Tesla Keeps Cashing In

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Tesla is raising billions more, Nikola’s disgraced founder is doing just fine — and snakes. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 8, 2020.


1st Gear: Tesla Wants To Raise Up To $5 Billion

You can read the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission here. Tesla plans to raise up to $5 billion by selling stock, as it seeks to cash in on its still-high-flying stock price.

From the Financial Times:

The company said in a filing on Tuesday that it would sell new shares from time to time on the open market, handing it more flexibility over the pricing than if it held a formal secondary offering of stock.

The announcement comes just weeks before Tesla is due to enter the S&P 500, a move that is expected to fuel further demand for the stock as passive investors who track the US benchmark index are compelled to buy.

Tesla has hired 10 banks, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Barclays, to help it sell the shares.


Long dogged by problems over meeting its delivery targets, an improvement in its underlying performance in 2020 has burnished its credentials among investors.

However, the challenges facing Tesla are growing. Despite a lead in battery car technology, Tesla is confronting renewed competition from incumbent players such as Volkswagen, which has pledged to spend €35bn to achieve its electric vehicle ambitions.

It’s difficult to fault Tesla for much when people keep buying Tesla’s cars and investors keep giving them money.

2nd Gear: GMC Dealers Won’t Be Getting Buyouts To Not Sell EVs

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that about 150 Cadillac dealers — or around 17 percent of the total — would take buyouts to head for the exits. That’s because the shift to EVs will require some investment on the part of dealers, and many of them would rather tap out instead.


GMC won’t be offering the same deal to its dealers as the ramp up for the Hummer EV continues.


Cadillac’s future is almost exclusively EV crossovers, while I expect ICE versions of the Sierra, Canyon, Yukon, et al to stick around for a bit. The differing treatment makes some sense.

3rd Gear: Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Speaks, Sort Of

Bloomberg caught up with Milton, or a spokesperson at least. Milton had an eventful summer, tweeting a lot before deleting his account and resigning from Nikola, the alternative fuel truck startup that said recently it was bailing on the Badger.


From Bloomberg:

Trevor Milton said he remains committed to his Nikola Corp. holding and doesn’t plan to relinquish his position as its largest shareholder even though a restriction has been lifted, addressing speculation that he could divest of his stake in the company he founded and resigned from.

Milton is confident in Nikola’s long-term success, a spokesperson for him said via email late Monday. With his 33% stake, he could still sell millions of shares and remain the largest stockholder. The founder of the clean-energy trucking startup resigned as chairman amid fraud allegations in September.

The comments came after it emerged that Milton disposed of 3.2 million Nikola shares as part of three real-estate transactions made while he was still with the company.

Nikola’s lockup period to sell stock expired on Nov. 30, enabling insiders and other early investors to sell. Nikola Chief Executive Officer Mark Russell, who owns shares in the company directly and through a joint entity with Milton called T&M Residual, told Bloomberg he recently agreed to extend a lockup on those shares along with several other unspecified strategic shareholders.


4th Gear: There’s Good News For Volkswagen On Batteries

Batteries are the next frontier for car tech innovation, as you know. Tesla is working on making its own batteries, while other automakers and suppliers are busy improving theirs.


Bloomberg reports that a startup VW is investing heavily in has reported some progress:

QuantumScape Corp., a battery startup that counts Volkswagen AG as its largest shareholder, says new data show its batteries can be charged to as much as 80% of full power in 15 minutes, almost twice as fast as a Tesla Model 3.

The performance data, which have yet to be road tested, suggest QuantumScape’s batteries could offer about 50% more miles than the same electric car with current commercial battery technology. They also can be charged 800 times with minimal degradation, meeting a benchmark for batteries in most electric vehicles. But the startup has yet to demonstrate it can mass manufacture its new battery.

QuantumScape raised more than $700 million by going public via a reverse merger earlier this year. It’s now seeking to bolster investor confidence it can pull off a breakthrough that has eluded battery researchers for decades. The San Jose, California-based company is one of several startups and incumbents trying to develop solid-state batteries, an innovation that holds the promise of dramatically speeding up EV adoption by providing automakers with a safer, cheaper alternative to lithium-ion batteries.


5th Gear: Snakes? Snakes!

