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Cars are parked to be exported at Yokohama port, near Tokyo on Sept 29. Photo: AP/Koji Sasahara
The drop in Japanese exports diminished last month, according to government data released Monday, underlining how trade damage from the coronavirus pandemic may be easing.
Japan’s exports in September were down by 4.9% from the same month a year ago, better than the nearly 15% decline recorded in August, Finance Ministry data showed.
The nation’s imports fell 17.2% overall, but exports to China gained 14%, the ministry said. Exports to the U.S. inched up 0.7%, in another possible sign of a gradual rebound. By sector, exports to the world in computers surged nearly 45%. Imports had fallen 20.8% in August from a year earlier.
Japan’s export-reliant economy has sunk into recession, with three straight quarters of contraction, through June, as the outbreak slammed business activity and deadened trade.
But a recovery in China, where COVID-19 emerged late last year, as well as recoveries elsewhere in Asia, are helping prod along a recovery for Japan.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who took office a month ago, left Sunday to visit Vietnam and Indonesia, where virus cases are relatively low, to drum up business and trade.
His predecessor, Shinzo Abe, had tried to sustain economic growth with his “Abenomics” package of programs based on zero interest rates and curtailing deflation.
Suga, from the same Liberal Democratic Party, is expected to carry on the policies, now dubbed “Suganomics.”
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The Foxconn logo is displayed on a Foxconn building in Taipei on January 31, 2019. Sam Yeh | AFP | Getty Images
Foxconn, the Taiwan company that assembles Apple’s iPhone, has launched an platform to help automobile companies make electric cars.
The technology giant is best known for being a major assembler of consumer electronics products such as smartphones. But the latest announcement pushes Foxconn into a market which could be worth over $800 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research, as it looks to diversify its business.
William Wei, an executive at Foxconn, said the company’s aim is to be come the Android of electric vehicles, in a reference to Google’s mobile operating system.
“We believe that to be our mission,” he said.
Android, the world’s largest mobile operating system by market share, managed to become dominant because it is open source. That means smartphone makers can use the near-ready-made software on their smartphones but also customize it to their needs. In comparison, Apple’s iOS is only for iPhones and is tightly controlled by the Cupertino-based giant.
In that vein, Foxconn introduced what it called the “MIH Open Platform.” It is essentially a set of tools that would allow a company to design large parts of an electric car that would be manufactured by Foxconn.
Carmakers can choose the chassis design of their cars from SUVs to sedans and customize it however they wish, from the distance of the wheels to the size of the battery. Foxconn calls its platform “modular,” which means some components could be replaced and upgraded at a later date.
But Foxconn is also offering software that developers can build upon. Some of it relates to mission critical functions and driverless cars.
It appears Foxconn is trying to get together nearly all the parts required for an entire car.
The company said it is working on so-called solid-state batteries, which are seen as the next-generation evolution of the current lithium ion batteries used in cars. They could unlock further ranges and more efficiency. Foxconn said it expects to launch a solid-state battery in 2024.
“After 2025, whoever masters solid state battery technologies will dominate the industry,” Jerry Hsiao, chief product officer at Foxconn said.
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Tesla just reported record Q3 vehicles deliveries, which will result in more renewable energy credits it can sell to automakers like Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler.
Other electric vehicle start-ups, such as Nio, Rivian, Lordstown Motors and Nikola, could benefit from zero-emission vehicle credits in the years to come.
More U.S. states are planning credit programs or will make existing ones stricter, and cover more classes of vehicles, including trucks.
The emissions trading market has proven to be a successful example of climate finance.
Tesla’s ability to manufacture electric vehicles without losing money has been a constant concern for investors. As renewable energy credits have played a significant role in the recent string of quarterly profits from Elon Musk’s EV company, they have been a source of some frustration for Wall Street analysts — who have struggled to get a handle on how much revenue these credits will rack up in any quarter — as well as generating skepticism from investors.
But there’s nothing dubious about the renewable energy credit market. In fact, Tesla’s domination of zero-emission vehicle credit trading — where it is estimated to have sold more credits than any other company — is an example of a climate finance mechanism that is working as it was designed to work. Tesla, unlike traditional automakers, risked it all on making and selling EVs. Meanwhile, traditional car companies are required to pay up, by other means, for the choice of delaying their transition to battery electric or fuel cell electric zero-emission vehicles.
“The last thing a company wants to do is pay their competitor to eat their own lunch,” said Simon Mui, deputy director of the clean vehicles & fuels group at the Natural Resources Defense Council. But he added that is exactly what car makers like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — which signed a private deal with Tesla to buy credits in the European market — have had to do.
