one of his videos had been taken down because he had used footage of the Nikola One truck in motion.

He added that 10 minutes later, another three of his videos with the same footage were removed.

“Right now my main concern is that Nikola is using copyright strikes to silence their critics,” he told the Financial Times, adding that he was considering filing an appeal with YouTube.

A spokesman for Nikola said: “YouTube regularly identifies copyright violations of Nikola content and shares the lists of videos with us. Based on YouTube’s information, our initial action was to submit takedown requests to remove the content that was used without our permission. Going forward, we will evaluate these flagged videos on a case-by-case basis.”


I was a bit out of the loop yesterday, but in that time Nikola sent out two separate press releases. One said that Nikola was co-sponsoring a Politico event, while the other announced that Nikola had a new board member. Nikola’s goal for the next month or so should be to take things down a notch.

5th Gear: Traffic Deaths Are Down In The U.S. For The Third Straight Year

But the fuller picture is a bit complicated.

From the Associated Press:

The downward trend is continuing into this year with people driving fewer miles due to the pandemic, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday.

The agency says deaths fell 2% last year, to 36,096. That’s 739 fewer than the 36,835 fatalities reported to the agency in 2019.

The decrease came even though vehicle miles traveled increased by nearly 1%, reducing the fatality rate to 1.1 per 100 million miles traveled. That was the lowest since 2014.

The agency says pedestrian deaths fell 2.7%, bicyclist fatalities dropped 2.9% and motorcycle deaths dropped 0.5%. Deaths in passenger vehicles fell 2.8%.

Estimates by the agency show that traffic deaths in the first half of this year fell 2% from the same period in 2019, to 16,550. But traffic volumes fell more than the number of fatal crashes, increasing the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled to 1.25. That’s up from 1.06 for the first half of 2019.


In short: It doesn’t seem like this represents much progress.

Reverse: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Is Born

He was born in 1987. I completely forgot that he was in a relationship with Danica Patrick for years.


Neutral: How Are You?

I’ve been under the weather since yesterday. And here I thought increasing my daily alcohol intake would inoculate everything.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.



1st gear - Elon is a fucking asshole but the company he runs is ahead of the pack and kicking some ass. Maybe some other giant manufacturers can give them some competition and us, as consumers, some cheaper offerings before like 2025?

Just crazy how much time and ground the big boys have ceded to Tesla. Tesla is entrenched now and everyone else is playing catch up.