Listen to “AD #3252 – Aston Reveals New Powerful DBX; More EV Startup Scandals; January U.S. Car Sales Not Too Good” on Spreaker.
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0:08 Top Executives at EMLS Resign
0:53 Faraday Future Execs Forced to Take Pay Cut
2:12 Ford Launches $20 Billion Reorganization to Look More Like Tesla
3:26 January U.S. Car Sales Not Too Good
4:11 GM Posts Whopping Profit Increase
4:54 Former Tesla Co-Founder Bets on Battery Recycling
6:15 Aston Reveals More Powerful DBX707
6:15 Tesla FSD Recall Feedback
8:16 Car Nicknames
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
TOP EXECS AT ELMS RESIGN
We start off the show today with a couple of scandals involving EV startups. The CEO of ELMS, Jim Taylor, and company chairman Jason Luo, both resigned yesterday. And that sent the stock price over a cliff. Reuters reports they bought company shares on the cheap without getting an independent valuation that set a fair market price. And that’s not kosher. Several other unnamed executives also resigned. Jim Taylor was a former General Motors executive who ran Cadillac and Hummer. Jason Luo is a successful entrepreneur who ran Ford of China for five months in 2017 until he mysteriously resigned.
FARADAY FUTURE EXECS FORCED TO TAKE PAY CUT
Now over to Faraday Future, where CEO Carsten Breitfield and founder Jia Yueting are getting forced to take a pay cut because they fed investors inaccurate information and hid some other info. Their base pay will be cut 25% and now they have to report to a new executive chairman. This is at least the fourth scandal involving EV startups that we can think of. The other two involve Lordstown Motors and Nikola. The common thread in these scandals is that they all involve companies that raised a bunch of money with a SPAC. And maybe this is why just days ago the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced it’s going to start investigating SPACs a lot more thoroughly.
Speaking of struggling startups, we’re going to have Justin Fishkin on Autoline After Hours tomorrow. He was one of the top executives who worked at Local Motors, the company that wanted to use 3D printing to make cars. But it just went out of business. Well before that happened Justin joined a startup called By Fusion that’s taking waste plastic and turning it into construction materials. We’ll be asking him for insights and advice to entrepreneurs who want to start their own business. And we’ll definitely be asking him about SPACs.
FORD LAUNCHES REORGANIZATION TO LOOK MORE LIKE TESLA
Ford is going to launch a $20 billion reorganization that’s going to make it look a lot more like Tesla. At least from a business standpoint. While Ford has not announced anything officially, Bloomberg reports that CEO Jim Farley wants to see the company develop the in-house capability to develop battery chemistry, artificial intelligence and software for electric vehicles. Doug Field, the former Tesla executive that Ford hired away from Apple, is in charge of the restructuring. Ford may even end up spinning off a small part of its EV business, since Wall Street is going crazy over EV startups. The spinoff, if it even goes through, would involve low volume models. And that’s got us thinking. Would it involve electric Lincolns? Or electric commercial vans? Or a special project with Rivian? If you think you know the answer, we’re all ears.
JANUARY U.S. CAR SALES NOT TOO GOOD
Automakers in the U.S. reported their sales for January and the numbers don’t look too good. Wards Intelligence reports that the SAAR fell to 15 million vehicles, down from nearly 16.8 million. Automakers sold fewer than a million vehicles, down more than 10% from a year ago. That million-vehicle mark has been something of a bellwether for us. Sales never dropped under a million in any month last year. But January wasn’t bad for everyone. Ward’s estimates that Tesla sales shot up 58%. BMW and Mitsubishi posted a 21% gain, Hyundai was up 11%. Porsche was up nearly 10% and Volvo was up more than 8%.
|U.S. NEW VEHICLE SALES JANUARY, 2022
|TOP OEM PERFORMERS
|Source: Wards Intelligence
GM POSTS WHOPPING PROFIT INCREASE
Speaking of sales going down, General Motors sold a lot fewer cars and trucks last year. Half a million fewer. All because of Covid and the chip shortage. Even so, it boosted its revenue by nearly 4%. And it posted a profit of nearly $10 billion, up a whopping 57% from last year. Thanks to tight inventory, GM did not have to offer any discounts or special sales. So all that money dropped right to the bottom line. And that’s why we keep saying that automakers are not going to build inventory levels back to where they were before the chip shortage. No siree bub. Not with the kind of money they’re making now.
|General Motors 2021 Earnings
FORMER TESLA CO-FOUNDER BETS ON BATTERY RECYCLING
Automakers around the world are scrambling to find the raw metals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles. And former Tesla CTO and co-founder JB Straubel thinks he has the answer. He left Tesla in 2019 for a battery recycling startup called Redwood Materials. The company’s goal is to create a closed loop to recycle, remanufacture and rebuild batteries. That will eliminate a lot of mining for raw materials. Strauble says there isn’t any degradation in the performance of the materials, and they can be recycled multiple times. In time, he says, recyclers will be able to supply most of the materials the industry needs for EV batteries.
ASTON REVEALS NEW POWERFUL DBX
Aston Martin is launching a new version of the DBX, called the 707. Aston says it’s “The World’s Most Powerful Luxury SUV.” It gets a version of the DBX’s twin-turbo 4.0L V8, but revised with ball bearing turbochargers and its own unique calibration. That bumps it to roughly 700 horsepower, an increase of more than 150 horsepower. A new wet clutch DCT replaces the torque converter unit used in other DBXs and when paired with a new electronic limited slip differential, allows this SUV to do 0-62 MPH in a claimed 3.3 seconds. And big carbon ceramic brakes are standard to bring it all to a stop. The DBX707’s air suspension system retains the same basic architecture as the DBX V8, but features new damper valving and a dedicated chassis tune. The interior is meant to match the sporty theme of the exterior with premium materials and dark chrome finishes, but the vehicle can be personalized in any number of ways through Aston Martin’s bespoke services division. Production of the DBX707 starts soon and deliveries kick off in the second quarter.
TESLA FSD RECALL FEEDBACK
Tesla had to recall over 50,000 cars because with Full Self Driving they can roll through a stop sign at low speed if no one else is around. And a bunch of you had a lot to say about it. “STOP means STOP! Geez!” I think DanaPointJohn pretty much summed up how the entire comments section feels about vehicles rolling through stop signs, even if there’s nothing around. Hindsight being 20/20; probably not the best of ideas advocating for an illegal road maneuver. A number of people, like Steve Johnson and GTI GUY, point out it barely takes any longer to come to a full stop.
Now let’s jump over to another topic that had your finger furiously pecking at the keyboard: car nicknames. Here’s a list of all the names you provided, which included two identical repeats from separate people. Those were Old Blue and Ruby, but there was also Blue, Jouley, Reefer, Monster, Glider, Magnificent 7, The Decathlete, Big Cheese, Felix, The Silver Bullet, The Red Torpedo, Silver Lightning, GJOHAN, Freddie, Babe, Beau, Dean, KARR and Pearl. Thanks to everyone that shared. And as for why Gen Z nicknames their cars more, Landon Thomas theorizes, “younger people… grew up watching more hours of cartoons and movies when we were younger. Fun, unusual names aren’t such a stigma for people who grew up hearing names like that on TV.” Interesting take.
Anyway, thanks for all your comments. That brings us to the end of today’s show and thanks for tuning in.
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Seamus and Sean McElroy cover the latest news in the automotive industry for Autoline Daily.