“Automakers are scrambling to catch up and they see that Tesla, like any other automaker who can produce more EV credits than they require, can monetize the credits. They’ve done it from the beginning and it has been a big element in terms of providing a strong tailwind,” Mui said.
The NRDC expert compared the market to the renewable portfolio standards implemented by U.S. states which have provided renewable energy companies in sectors like solar and wind power with a market to sell to utilities. “That’s how the renewable energy industry got its start. …. We will see Rivian and Lordstown and all of these other EV start-ups coming to market taking advantage,” Mui said. “Rivian is seeing it and also licking their lips.”
The recent numbers related to this trading are large. In Q2 2020, revenue from the renewable energy credit market were $428 million, and that’s revenue that comes at no-cost, unlike the challenges that an auto manufacturer faces in trying to eke out profit margins from the factory operations. It all flows down to the bottom line and the last quarter was the largest ever for these credits at Tesla.
They won’t advertise this, but you can bet that every company, whether GM or Toyota or FCA, does not want to pay Tesla.
NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL
The role of the RECs in the U.S. car market — in programs like California’s ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) credit transfers — is going to grow in the years to come. Tesla’s CFO Zachary Kirkhorn recently said that its revenue from RECs will double in 2020. That will continue to be a cause of consternation on Wall Street. Stock analysts need firm numbers to build their financial models and attempt to estimate how a company will perform in any single quarter. The lack of transparency on renewable energy credit trading has bedeviled those efforts.
“It’s probably the biggest source of their earnings beat over the last four quarters, and a line item that is so unpredictable,” said Garrett Nelson, senior equity analyst at CFRA Research.
“The market is not transparent, like an equity market or bond market,” Nelson said. “That makes it harder to model, difficult to model. As an analyst, you know that probably will be the biggest swing factor every quarter in terms of whether they meet or miss estimates, and that’s why we’ve had this wide range of massive earnings beats over the last four quarters. That line item has been larger than anyone expected.”
Renewable energy analysts agree about the lack of transparency. Unlike California’s greenhouse gas cap-and-trade market which has transparent pricing and volumes, most of the information about the ZEV trading remains obscure. “Car companies might know what these credit prices are going for, but it’s really hard to say how much information they even have when making choices,” said Benjamin Leard, an environmental economist and fellow at Resources for the Future, who has made estimates of the trading market based on California’s required disclosures. “There’s room for improvement,” he said.
The market for trading zero emission vehicle credits is not transparent, but Resources for the Future and others have attempted to shed some light on Tesla’s trading action and revenue per credit in recent years. Source: Resources for the Future
But CFRA Research analyst Nelson does not begrudge Tesla the success in the climate finance market, even as it makes his job harder.
“We view the regulatory tax credits as sort of a reward for producing EVs that people want to buy. Aside from Tesla’s Models 3, X and S, only one other non-hybrid, battery EV model sold over 10,000 units in the U.S. in 2019 (the Chevy Bolt). The vast majority of other EV models haven’t sold very well at all,” Nelson said. He added that while it is impossible to accurately estimate the revenue Tesla will generate from these credits due to the lack of disclosures, he does expect it to remain strong through the end of 2021. “Other manufacturers don’t have the EV sales Tesla has right now,” he said.
CFRA expects next quarter’s revenue from the renewable energy credits to surpass $600 million and Nelson said there is a direct correlation between Tesla’s market share in EVs, which keeps growing, and the size of the regulatory credit revenue. Tesla vehicles accounted for 58% of all EVs sold in the U.S. last year, up from 14% in 2014. The credit revenue will continue to go up because Tesla will increase market share even more into 2021,” he said.
Tesla just reported a record Q3 delivery number.
“Shipments are up 30%-40% this year, while other EVs have not caught on,” Nelson said. “That will change over time, but over the next four to six quarters, Tesla will continue to increase market share.”
Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
Credits market to get stricter and bigger
To date, the zero-emission vehicle credits market “is basically just Tesla selling,” said Leard, though his research shows that Nissan also benefited to a lesser extent in the early years of this program due to the Nissan Leaf. “If you look at the list of companies that have traded in every year, Tesla is one of them, and maybe the only one among sellers.”
He expects the market will get stricter and more widespread, and for car makers, that means either selling more electric vehicles or paying up in the form of banking the credits. Ideally, the climate mechanism pushes more automakers to make the decision to invest in electric vehicle technology, and at the same time, place more pressure on the credits market.
