Toyota Is Raking It In

Illustration for article titled Toyota Is Raking It In
Photo: Toyota

The rebounding economy is not affecting everyone evenly, and we’re seeing real winners (and losers) emerge. All that and more in The Morning Shift for May 12, 2021.


1st Gear: While Other Japanese Carmakers Slump

Toyota’s net income more than doubled in the most recent quarter to $7 billion, with profit margin up a more reasonable nine percent, as Automotive News reports. What stands out to me is that Toyota is not just riding some kind of tide lifting all boats, as Automotive News explains:

Toyota’s robust results contrast with those of other Japanese automakers reporting earnings so far this week.

Toyota-affiliate Subaru Corp. reported that its full fiscal year operating profit plunged by half.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. slumped into the red for the full-year, and the red ink at partner Nissan Motor Corp. expanded to the company’s biggest-ever operating loss.

Honda Motor Co., which reports its earnings May 14, has projected an 18 percent slump in fiscal-year operating profit.

And Mazda Motor Corp., which reports the same day, revised its outlook on Wednesday to warn that its full-year operating profit is expected to plunge 80 percent.

Toyota will be rolling its newfound profits into its push for electrification, the company claims, which might put some of its confused investors at ease.

2nd Gear: Self-Driving Electric VW Buses Testing In 2025

This is the future that 1960s hippies wanted, well, the ones that didn’t want us all to be living on communes never needing cars at all. Still, a self-driving electric VW Bus (the ID. Buzz) still feels like some sort of retrofuturism. From Axios:

Pittsburgh-based Argo AI will begin testing self-driving Volkswagen vans in Germany this summer, its first test market outside the United States.


  • Testing will begin soon at a dedicated test track near the Munich Airport, similar to Argo’s existing test center in Pittsburgh.
  • The plan is to launch an autonomous ride-pooling service in Hamburg by 2025, under VW’s existing mobility brand, MOIA.
  • Autonomous delivery service using a cargo version of the vans will be added shortly thereafter.
  • The services will roll out in other cities later, including in the U.S., according to officials with VW’s commercial vehicles division.

It feels weird to be feel positive about a new car coming. I feel like I need to be more cranky about it.

3rd Gear: BMW’s Giving Hydrogen Another Shot

Years after experimenting with hydrogen combustion engines, BMW is giving fuel cells a shot, as Reuters reports:

German automaker BMW plans to unveil a limited series of hydrogen fuel cell crossovers in 2022 as the company continues to research zero-emission alternatives to battery-electric cars, the company’s top executive said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the carmaker’s annual shareholder meeting, CEO Oliver Zipse said the company plans a small production run of a hydrogen fuel cell powered X5 crossover next year.


I am amazed that BMW has had the money to pursue so many different strategies at eco cars. I would have thought they’d still be locked in to all the carbon fiber stuff with new generations of the i3 and i8 by now.

4th Gear: Tesla Sales Down A Quarter In China Last Month

I try not to take month-by-month sales figures too seriously, but it’s hard not to ignore Tesla sales in China plummeting amid scandal after scandal over there. From CNBC:

The U.S.-based electric car company sold 25,845 made-in-China vehicles last month, down 27% from 35,478 in March, according to figures released Tuesday by the China Passenger Car Association.


Meanwhile, negative press has increased for Tesla in China. In the last few months, local reports of Tesla brake failures, crashes and explosions have mounted and drawn scrutiny from regulators. Separately on Tuesday, Reuters reported, citing sources, that Tesla has halted plans to buy land and expand its Shanghai factory.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, or the association’s figures. Shares fell about 1.9% overnight and are down roughly 12% for the year so far.


5th Gear: A Nice Piece On The Futility Of Highway Expansion

This Governing article from a week ago crossed my feed today and I felt compelled to share it as well. The sticking point is that America is in love with expanding highways even though they do nothing to reduce congestion. From Governing:

But the mother of all examples has to be the Katy Freeway in central Houston, expanded in 2011 to more than 20 lanes in some segments, making it one of the widest highways in the world. That project cost $2.8 billion. When it was finished, travel times out of downtown increased, by some estimates as much as 30 percent, during the busiest portions of the day.

FIASCOES LIKE THESE run into the reality of “induced demand,” the phenomenon that lures more vehicles and more congestion to a highway after it is expanded than were there before. The idea goes back to the 1960s, when the economist Anthony Downs promulgated what he called “the law of peak-hour expressway congestion.” “On urban commuter roads,” Downs argued, “peak-hour congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.” Traffic planners, especially those in state highway departments, refused to believe it. They went with what they considered common sense and kept expanding and widening. They made a costly mistake.


The article also details cases when high demolition has helped open up cities, though usually the demolitions are from acts of god (like the Embarcadero collapse in the wake of the World Series quake) than from us humans.

Give the whole thing a read here.

Reverse: At That Point Was He Just Regular Tex?


Neutral: How Are You?

My fiddle leaf fig, having sat dormant all winter, just sprouted a new leaf after I fed the plant the other day. Spring is a kind time. Also, my nose is a faucet.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.


J-BodyBuilder - Never stick to sports

Perhaps BMW could pursue an attractive vehicle.