Toyota Took The Chip Shortage In Stride And Made Billions

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Toyota again made a lot of money, Tesla and Hertz are negotiating, and Aston Martin. All that and more in The Morning Shift for November 4, 2021.

1st Gear: The Chip Shortage Barely Fazed Toyota

In terms of profits at least, if not production. The world’s biggest automaker said Thursday that it had operating profits of $US6.7 ($9) billion in the second quarter of its fiscal year, which ends in March. That is up from $US4.5 ($6) billion in the same July-August-September timeframe last year. By almost every metric, Toyota cleaned up, according to Automotive News:

In announcing its financial results on Thursday, Japan’s biggest automaker said net income advanced 33 per cent to 626.6 billion yen ($US5.61 ($8) billion) in the July-September quarter.

That marked a record high for the company’s fiscal second quarter.

Revenue grew 11.4 per cent to 7.55 trillion yen ($US67.62 ($91) billion), even as global retail sales dipped 0.5 per cent to 2.51 million units as Toyota began slowing output due to supply chain issues.

CFO Kenta Kon credited cost control, better inventory management and improved pricing power for the resilient results, even as Toyota cut back on production. Tight supply of vehicles and high demand, for example, enabled Toyota to curb incentives and slash marketing expenses.

Toyota was also lifted by favourable foreign currency exchange rates, which boosted the value of its dollar-denominated earnings when converted back into Japanese yen.

“Production volume declined globally, but our suppliers, plants and dealers made great efforts to supply as many cars as possible,” Kon said. “However, in comparison to the past level, although there is some risk of a production decrease, it is going to recover quite a bit.”

Toyota was ready for this, and is now reaping the rewards.

2nd Gear: Hertz And Tesla Continue Their Dance

Hertz announced last week that it was going to buy 100,000 Teslas, and have them by the end of next year. That apparently took Tesla by surprise, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk saying earlier this week that “no contract has been signed.”

Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that the two companies are actively negotiating terms of the deal. At issue seems to be just how quickly Tesla can make the cars for Hertz.

Some Tesla officials were surprised by how quickly Hertz said the order would be filled and had been expecting to deliver roughly 10,000 vehicles a year to Hertz, one of the people said. Another one of the people said the press release was shared with Tesla representatives. Wall Street expects Tesla to deliver nearly 900,000 vehicles globally this year.

The two companies are hammering out details of a deal that would specify the timing of deliveries, the people said. Tesla is still expected to supply the 100,000 vehicles at the list price to Hertz, with timing of the deliveries being the key issue, the people said.

“As we announced last week, Hertz has made an initial order of 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles and is investing in new EV charging infrastructure across the company’s global operations,” Hertz said, repeating a statement issued Tuesday. “Deliveries of the Teslas already have started.”

Tesla’s stock jumped after the initial news, and has remained up, making Tesla’s current valuation $US1.2 ($2) trillion, which is bananas.

3rd Gear: Aston Martin Sees More Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Aston Martin desperately needed the DBX to be a hit, and it looks like it got what it needed. Aston reported its third-quarter results Thursday, and, like in the second quarter, they were promising. That’s because Aston sells a luxury SUV now, the DBX, and luxury SUVs are where the money is at. Aston sold a good amount of DBXs.

From Reuters:

Aston Martin (AML.L)said on Thursday it had sold 1,349 cars to dealers in its third quarter, up 104%, driven by demand for the luxury automaker’s first sport utility vehicle, the DBX.

The brand, which posted a 97.9 million pound ($US134 ($181) million)pre-tax loss between July and September, said it expected to deliver its first steps towards improved profitability this year as it undergoes a transformation plan.

[…]

It maintained on Thursday its guidance of full-year sales of around 6,000 cars as it scales up production of its Valkyrie model with deliveries beginning this quarter.

“Through the first nine months of this year we have successfully built on the foundations we put in place for the company’s success in 2020,” said [Executive Chairman Lawrence] Stroll.

Stroll’s next magic trick will be if he can get Aston’s Formula 1 team into shape.

4th Gear: An Expanded EV Tax Credit Is Still Being Debated In Congress

Congress has been mulling over social policy and infrastructure bills for what feels like forever now. Both of them would’ve been done and dusted long ago if not for the fact that Republicans can’t be bothered to lift a finger to help America and two Senate Democrats are using the occasion to go on extended ego trips. The bills include a lot of things, and have changed significantly as Democrats seek to eke out a compromise. One thing in the infrastructure bill that seems likely to stay is an expanded version of the EV tax credit.

Reuters has the latest terms of it, which will also probably change again before finalised but also likely not that much.

House Democrats released a revised bill on Wednesday that expands a proposed tax credit of up to $US12,500 ($16,886) for electric vehicles to slightly pricier vehicles, while lowering income limits for eligible buyers.

The bill revises pricing for vehicles eligible for the credit: vans, sport utility vehicles and trucks up to $US80,000 ($108,072) are eligible, while sedans remain at $US55,000 ($74,300) as they were under the prior version.

The earlier version capped credits at $US64,000 ($86,458) for vans, $US69,000 ($93,212) for SUVs and $US74,000 ($99,967) for pickups.

The new proposal limits the full EV tax credit for individual taxpayers reporting adjusted gross incomes of $US250,000 ($337,725) or $US500,000 ($675,450) for joint filers, down from $US400,000 ($540,360) for individual filers and $US800,000 ($1,080,720) for joint filers.

I have been leery of reading anything about the negotiations in Congress to protect my mental health, and will now return to that posture. Wake me up when they are done.

5th Gear: Ford Orders A Vaccine Mandate For ‘Most’ Salaried Employees

Ford says that, already, a large majority of its salaried workers have gotten jabbed, and it said on Wednesday that it would require most of the rest of them to get jabbed, too. This will be by December 8, which is the same day the federal government has required its contractors to implement vaccine requirements.

From Automotive News:

“The health and safety of our workforce remains our top priority and we have been very encouraged by the support of our employees to comply with our protocols, including the more than 84 per cent of U.S. salaried employees who are already vaccinated,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “As we continue to put measures in place to protect our team, Ford will now require most U.S. salaried employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8, which also aligns to federal contractor guidelines.”

The news was first reported by Detroit radio station WWJ.

This requirement does not affect Ford’s blue-collar workforce, which are the UAW-repped people who actually assemble the cars. It is not clear why, especially given that federal rules that say that companies with more than 100 workers will have to make sure their workers are vaxxed or get tested weekly will take effect on January 4. That’s the same date as the mandate from Mercedes-Benz here in the States.

It is also not clear what the exemptions are for Ford, though I emailed Ford to ask both questions and will update this post if I hear back.

Reverse: Oil Crisis

This sounds delightful.

Neutral: How Are You?

I learned the other day that Holland, despite being frequently used interchangeably with the Netherlands to refer to that country, is in fact just a region of the Netherlands, much in the same way that England is just one part of the United Kingdom. And here I considered myself learned and well-travelled.




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