ZEV programs similar to the California one are in place in eleven other states across the country, including most recently Colorado. Together, those states comprise 30% of the U.S. vehicle market. “Those credits, the number and volume, will go way, way up and the value may go up as well,” he said.
“We have sold these credits, and will continue to sell future credits, to automotive companies and other regulated entities who can use the credits to comply with emission standards and other regulatory requirements,” said Tesla in an annual report.
Tesla revenue from the sale of automotive regulatory credits increased from $360 million to $419 million and then $594 million in the 2017-2019 period. The Q2 2020 sales alone were above the full-year 2018 sales figure.
There is also a federal law covering greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions which allows Tesla to sell excess credits to other manufacturers. These programs are growing, and that is not taking into account the U.S. presidential election outcome, which could also be a significant driver of climate finance.
“We could see a huge expansion in these programs, depending on the election,” Nelson said. “A Biden win would be bullish for EV manufacturers as he has proposed increasing number of EV charging stations by 20 times the current infrastructure, from 27,000 to over a half million.
Mui said in the years to come the ZEV programs will approach 40% of car sales, with additional states considering it. And the U.S. is just one market, with new entrants like Nio from China also to benefit, whether it enters the U.S. market in the near future or not. “All of these automakers are facing similar standards in the other largest markets, like China and Europe. … Automakers are finding themselves in make-or-break moment, either shift to innovate or become irrelevant. That’s why we see the success of Tesla in market value,” the NRDC analyst said.
By 2025, the California ZEV program requires over 16% of sales by large manufacturers to be pure zero-emission vehicles, either battery electric or fuel cell, or comply through credits market purchases.
California also adopted a ZEV advanced truck requirement this year, which will spur the development of the credit market for Amazon-backed Rivian and Tesla’s semi truck program. And 15 U.S. governors have signaled their states will pursue ZEV requirements for commercial trucks. “These are not just blue states but red and purple states as well,” Mui said.
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the state’s intention to require all new car sales be non-gasoline powered by 2035.
Automaker innovation shift is coming
Today, automakers can comply with the EV sales requirements just through passenger cars, but that will be changing, and the car companies do see the writing on the wall.
“These standards are not going down, air pollution is not reduced as a problem and governments will be ratcheting up standards over time, so one or two EV products will not be enough. They will need to have a wholesale portfolio shift in each and every product line,” Mui said.
Teslas and Rivians will not meet all of the demand so the traditional automakers will pick up the pace of innovation, especially if they want to compete in China, he said.
GM recently made a significant investment in Nikola, whose founder shortly thereafter left the electric truck company. But that big shift to innovation may continue to be a tough investment decision today for many auto players. If traditional auto companies feel more cost pressure today on the side of technology investment, they will go to the credit market to comply. And as more states add more requirements, “it will boost up the demand for these credits, which will raise the price,” Leard said.
“A company trying to make a profit and maximize profits, is can either choose tech adoption or can go to the credit market and buy from other companies, which they are already doing,” Leard said. “Definitely, in the short run, I think car companies are having a hard time justifying dumping a billion dollars into new models and the credit market is serving as way for car companies to comply and avoid large fixed investments they need to make now to bring a new car onto the market. … If car companies don’t want to introduce new models, they can just buy credits indefinitely.”
For the zero-emission credits, it will continue to be “a seller’s market,” Leard said. While he says traditional auto companies are moving in the right direction, with projects coming in future years like Ford’s electric F150 pickup truck and the electric Mustang Mach-E, “The big boys, the Fords and GMs, these companies are still kind of far from really getting a good high-selling electric vehicle on the market.”
And that seller’s market will be Tesla’s market for the foreseeable future.
“They are far behind Tesla introducing popular, affordable electric vehicles … so Tesla and other companies introducing EVs will really be cashing in on these markets and the ZEV programs will become a lot more stringent in the next 5 to 10 years,” Leard said.
Tesla’s credits strategy
Even if the market ultimately does work to push more companies to make and sell more EVs, as it should, with the percentage of sales that have to be ZEV going up over time there will be car companies that don’t have enough sales to not buy credits, Leard said. “They will have to go to Tesla, and say ‘we really need those credits,’ and that will bid up prices.”
In the first two quarters of 2020 combined, Tesla had $780 million in credits’ revenue, but to put that in perspective, Tesla had roughly $12 billion in revenue in the first half of the year.
With record volumes for Tesla deliveries expected in Q4 2020 as well, though much of that due to the China factory ramping up, CFRA expects Tesla to be a net seller of these credits for years to come.
