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That Tesla-Hertz Deal Isn't Done After All

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that 'no contract has been signed.'

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Tesla is recalling thousands of cars, also its valuation is going down because of a tweet from Elon Musk, and Jaguar Land Rover lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the third quarter. All that and more in The Morning Shift for November 2, 2021.

1st Gear: Hertz Will Probably Still Buy A Lot Of Teslas But Elon Said It Isn’t A Done Deal Just Yet

Hertz said last week that it would be buying 100,000 Teslas, which is about a tenth of Tesla’s current annual production capacity, meaning that it would not happen all at once but over the course of many months, if not years. Still, that news was credited with making Tesla’s stock price soar, and sending its valuation to over $1 trillion.


That was all sort of ridiculous, but very much in keeping with the Tesla way, itself generally ridiculous. Also keeping with the Tesla way is a tweet from Elon Musk that, today, is sending Tesla’s stock price in a different direction.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“I’d like to emphasize that no contract has been signed yet,” Mr. Musk said in a tweet late Monday. “Tesla has far more demand than production, therefore we will only sell cars to Hertz for the same margin as to consumers. Hertz deal has zero effect on our economics,” he said.

Representatives for Hertz and Tesla weren’t immediately available for comment.


Tesla shares dropped 4% premarket.

Some people like to say that Elon is very calculating with his tweets, and there are also some who say he uses them to manipulate Tesla’s stock price. I have never really believed either of those things. His tweets are consistently bad, for one thing. Also, he’s a weird guy with a ton of different interests and not enough time for any of them, much less time to overthink tweeting.


Anyway, Tesla stock is down a little over two percent as of this writing.

2nd Gear: Tesla Is Also Recalling Almost 12,000 Teslas

This includes certain cars among all four Tesla models, the Y, X, S, and 3, according to Reuters. This is all apparently related to the Full Self-Driving updates that Tesla rolled back last week before updating it again. None of that was very surprising for anyone familiar with software development, though the worrying thing is that lives are at stake. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is involved. Per Reuters:

Tesla Inc is recalling nearly 12,000 U.S. vehicles sold since 2017 because a communication error may cause a false forward-collision warning or unexpected activation of the emergency brakes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tuesday.

The California automaker said the recall of 11,704 Model S, X, 3 and Y vehicles was prompted after a software update on Oct. 23 to vehicles in its limited early access version 10.3 Full-Self Driving (FSD) (Beta) population.

FSD is an advanced driver assistance system that handles some driving tasks but Tesla says does not make vehicles autonomous.

NHTSA said Tesla “uninstalled FSD 10.3 after receiving reports of inadvertent activation of the automatic emergency braking system” and then “updated the software and released FSD version 10.3.1 to those vehicles affected.”

The agency said it “will continue its conversations with Tesla to ensure that any safety defect is promptly acknowledged and addressed.”

3rd Gear: Jaguar Land Rover Lost A Lot Of Money In The Third Quarter

That would be £302 million, or $413 million in July, August, and September, according to Automotive News. JLR says that isn’t a problem though, because JLR has a supply problem and not a demand problem. Supplies, of course, have been affected by the chip shortage.

CFO Adrian Mardell told investors Monday that the company had unfulfilled demand of 160,000 vehicles. “That’s probably the highest number in history of the company,” he said.

JLR has 128,000 vehicles on its order books, Mardell said. At the same time, dealer inventories are down to 20,000 and those held by the company are at 27,000.

“It’s the lowest level of dealer inventories we’ve had, going back a long time in the history books,” he added.


JLR had said it would face production losses of 60,000 to 65,000 vehicles in the quarter because of the chip shortage.

Mardell said that prediction came to fruition but declined to give a number for the next quarter. “The worst is behind us. Production for Q3 will be better than Q2,” a spokesman for Tata Group said on the call.


JLR can tell itself that things are just fine, but I would be pretty worried if I were in its position. Its cars are overpriced and poorly-built in comparison to the German and Asian luxury automakers. Jaguar Land Rover is also behind the times in terms of electrification, or at least behind in sales. The I-Pace has been quietly — too quietly — on sale since 2018. JLR can only get by on its name for so long.

4th Gear: Rivian Wants To Be Worth Over $53 Billion

Rivian is going public, previously saying it hoped to be valued at $80 billion, or less than a tenth of what Tesla is valued at. I guess Rivian has tampered those expectations a bit, according to Reuters.

Rivian Automotive Inc, which is backed by Inc (AMZN.O), is targeting a valuation of more than $53 billion for its U.S. debut, making the electric vehicle manufacturer potentially almost as valuable as rival Honda Motor (7267.T).

The startup is looking to raise up to $8.4 billion, setting it up to be the third-largest initial public offering (IPO) by funds raised in the past decade in the United States.


Rivian, which confidentially filed paperwork for an IPO in August, will, however, face tough competition from automakers in both the consumer and commercial van markets.

Ford said last week it has more than 160,000 orders for its F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck and that an electric version of its Transit commercial van is “completely sold out.”

General Motors is gearing up production of electric delivery vans, SUVs and pickup trucks.

Rivian said it would sell 135 million shares at a price range of between $57 and $62 each.


Rivian’s stock price and valuation will inevitably be compared to Tesla’s for as long as the two companies shall live. By that measure, it has a long way to go.

5th Gear: Automaker Runs Ad

This isn’t for a car, but against the tax credit for union-made electric vehicles that is currently being considered in Congress. The automaker is Toyota, whose factories in the United States are not unionized and thus would stand to lose from the credit. The ad is running today in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, according to Automotive News. The ad is best read in the voice of a tired old man.

“What does this say to the American autoworker who has decided not to join a union? It says that their work is worth $4,500 less because they made that choice,” the ad says.

“What does this say to the American consumer?” the ad continues. “It says that if they want to buy an electric vehicle not made by Ford, General Motors or Chrysler, they will have to pay an extra $4,500 — which is about $100 more per month over a four-year period.”

Toyota, in the ad, is asking Congress to “put politics aside” and apply the EV tax credit equally to all EVs assembled by U.S. autoworkers.

The automaker did not disclose how much it spent on the ad.

Toyota’s American factories are almost all in right-to-work states, which is no accident. It’s really too bad that Toyota is now experiencing the consequences of its own actions.


Reverse: Howard Hughes


I cannot recommend “The Aviator” more highly.

Neutral: How Are You?

I have mentioned it before, but it looks like I’m going to drive to California in early December, when I also need to take my Fit in for its New-York-state-required annual inspection. I expect that they will say that the pads and rotors need replaced, or maybe not. The car is in fine shape otherwise, approaching 80,000 miles, but I will also ask them to go a little above and beyond: “This car’s going to make it to California and back, right?”


I will also replace the spare, given that the current one is 13 years old, which is too old for any tire, though a brief scan of Tire Rack just now suggests that might be a little more complicated than I thought. Apparently, with small cars on their way out, small tires went with them.