Tesla Made $1.6 Billion

The profit beat expectations on Wall Street, which had been expecting only $1.3 billion.

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Photo: AP (AP)

Tesla made a pile of cash, Ford is very excited about the Maverick’s city mpg number, and Pete Buttigieg. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 21, 2021.

1st Gear: Tesla Had A Good Quarter

Tesla has handled the chip shortage better than others, and the numbers don’t lie. That is, they reported $1.6 billion in profits for the months of July, August, and September, a record for them. From The Wall Street Journal:

The strong earnings came after Tesla delivered roughly 73% more vehicles than in the year-ago period. Underpinning that growth was an uptick in sales of vehicles made in China, now home to Tesla’s largest auto plant by output.

The company on Wednesday said it also benefited from cutting some expenses. The efficiency gains, combined with greater vehicle output, more-than offset higher supply costs and other factors, including a reduction in the average price of the vehicles the company sold in the period.

The car maker reported a $1.6 billion third-quarter profit, up from $331 million a year earlier, on record revenue of $13.8 billion. The results beat Wall Street expectations of a profit of around $1.3 billion and $13.6 billion in revenue.

Tesla is more vertically integrated than many auto makers, helping the company navigate the chip shortage more smoothly than some of its competitors, analysts said. Supply chain problems still took their toll.

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People liked to clown on Tesla for trying to do everything in house, but the HATERS will have to give this one to them. The next question for Tesla will be if it can deliver a million cars for 2021, though things are looking like it will fall just shy.

2nd Gear: The Ford Maverick Gets 42 MPG In The City

Ford says that the Maverick is the “first standard hybrid pickup in America,” which is true, I guess, though we did have hybrid pickups before, forgotten as they are. Anyway, Ford is very happy about new EPA fuel mileage estimates for it.

The all-new 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid pickup – the first standard hybrid pickup in America – is now officially America’s most fuel-efficient hybrid pickup with an EPA-estimated rating of 42 mpg city.1

The 2.5-liter hybrid has an EPA-estimated rating of 37 mpg combined, 33 mpg highway and an EPA-estimated range of more than 500 miles on a single tank of gas.2

“Our team set out to redefine what a truck could be with Maverick, and we’ve done that with an EPA-estimated 42 mpg city that beats the 2022 Honda Civic 1.5-liter 4-cylinder automatic (variable gear ratio) gasoline engine. At the same time, Maverick offers room for five and plenty of towing and hauling for weekend trips or do-it-yourself projects,” said Chris Mazur, Ford Maverick chief engineer.3

Maverick uses Ford’s innovative fourth-generation hybrid propulsion system, which includes an all-new 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission. Its briefcase-size, liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery is packaged smartly below the second-row seats rather than occupying a significant portion of the cargo area.

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This is good and the Maverick seems very good, though I beg of you to stop calling it small.

3rd Gear: Pete Buttigieg Is Happy To Take Elon Musk’s Call

Yesterday, it was reported that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would appoint a woman named Missy Cummings to advise it on autonomous vehicles. This made Elon Musk unhappy, because he said she is biased against Tesla, which is to say she is interested in things like “safety.” Anyway, Pete Buttigieg, who is the Secretary of Transportation, said yesterday that Elon should shut the fuck up. Edit: Buttigieg said: “He’s welcome to call me.” NHTSA, of course, is part of the Department of Transportation.

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From Reuters:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Wednesday that Tesla (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk should directly raise with him any issues about the hiring of a senior safety adviser who has been critical of the automaker.

“He’s welcome to call me if he’s concerned,” Buttigieg told reporters at an event on Wednesday. “We are responsible for making sure that every vehicle on the road is safe.”

[...]

Last week, NHTSA asked Tesla why it has not issued a recall to address software updates made to Autopilot system to improve the vehicles’ ability to detect emergency vehicles.

To date, NHTSA has identified 12 crashes that involved Tesla vehicles using the advanced driver-assistance systems and emergency vehicles. NHTSA said most of the incidents took place after dark.

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If Elon is mad about something, it is almost always a good thing.

4th Gear: AutoNation Is All Too Pleased With The Hot Car Market

The biggest car retailer in America reported profits of $367.1 million, because almost any car is worth a good chunk of change these days and AutoNation buys and sells a lot of them. It is yet interested in buying many more.

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From Reuters:

AutoNation, which reported another quarter of record income, said new vehicle inventory remained at historically low levels leading to a marginal rise in new vehicle revenue in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Used vehicle revenue, on the other hand, jumped 53% to $2.32 billion compared to $1.51 billion a year earlier.

Net income from continuing operations was $361.7 million, or $5.12 per share, for the quarter, compared with $182.6 million, or $2.05 per share, a year earlier. Adjusted net income per share was $5.12.

Revenue rose 18% to $6.4 billion.

Analysts on average had expected the company to report a profit of $4.2 per share, on revenue of $6.3 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

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5th Gear: United Airlines And The Pandemic

There is no story The Wall Street Journal loves telling more than a story about how a business navigated a thorny set of issues to emerge successful, because The Wall Street Journal is a newspaper that fundamentally loves successful business. These stories are not bad, necessarily, even though they celebrate capitalism. They are often quite interesting, as in a story today about how United Airlines has been handling the pandemic. Basically, United decided that it would stop trying to predict things and go with God.

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A taste of it:

United executives in the summer of 2020 assembled the “bounceback team” representing the airline’s operations, network planning, finance, labor relations, IT, safety and several other divisions, say United executives involved in the effort.

Senior leaders told executives who had focused on shrinking the airline to turn their attention toward how to rebuild. Many had never worked together or met before starting their regular virtual meetings. Over the course of that summer, their focus turned from predicting when demand would return to putting pieces in place so United could be prepared whenever it did, thinking through pitfalls that could trip up its eventual recovery.

For each scenario it considered, the group created a ramp-up schedule, quizzing operational units about how many people they would have to hire and whether they had resources needed. Capt. Curtis Brunjes, who oversees United’s work recruiting pilots and who worked with the team, says, “We were looking for the blind spots.”

The group talked airports into speeding up security-badge processing to reduce the time needed to bring aboard new and returning employees. Realizing it would take upward of six months to get flight instructors in place, some of the people involved in the bounceback team appealed to COO Jon Roitman for permission to start hiring even at the depths of Covid in the summer of 2020. They set up infrastructure for training—virtual or in-person—for employees who would return from leaves and need iPads, computers and desk space.

They created a dashboard to monitor suppliers’ financial health to make sure the suppliers could keep up with United no matter how quickly traffic returned. Pivoting from weekly town halls with rank-and-file pilots worried about downsizing to meetings about the details of eventual growth was “almost surreal,” Mr. Brunjes says.

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Reverse: Alfredo Pían Born

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I never get tired of reading about the forgotten Formula 1 guys.

Neutral: How Are You?

I have awoken, I fear, on the wrong side of the bed, an expression which flummoxed me for so many years, literalist that I tend to be. There can be a wrong side of the bed?