Nelson is estimating $560 million for Q3 and $670 million in credits’ revenue in Q4. “Directionally, it will be up over the next two quarters, but it’s more of a guesstimate. I don’t think anyone has a really good handle where it comes in, except that it will be higher,” he said.
“It doesn’t make-or-break revenue, but it certainly helped increase profit margins,” NRDC’s Mui added.
Ultimately, Tesla knows that depending on a credit market is not building a long-term sustainable, and solid profit margin, auto business.
“They really want to have a credit market as an extra bonus on top of other healthy profit margins,” Leard said.
What Tesla wants to show investors is that it can make a consistent profit, or at least avoid consistent losses, without depending on the credits. Its CFO Kirkhorn has indicated as much, saying after its big Q2 credit market revenue that over time the company expects the ZEV trading to fade away as a financial resource for the company.
“Analysts complain and the bears question the earnings quality because so much is driven by RECs,” said CFRA’s Nelson. “We view the credits market as operating efficiently and it is separate issue from the lack of predictability in forecasting earnings. Tesla takes all the risk and has many other hurdles to overcome and high fixed costs and it is a capital-intensive business with high barriers to entry,” he said.
The Tesla stock analyst said Musk & Co. are approaching the business the right way: not expecting the credits to be an earnings driver in the future as other OEMs ramp up.
We don’t manage the business with the assumption that regulatory credits will contribute in a significant way to the future.
Zachary Kirkhorn TESLA CFO
GM, for one, is planning to be all-EV in the future. Nelson said his view is that Tesla is buying time to lower their battery costs so they can widen their competitive gap in terms of range of EVs and cost and build a better moat versus other manufacturers.
“That’s what they are trying to do. They are not trying to run a business based on the sustainability of EV credits. They are not assuming zero-cost revenue continues going forward,” Nelson said. “Could it use more transparency? Absolutely, but that will come with time and Tesla disclosure can improve. … The entire street would agree they could do a better job providing guidance on the credits and quarterly revenue.”
On the company’s Q2 earnings call, Kirkhorn responded to the latest analyst question about RECs — focused on the fact that margins without the credit revenue would have been much lower over the prior year without them — by providing what Nelson said was more disclosure about the future of this revenue source than Tesla has given in the past, even if it remained less than detailed.
“I’ve mentioned this before in terms of regulatory credit. … we don’t manage the business with the assumption that regulatory credits will contribute in a significant way to the future. I do expect regulatory credit revenue to double in 2020 relative to 2019, and it will continue for some period of time. But eventually, the stream of regulatory credits will reduce.”
For now, at least, difficulty measuring Tesla’s success down to the dollar-of-revenue source won’t get easier when it comes to the RECs, but it will be easy to measure Tesla’s success in other automakers being forced to pay Musk’s company for selling EVs and racking up credits.
“We fully expect some automakers to take a slower path,” Mui said, but he did cite one compelling reason for car companies to move more quickly to making and selling EVs: “They won’t advertise this, but you can bet that every company, whether GM or Toyota or FCA, does not want to pay Tesla to eat their lunch.”
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Photo courtesy of Ignacio Malapitan III (Wikimedia Commons)
This will support the 8.9 GW of new wind power capacity expected to be added by then.
Southeast Asia’s wind power will require at least $14b investments by 2030, energy research & consultancy WoodMackenzie said.
The investments will support 8.9 gigawatts (GW) of new wind power capacity that is expected to be added between 2020 and 2029.
“Currently there are about 20.7 GW of planned wind power capacity in the pipeline, but we think less than half or 8.9 GW will be realised by 2030. The coronavirus pandemic has slowed development in 2020, as border closures delay equipment transportation and prevented foreign technical staff support in these nascent Southeast Asian markets,” said Wood Mackenzie principal analyst Robert Liew.
With the growing power demand, governments around the region are setting renewable energy targets to diversify their energy mix to be more energy self-sufficient.
To date, Vietnam is leading in Southeast Asia’s race to add wind power capacity, accounting for 66% of new capacity that is expected to be added by the end of the decade.
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Amelia, a Credit Suisse chatbot
The consulting firm, known for its bold calls in global banking, is outlining the bank of the future. Making it a reality is another matter.
Banks pay McKinsey handsomely for audacious, frequently transformative strategy ideas. Mega-mergers and acquisitions or a complete pivot of business models aren’t uncommon. McKinsey’s consultants are banking on technology and specifically artificial intelligence or AI, in its most recent study.
