Tesla Thinks It Could Make A Half-Million Cars This Year

Tesla wants to finish 2020 strong, the Mazda MX-30 is happening, and I fear we have to talk about Nikola again. All that and more in The Morning Shift for October 8, 2020.



a car parked in a parking lot


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Tesla’s stock price is back to hovering around $420, the price that CEO Elon Musk desires for it. It’s an unfunny weed joke but also a good result for an executive whose compensation is in large part tied to Tesla’s stock price.

Anyway, Musk has sent one of his regular emails urging his employees to work like hell to reach Tesla’s production aims, in this case a goal to make over 500,000 cars this year. Musk sends one of these emails reliably every few months that now—now!—is the time to push.

Reuters has seen the newest one:

Tesla Inc TSLA.O has a chance at producing 500,000 cars this year, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told employees, according to an internal email seen by Reuters.

[…]

Tesla said in January that 2020 vehicle deliveries should comfortably exceed 500,000 units, a forecast the company has left unchanged despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This all comes down to Q4. Please take whatever steps you can think of to improve output (while increasing quality)”, Musk wrote to employees on Wednesday.

I will go out on a tiny limb here and say that Tesla will probably hit that target, in no small part because of its Shanghai factory. Cue another boring round of debates between Tesla bulls and shorts.

Tesla’s new plant in Berlin is part of its strategy to diversify its manufacturing base, along with its plants in California, China, and Texas. This is all quite the highwire act, but so far Tesla has been succeeding. Making batteries in Berlin is particularly highwire.

From Reuters:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker will build the Model Y with a new structural battery design and technology at its new European factory next year and the plan could result in a “significant production risk.”

Tesla plans to build a new version of its Model Y crossover, and possibly even battery cells at the site near Berlin. Last month, Musk said that Tesla will use its German plant to demonstrate a radical overhaul of how its cars are built.

The company plans to start the production of Model Y at the plant during the second half of 2021.

Gallery: Volvo’s Polestar EV brand will add this sleek new model to its Tesla-challenging lineup — see the ‘Precept’ (Business Insider)

In Europe, the Mazda MX-30 is a fully-electric vehicle with the right amount of range and power, but Mazda says it’ll start life in Japan as a hybrid, according to Automotive News. Also: that new rotary engine.

Mazda is introducing its MX-30 compact crossover in Japan as a mild hybrid first, not as the full-electric vehicle it unveiled last year at the Tokyo Motor Show.

But the Japanese carmaker says a version of the new nameplate will also be the first to get a revived rotary engine, when the company introduces it as a range-extender in 2022.

The MX-30, which went on sale Thursday in Mazda Motor Corp.’s home market, will initially get an e-Skyactiv G engine mated to a 5.1-kilowatt assist-motor and 24-volt lithium ion battery.

[…]

“As part of multi-electrification technologies, the rotary engine will be employed in Mazda’s small-segment products and be introduced into the market in the first half of 2022,” he said.

In Japan, the hybrid MX-30 starts at 2,420,000 yen ($22,900) and runs up to 3,393,500 yen ($32,100), including tax. It is available in both two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive layouts.

Nikola is a startup that the Financial Times describes as a “revenue-less business,” which is both funny and accurate. The EV truck startup has been on a campaign in recent days to convince people (investors and GM) that it’s in it to win it. Today, it steps up that campaign.

On Thursday its efforts will step up a gear. A showcase of the company’s hydrogen technology at a key industry conference will, Nikola hopes, begin to win over sceptics.

The revenue-less business was briefly this year valued more highly than Ford. But Nikola’s valuation has plummeted from its giddy heights of $30bn to around $10bn now and cornerstone shareholders have watched profits from their investment slide, unable to trade.

[…]

Nikola’s fight to regain confidence accelerates on Thursday with an event to explain its in-house hydrogen technology to attendees at the virtual Mission Hydrogen conference.

The 24-hour summit draws together experts from across the hydrogen world, including the carmakers Toyota and Hyundai, the oil company BP and the head of the US energy department’s fuel cell unit.

Jesse Schneider, Nikola’s executive vice-president of hydrogen and fuel cell technology, will present the technology powering the company’s fuel cell truck prototype and its plans to develop hydrogen fuelling stations and infrastructure — plans that are at the heart of the company’s business plan.

I will believe this company is legit when it stops acting like one that is very much not.

The Financial Times has the scoop, a good reminder of how globalized world economies have become.

Carmakers, who are used to managing brittle supply lines that criss-cross the world, are no strangers to the impact of far-flung disruption. So when the first reports of extended factory closures in Wuhan due the coronavirus outbreak emerged in January, carmakers scrambled again to understand how it would affect their global production network.

“I know it will hit us, I just have no idea how,” one senior industry executive confessed to the FT earlier in the year.

Wuhan, located in China’s central Hubei province, had been set up as an inland automotive hub by the government, and was densely populated with suppliers, whose parts fed into supply chains that ended in car factories in Japan, the US, and across Europe.

Late in January, Fiat Chrysler became the first carmaker to warn publicly it was weeks away from closing European plants after a shortage of parts from China.

In the jaws of the supply chain crisis — the weeks between China’s closure and the widespread European and American shutdowns in late March — Jaguar Land Rover admitted to flying parts over in suitcases from China to keep its production lines in Britain running. At one point, the company was building one key fob for the car, rather than the standard two, to fulfil orders. A second key fob was then flown straight to the dealers. “There are always little things you can do to try and keep the supply chain working,” according to Mr Hartnett.

I don’t know why they post things like this but I’m happy they do: Here is over four hours of Bubba Wallace driving on Sunday.

I voluntarily watched the vice presidential debate last night, so this morning I am unwell.

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