Traditional Carmaker Investing In EVs Sees Big Gains: Who Could Have Foreseen This?

Illustration for article titled Traditional Carmaker Investing In EVs Sees Big Gains: Who Could Have Foreseen This?
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A major automaker has tried investing in this newfangled technology called electric cars with something affordable and desirable. And you know what, that company is doing pretty well! What a shock. That and more in The Morning Shift for October 23, 2020.


(FYI: Some of the links below are to paywalled stories. Pay for the journalism you value!)

1st Gear: Renault Beats Revenue Expectations Thanks To Zoe

For years we’ve seen automakers poke around at EVs, the most promising/disappointing probably being Nissan talking big game only to give us a remarkably strange looking hatchback and little else for years. Now its old pal Renault is getting in on an affordable mass-market EV and it’s doing rather well, as Bloomberg reports:

Renault SA reported third-quarter revenue that beat estimates, partly fueled by a surge in sales of its popular electric model that the carmaker said will allow it to meet European emissions rules.

Although revenue fell 8.2% to 10.37 billion euros ($12.2 billion) in a period still marked by the pandemic, it surpassed the 9.96 billion-euro average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The French manufacturer sold fewer passenger cars and trucks in the quarter, but sales of the battery-powered Zoe more than doubled, Renault said Friday.

A lot of this is right place, right time, as the EU is backing EVs very, very hard right now. And the EU is also heavily penalizing any carmaker not selling a bunch of EVs, so none of this is in a vacuum.

2nd Gear: German Auto Industry Is Finally Getting The Message

A new report from Germany’s Der Spiegel notes that its national auto industry has traditionally been one of the biggest roadblocks against green regulation, but that’s changing. Probably because of everything I mentioned above. Per Der Spiegel, translated by Google because I’m too lazy to do it myself:

In the dispute over stricter CO 2 limits, the German car industry in Brussels has always played the role of the brakes. Even in view of the corona-related sales crisis, the car bosses refused further charges until the end.

But this attitude seems to be changing: According to SPIEGEL information, Volkswagen , Daimler , BMW and Co. are apparently giving up their tough resistance to the EU’s more stringent CO 2 targets.


“We want to be part of the solution,” it says in a draft. In order to achieve the desired climate neutrality, “ambitious climate targets for 2030 are necessary and correct”. It “makes sense that the EU regularly reviews the climate targets as part of the Green Deal”.

3rd Gear: West Coast Dems Want California’s Gas-Powered Ban To Go Federal

Taking a page out of E-40's playbook, regulators in California and other states on the Left Coast want to spread California’s 2035 ban on gas-powered vehicles to all 50 states, as the Detroit News reports:

West Coast Democrats this week introduced federal legislation that would ban U.S. sales of new vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035, despite electric vehicles accounting for less than 5% of sales last year.


“If we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who introduced the bill with California Rep. Mike Levin, said in a statement. “By moving aggressively and boldly now, we can help save Americans from the dire health and economic impacts of the climate crisis, and make sure American workers are the ones building the next generation of cars for the world.”

The proposal comes on the heels of California Gov. Gavin Newsom last month signing an order seeking to ban new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Likewise, a recent report from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection suggests all new vehicles will need to be electric or hydrogen-powered by 2035 to meet the state’s climate goals.


As I have said before, the Governator state should lead by example and simply do it now.


4th Gear: Tesla Recalling About 30,000 Cars Imported To China

This is a weird one in the context of most America’s disdain for “Made In China” goods: Tesla is now issuing a recall of around 30,000 cars imported into China, but not the cars it makes there in Shanghai. Bloomberg explains:

The company is recalling vehicles made between Sept. 17, 2013, and Jan. 15, 2018, according to a statement by the State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday. There are two different suspension defects, and some of the recalled vehicles potentially have both of them, the authority said.


The recall applies to the bulk of imported vehicles the company sold in China in recent years. Tesla started manufacturing in Shanghai around the start of 2020, and after that, sales of imported models have only typically been a few hundred vehicles a month.


5th Gear: Please Enjoy This Incomprehensible Article About Ford’s CEO Racing Vintage Cars

I don’t know what, exactly, the Detroit Free Press is doing running an article claiming that experts are warning that the new Ford CEO Jim Farley’s vintage racing hobby is dangerous, but it’s a fun read:

Ford Motor Co.’s new CEO Jim Farley’s racing hobby is risky business that raises the stakes for shareholders if he is injured or killed doing it, some business experts said.

Ford’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford has signed off on Farley continuing to race his vintage cars, raising concerns over what measures are being taken to protect Farley and the company in the event he has an accident.


Ford provided Farley’s comments made to two other outlets, but declined to comment on its specific safety protocols or any insurance policies it has on executives.

Some business experts say Farley’s racing habit is no more risky than everyday dangers any of us face. For example, Bank of America executive James Mahoney died this past August from a head injury he suffered in a 2019 bike accident.

“In the age of COVID, risk is redefined,” added Harley Shaiken, a business professor at the University of California, Berkeley. “Eating indoors at a restaurant is high risk.”


Reverse: Keep Whistlestop Tours To Trains, Thank You

Via 365 Days Of Motoring:

Friday 23rd October 1896

William Jennings Bryan, riding in a Mueller-Benz provided by local dealer and manufacturer Henry Mueller, became the first US presidential candidate to campaign in an automobile during a stop in Decatur, Illinois.


Neutral: What Will Be America’s First Number One Electric Car?

At some point, America’s best-selling car will be an EV. What do you think it will be, and which automaker do you think will make it?

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.


Silas Von Dookiebird

3rd Gear: Why don’t we take the obvious step nationally and ban all two-stroke engines? They’re absolutely filthy, smoke like your old-ass uncle who will never die despite living off a diet of cigarettes and cheap whiskey, and they create an unbearable racket. That seems like the lowest hanging fruit on the reduce-engine-based-emissions tree. The only exception I could see making would be forest service chainsaws. But besides that, all two-stroke engines could go. Small lawn? Get a battery-powered or electric lawn mower. Huge lawn? Put a four-stroke with good emissions controls in it. Leafblower? Weedwhacker? Snowblower? Again, battery or long extension cord.

Neutral: Electric F150 will probably take the crown. And while I would love an electric truck the F150 is just way too huge. How do people park those things? How do you see where you’re driving? They’re crazy! If Ford made an electric Ranger, or even something a little smaller (Fe100?), I might be game. Or, you know, Rivian.