Specifically, banks should bake the emerging technology into their processes, in a bid to set free as much as $1 trillion in annual savings, McKinsey said. «To compete successfully and thrive, incumbent banks must become ‘AI-first’ institutions, adopting AI technologies as the foundation for new value propositions and distinctive customer experiences,» the study said.
The AI tools listed by McKinsey are a combination of eight measures spread from client-facing projects to so-called back-office functions:
1. «smile-to-pay» facial scanning to start a transaction 2. micro-expression analysis with virtual loan officers 3. biometric recognition through voice, video, and print 4. machine learning for detecting fraud patterns and cyber hacks 5. chatbots for basic client service requests 6. humanoid branch robots to serve clients 7. machine vision and natural-language processing to scan and process documents 8. transaction and risk analysis in real-time
The tools equip banks with offerings that clients expect, and make firms competitive for a far more digitally-based future, according to McKinsey.
The tools listed by McKinsey aren’t new. The various technologies are already in use here and there, but artificial intelligence hasn’t been widely applied by financial services firms yet. McKinsey pinpoints three main weaknesses at banks, which spend billions annually on their information technology.
Old «legacy» systems which require extensive maintenance and renewal, fragmented data, and outdated operating models that hurt collaboration between business and technology teams. The pandemic has stepped up digital engagement in general, while major technology companies entering financial services are a looming threat.
Choice Vs Necessity
The solution McKinsey proposes is difficult to roll out in an advisory-based approach. To completely bake AI into the process, banks need to transform themselves at several different levels: 1. technological set-up, to meet client needs (the key is «personalization») 2. technological set-up to select and deliver products (the concept of intelligent algorithms working more effectively than client advisors) 3. massive renewal and reinforcement of core technology and data infrastructure (keyword: cloud) 4. establish a platform business model; technology isn’t enough to break down banks’ silos and hierarchies
McKinsey, which has been known for apocalyptic predictions, emphasizes that it isn’t enough for banks to dabble in AI. «For many banks, ensuring adoption of AI technologies across the enterprise is no longer a choice, but a strategic imperative,» the study’s authors write.
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Members of the public in Japan will get vaccinated against the new coronavirus for free, according to a health ministry policy approved Friday by its advisory panel, in a bid to curb serious and fatal cases of infection.
The Japanese government is trying to secure enough vaccines by the first half of 2021 to administer to all members of the public, having earmarked a budget of 671.4 billion yen.
It has agreed with British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc to receive vaccines when successfully developed, and is also negotiating with U.S. firm Moderna Inc for a supply.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will also submit a bill to amend the country’s immunization law to an extraordinary Diet session expected to start later this month, so that the state can redress patients and pay damages instead of companies in case a vaccination causes serious side effects.
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Japan is considering further relaxing entry restrictions for visitors from overseas as early as next month. | AP
Speculation is rife that, in a long-awaited move, Japan is readying to relax its strict entry restrictions on foreign nationals to allow more new visa applicants to seek entry clearance.
Citing several government sources, several nationwide media outlets reported Wednesday that in as early as October the country will start allowing entry for residents with permission to stay more than three months and international students, regardless of where they come from. However, the planned change will not cover tourists.
Under the current travel restrictions, which have been met with harsh criticism from Japan’s foreign community and international business groups, travelers from 159 countries and regions have been denied entry in principle. From September, Japan has been allowing its foreign residents to seek re-entry permission without strict preconditions, albeit under strict entry procedures. However, entry permission for new arrivals has been granted only in limited situations.
According to the government officials quoted in the reports, Japan is planning to expand the scope of areas subject to relaxed entry restrictions and further loosen restrictions for travelers from 16 countries, mainly in Asia, where the pandemic is deemed to be relatively under control.
Over the past few months, Japan has conducted negotiations toward resuming business travel with 16 countries, including Australia, China, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea.
So far, Japan has resumed business travel with countries including Thailand and Vietnam and has resumed short-term business travel with Singapore. In September, Japan also eased restrictions for travelers from Taiwan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, allowing long-term residents, such as expatriate workers, to travel back and forth between Japan and those regions.
On Wednesday, government officials quoted in the media reports said the changes will allow foreign nationals from other regions to travel to Japan to engage in cultural activities, provide medical services or carry out educational activities. The government is also moving toward relaxing entry restrictions for privately financed international students.
During his regular news conference Wednesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato stressed that the government has so far taken steps to ease travel restrictions while making sure such moves wouldn’t result in a spike in coronavirus infections.
