Tesla Still Has It All To Do

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Tesla will probably have record profits, Toyota wants to make 11 million cars, and Hyundai. All that and more in The Morning Shift for January 25, 2022.

1st Gear: Tesla

The thing with Tesla — or the thing with any public company, really — is that, in the eyes of investors, it is only as good as its last earnings report, even in this age of meme stocks, when a viral post on Reddit can send stock prices soaring, or not. Investors are always looking for what’s next; investors are always looking for growth. Get busy living or get busy dying, to quote an old movie, and investors will reward you or punish you in kind.

For Tesla, even though it has spent the past decade and more defying the odds and becoming a real car company, investors are now asking questions about its next act, which is expanding production in Germany and Texas. Also, the Cybertruck. Also, where the hell is the $25,000 Tesla, which CEO Elon Musk said in 2020 would happen?

From Reuters:

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk promises an updated product roadmap on Wednesday, with eyes on the time frames for the launch of Cybertruck and a hoped-for $25,000 electric car.

“I would not be surprised if Tesla has some significant manufacturing challenges, producing the new vehicle structures and new batteries in high volumes,” Guidehouse Insights analyst Sam Abuelsamid, said.

[…]

A source told Reuters that Tesla aims to start initial production of the [Cybertruck] in early 2023, saying they are making changes to features and functionalities from its original version.

“This is the first time that Tesla has brought a vehicle out with serious competition,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions, referring to Ford and Rivian, which are planning to ramp up production.

As it is very hard to crack into the U.S. truck market – the home turf of American “Big Three” automakers, Tesla is likely to go after “weekend warriors or lifestyle buyers” rather than traditional commercial buyers, he said.

[…]

“Longer term investors care about Model 2,” [Gene Munster, managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Venture] said with the current vehicle pricing, Tesla would not be able to grow volume by 50% every year.

The “Model 2″ will likely not be called Model 2 because Elon has said as much, but as a stand-in for a $25,000 Tesla, the idea remains the same, even if it is a stripped-down Model 3 in the end. I think a $25,000 Tesla would be awfully convincing.

2nd Gear: Meanwhile, Tesla

JPMorgan sued Tesla in November, saying that Tesla owed it millions in part because of a tweet from Elon. That was a bit of a rarity, because lenders don’t like to publicly squabble. Such was the degree of beef. Tesla fired back on Monday in a court filing, according to the Financial Times.

Tesla has escalated its legal battle against JPMorgan Chase in a court filing that accused the bank of putting “its thumb on the scale” in an effort to gain a windfall from Tesla shares last year.

The filing by Tesla, the world’s most valuable carmaker, in Manhattan federal court on Monday came in response to a lawsuit filed in November by JPMorgan, the biggest US bank by assets.

[…]

In a counterclaim filed against JPMorgan on Monday, Tesla said the revisions the bank had made to the warrants were in breach of their contract, describing the adjustments as “a classic ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ scheme” engineered to net a bigger payout.

It asked for the bank’s complaint to be dismissed as well as unspecified damages.

“JPM’s conduct between August 2018 and 2021 was entirely self-serving and intended to gain JPM the improper benefit of a discount on the price of Tesla shares that were gaining rapidly in value,” Tesla claimed in its court filing.

A JPMorgan spokesperson said: “There is no merit to their claim. This comes down to fulfilling contractual obligations.”

“Heads I win, tails you lose” is not an idiom I was familiar with before today, though it is funny imagining JPMorgan uttering those words to Tesla in person.

3rd Gear: Teen Hacks Tesla

Who doesn’t love a good teen hacker? Give me more teen hackers.

From Bloomberg:

The 19-year-old cybersecurity researcher who remotely accessed dozens of Tesla Inc. vehicles through a third-party flaw, has a new trick: hacking the car owners’ email addresses to notify them they’re at risk.

Earlier this month, David Colombo discovered a flaw in a piece of third-party open source software that let him remotely hijack some functions on about two dozen Teslas, including opening and closing the doors or honking the horn. In trying to notify the affected car owners, he then found a flaw in Tesla’s software for the digital car key that allowed him to learn their email addresses.

[…]

“Once I was able to figure out the endpoint, I was indeed able to carry the email address associated with the Tesla API key, the digital car key,” Colombo said in an interview Monday with Bloomberg Television. “You shouldn’t be able to carry sensitive information like an email address using an access that is already expired or revoked.”

The teenager, from Dinkelsbühl, Germany, said he has shared the additional vulnerability with Tesla, and the car company’s engineers have written a fix to prevent it from happening in the future.

Anyway, Elon is having a normal one.

4th Gear: Hyundai Thinks It Has Almost Turned The Corner

The Korean automaker said Tuesday that it expects the chip shortage to ease in the third quarter of this year, though still with some pain before then.

From Reuters:

South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) forecast on Tuesday its vehicle production would rebound in the first half of this year as a global chip shortage is expected to ease gradually from the second quarter.

“The normalization of auto chip supply and demand is expected in the third quarter, when the capacity of semiconductor companies is expected to rise,” Executive Vice President Seo Gang Hyun said on Hyundai’s conference call.

The shortage will continue in the first quarter due to the spread of the Omicron variant, Seo said, adding it was the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic in Southeast Asia and resulting chip sourcing troubles that pushed Hyundai’s sales to less than the targeted 4 million vehicles in 2021. read more

[…]

Hyundai said it expects a 20% sales jump in its biggest market, North America, in 2022.

Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Corp (000270.KS), together among the world’s top 10 automakers by sales, have forecast a 12.1% jump in their combined global sales for 2022, after their sales fell almost 4% short of a target of 6.92 million vehicles last year due to the chip shortages.

5th Gear: Toyota Mostly Agrees

That is according to Nikkei, which says that Toyota will make 11 million cars in fiscal year 2022, or about 2 million more than what it is estimated to have done in fiscal year 2021.

The plan suggests the Japanese automaker anticipates a strong recovery in a global auto market that has been held in check by a shortage of key components amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Toyota has shared the plan with key parts suppliers so that they can draw up their own production plans.

For the current fiscal year, Toyota’s output is estimated at about 9 million vehicles.

The upbeat projection assumes that the pandemic will be brought under control, and that there will be ample supplies of semiconductors. If the plan comes through, Toyota’s output will top its previous production record set in fiscal 2016.

Of the 11 million vehicles it aims to make, 7.5 million will be produced overseas and 3.5 million will be made in Japan — an increase of 25% and 15%, respectively, from the fiscal 2021 plan.

Reverse: Dakar

The submarine, not the rally.

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