One more item on Tesla: The company is hard at work building its plant outside Berlin, which will pump out Model Ys sooner or later. Well, maybe more later now that a German court ordered Tesla to stop clearing trees at the site because of snakes. Snakes? Snakes!


Amazingly, the possibility of snakes shutting down the plant came up all the way back in January. Tesla knew this was going to be an issue.

From Reuters:

A German court has told the U.S. billionaire’s electric vehicle company Tesla to suspend clearing of a forest at the site of the proposed factory after environmentalists said that cutting down more trees could endanger hibernating snakes.

“The Landesumweltamt (state environmental authority) and Tesla will now be consulted, they need to make submissions by this afternoon and then we assess the situation,” a spokesman for the administrative court in Frankfurt an der Oder in eastern Germany said on Tuesday.

Tesla declined to comment. The Landesumweltamt declined to comment further.


Environmental activists from a local group, NABU, are concerned that the smooth snake, also known as Coronella austriaca, may be hibernating in the ground at the site, and that tree-cutting activity may disturb its winter slumber.

Local authorities are also reviewing claims by NABU that Lacerta agilis, also known as sand lizards, could be put at risk by Tesla’s expansion, NABU said.


Look, we must protect the sand lizards at all costs.

Reverse: Albert Kahn

He was the architect of the Packard Automotive Plant, among many others; the Packard plant, of course, is still in limbo.


Neutral: How Are You?

My mom informed me on Sunday that she has the virus with mild symptoms, despite taking all the precautions. She’ll probably be fine, though at her age she is considered higher risk. This is the perfect coda, really, for the dumbest presidency of my lifetime.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


Shane Morris

Sorry to hear about your mother falling ill, Erik. Obviously I definitely wish her a speedy recovery.

The pastor of my childhood church died last month from COVID. We weren’t particularly close, and I hadn’t thought of him in years — but despite some philosophical differences, he was a good man. I knew his two kids, and his son Matthew and I played sports together growing up.

I don’t really try to avoid politics, especially if it’s topical. And it is. When a Jalopnik writer is impacted, we’re all impacted. (Yeah, we’re in this together. I’d even let you borrow my jack stands for an extended period of time.)

I was struck by this interview that President Trump did with notable Presidential journalist Bob Woodward, I think it was back in May or something, but there was this excerpt from the audio recordings that just... it honestly floored me. President Trump noted that he couldn’t have done anything different, and wouldn’t have done anything different. I guess I’m lucky that I lived a fairly diverse early life, traveling the world, having family in South Korea, England, Chile, Argentina, Denmark... oh yeah, and cousin Julie in Germany. I got around quite a bit, and here’s one thing I noticed: Every other fucking country with any reasonable amount of money used common sense.

Any sane, reasonable person there would have, at the very minimum, mentioned that they wished they could have done more. That they could have known sooner. That they wish scientists would have seen the rising tide. I mean, seriously. Fucking anything would have been better than what he said.

When we just needed people to wear masks to protect people like my old pastor, a man who was admittedly in his 80s, but still in good health... we didn’t. President Trump stood before a podium and declared it was totally voluntary, and then said, “I’m not going to wear them.”

My son is six months old, and the majority of my family still hasn’t met my son, because I’m shit-terrified that even if I test negative, I might still have a virus that I got from touching a gas pump or something while my mom is visiting, and then my mom is dead or something.

Oh yeah, and one more thing: People think that rolling out this vaccine is going to be easy. It’s not. We only distributed 130 million tests over the course of nine months. We’ll need to get 325 million double dose vaccines out to a nation that has a hard time with simple shit like, “Wash your fucking hands.”

This virus is going to kill more people in America than World War II. That’s a fucking lot, man. And sadly, a lot of the people who are dying in their 80s and 90s right now are WWII veterans. Just let that sink in for a moment. The same motherfuckers who were badass enough to storm the beaches of Normandy, the people who fought in the jungles of Guadalcanal — those people are dying alone and scared in hospitals, because we have a fucked up cult leader and his little dipshit army of fuckups who just couldn’t be bothered to wear a fucking mask.

I can only hope that President Trump is reincarnated as anal beads owned by a low-rent Arkansas stripper who loves cheap Mexican food.