Tesla Pulls Giant Lever Marked 'Stonks' Again

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Tesla hit another extremely high stock price again, as the Financial Times reports, and we can’t help but talk about it. That and more in The Morning Shift for Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

1st Gear: I Guess This Counts As News

Just as the company loses a court case over Autopilot being misleading, and as it refuses to break out sales of its new Model Y from the Model 3, Tesla did a stocks again.

Business journals gushed last night that the Tesla stock price went up, before it went back down again to a level above where it used to be. Elon Musk tweeted about it. Stay tuned for the next involvement of the Tesla stocks saga, when the stock price will go up, then down, and Elon will tweet about it. I hope at some point Elon will actually build a cartoonishly large lever labeled “stonks” and pull it at various times to simplify the news cycle.


2nd Gear: Leasing An Electric Car In Germany Has Become Ridiculously Cheap

Every so often a government wakes up and says “oh shit we need some EV subsidies.” Various American states pull the big incentives lever every so often, giving us spots of interesting cars like the Fiat 500e. China has pulled the lever a few times, and now Germany is giving it a shot with spectacular results for people leasing tiny electric hatchbacks. A Bloomberg wire report lays out the details:

Car buyers in Europe can now get their hands on a brand-new electric vehicle for less than the typical cost of a mobile-phone contract. Thanks to newly generous subsidies, some are even free.

Shoppers have swarmed virtual showrooms in Germany and France — the region’s two largest passenger-car markets — after their national governments boosted electric-vehicle incentives to stimulate demand. Their purchase subsidies are now among the most favorable in the world, according to BloombergNEF.


The report notes that some Renault Zoe leases are entirely covered by subsidies, while another company offers all-electric Smart cars for 9.90 euros a month. They are having a hard time meeting demand.

3rd Gear: Oh So You All Love RVs Now

My image of RVs will forever be out of the Recession, with lots filled endlessly with gleaming white RVs, waiting for Boomer owners never to come.


Where were you all then, when RVs needed you?

Whatever that may be, Americans seem jazzed about RV’ing again, according to a new report from Bloomberg, which is nice. RVs are great, if you want to hold up traffic crossing America in an extremely fancy port-a-potty.


Bloomberg details an excellent packet of buzzwords in “The Airbnb of RVs Is Booming After Covid-19 Nearly Destroyed It,” noting how at least one RV company is back in business after losing a good 90 percent of reservations at the start of Covid:

When the pandemic slammed the travel industry earlier this year, Jeff Cavins didn’t know if his startup was going to make it. Cavins is the chief executive officer of Outdoorsy Inc., a Texas-based RV marketplace. In March and April, as Americans scrapped their travel plans en masse, Outdoorsy’s cancellation rate ran as high as 90%.

Cavins furloughed 40% of his staff, gave across-the-board pay cuts and said he wouldn’t take a salary through the end of the year. Despite having raised more than $80 million from investors, the company took a $1.5 million loan from the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program to staunch the bleeding.


Now, a few months later, Outdoory’s outlook is dramatically different. As the coronavirus has lingered in the U.S., air travel is seen as more dangerous than driving and even hotels could be potential vectors for disease. That combination has prompted millions of Americans to plan to vacation in RVs this year, according to data compiled by the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, far more than traveled that way last year.


This Bloomberg report follows a New York Times trendpiece on yuppie RV’ing (choosing #Vanlife as its buzzword) that wondered aloud if this was all a bubble that would soon disappear:

Benjamin Fraser, who founded Ready Set Van in March, said he was “blown away by how deep the vanlife dream has permeated culture, and it made me realize we’re actually selling a lifestyle, a whole new way of living.”

He gets about 20 inquiries a day for vans. People have offered to throw in an extra $10,000 to cut in line, which he does not allow. He is soon moving the business into a 15,000-square-foot facility near Lambertville, N.J.

Before vans, he was into cryptocurrency trading, and the van boom times remind him of that heyday, he said. He worries it could disappear just as quickly. “Is it just going to evaporate the moment we have a vaccine?” Mr. Fraser said.


I know at least one person who has struck out for life on the road. I wish him and all the rest of you well.

4th Gear: GM Finally Gets CDC Approval To Make N95 Masks

I genuinely thought this happened a long time ago, but apparently not, as the Detroit Free Press reports:

After months of waiting, General Motors received certification to start making N95 face masks at its facility in Warren.

The approval comes as cases of coronavirus are escalating in some parts of the country such as Florida and Texas where front line workers need the airtight face masks to treat infected patients.

The N95 masks are actually filtering face piece respirators that require a complex four-step process to make, GM spokesman Monte Doran said Tuesday. That is why they require approval by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


5th Gear: Texas Ready To Give Tesla Millions In Tax Breaks

There’s some joke that I might be able to make connecting lighting money on fire and Big Tex, but my brain just isn’t doing it. In any case, Texas approved giving millions in tax breaks to lure in Tesla. Reuters reports:

The decision marks a step forward for Texas as it vies with Oklahoma to attract a new factory to build Tesla’s Y sport utility vehicles and cybertrucks.

A majority of commissioners in Travis County voted in favor of providing the electric carmaker with a tax rebate worth at least $14.7 million.

That brings the total amount of tax rebates to nearly $65 million after the Del Valle school district, which includes the proposed factory site, approved a $50 million incentive on Thursday.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Texas will stop at nothing—nothing—to stick it to Oklahoma. This is unwise and rude. Choose love, Texas.


Reverse: Malaise Era Begins

A heady day for Jalopnik, this is when you can mark the era of the American auto industry’s greatest, weirdest, saddest period. We got compact pickup trucks on one hand, wheezing diesel Lincolns on the other.

Via History:

On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation via live television to discuss the nation’s energy crisis and accompanying recession.

Carter prefaced his talk about energy policy with an explanation of why he believed the American economy remained in crisis. He recounted a meeting he had hosted at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Maryland, with leaders in the fields of business, labor, education, politics and religion. Although the energy crisis and recession were the main topics of conversation, Carter heard from the attendees that Americans were also suffering from a deeper moral and spiritual crisis. This lack of “moral and spiritual confidence,” he concluded, was at the core of America’s inability to hoist itself out of its economic troubles. He also admitted that part of the problem was his failure to provide strong leadership on many issues, particularly energy and oil consumption.


Neutral: What Are Stocks?

We just don’t know.