“We will continue to earnestly consider the optimal ways to resume travel including allowing in new (foreign) arrivals while preventing an increase in coronavirus infections,” Kato said. “Nonetheless, in our further decisions we will take into consideration the (COVID-19) situation.”
According to an Asahi Shimbun report, following the changes to the existing travel restrictions, Japan is aiming to accept up to 1,600 international arrivals per day from the 16 countries with fewer infections, while allowing up to 1,000 arrivals daily from other regions. These limitations do not apply to Japanese nationals.
The entry restrictions, which were introduced April 3 as temporary measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus into Japan and have since been updated throughout the pandemic, left thousands of people residing in Japan unable to travel. They have also left in limbo thousands of people seeking entry under new visas as related proceedings have been halted since April.
Kato did not specify when exactly the restrictions will be loosened and did not elaborate on eligibility for entry.
The proposed changes, however, will likely be delayed for regions with higher numbers of infections, and government arrangements, which require coordination between ministries overseeing the procedures, may also stall the process.
Even though earlier in September the government relaxed travel restrictions for foreign nationals already residing in Japan, the revision sparked concerns that even legal residents may face deportation upon their return due to unclear and strict requirements that differ from those applied to residents with Japanese passports.
Upon arrival, all foreign nationals traveling to Japan are required to undergo coronavirus testing and observe a 14-day quarantine period. From September, all foreign travelers, including those with a legal residence status, are also required to submit proof they were tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to their departure for Japan.
With increased international travel, the government aims to secure a daily testing capacity at international airports of about 20,000 per day from November.
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The 2006 Ford Super Chief concept wasn’t electric, but it could run on hydrogen, which is close. Photo: Ford
An all-electric Ford F-150 is on its way and I get the feeling that Ford thinks its customer base fears change. This is probably wise.
1st Gear: Ford Isn’t Saying It’ll Be Cheaper To Buy
Ford dumped a lot of news about the F-150 EV today. The company said it’s building a $700 million facility to build it, as the Freep reports:
Ford Motor Company revealed Thursday an audacious plan to build a $700 million plant at the Rouge complex that would create the first all-electric F-150, the nation’s best-selling vehicle.
While Ford had mentioned a significant planned investment in southeast Michigan previously, this is the first time the company has confirmed its location and announced a new plant.
The main news to me is the PR attack for this vehicle. Ford seems to be going for questions of practicality over style, interest, or design. Automotive News has a big explanation:
While the company wouldn’t provide specific figures, Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president of the Americas and International Markets Group, said the lifetime cost of ownership of the electric F-150 will be roughly half that of the current-generation vehicle. The lower estimate is based off zero gas and oil usage, low electric charging rates, lower maintenance costs and increased vehicle uptime, Ford said.
The new details are part of Ford’s effort to position the F-150 EV as a purpose-built work vehicle that can provide numerous benefits to fleet operators as well as traditional retail customers. The automaker has long been the leader in the lucrative full-size pickup market but will face increased competition from EV makers Tesla, Rivian, Nikola and others in the coming years.“While other electric pickups are competing for lifestyle customers, the all-electric F-150 was designed and engineered for hardworking customers that need a truck to do a job,” Galhotra told reporters ahead of an event announcing a standalone assembly facility for the vehicle.
If you’re pressing this hard on practicality, either you know the design is so interesting that you don’t need to sell it at all, or it’s so dull and boring that you need to pitch on any other angle to help it along.
2nd Gear: House Dems Trying To Figure Out Why Trump-Gutted NHTSA Rules Are Delayed
NHTSA safety rules have been delayed and your representatives want to know why, as Reuters reports:
The delayed rules include rear belt warnings, revisions to vehicle defect reporting requirements, child restraint side impact tests, requirements for automakers to e-mail recall notices and provisions that make it easier to install child safety seats. Many of the rules have been delayed by more than four years.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, along with U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Lisa Blunt Rochester, asked the Government Accountability Office to study the NHTSA research and rulemaking process “to identify factors contributing to delays.”
Under President Donald Trump, NHTSA has never had a Senate-confirmed administrator — the first time in history the agency has gone so long without a permanent head. It has been more than a year since the White House had a nominee pending.
In 2012 and 2015, Congress directed NHTSA to implement numerous safety mandates but lawmakers said “NHTSA has failed to implement nearly 20 congressionally mandated rulemakings, reports, and research initiatives by their statutory deadlines.”
I would think that part about Trump leaving NHTSA headless would have something to do with this but I’m not a political analyst.
3rd Gear: Cadillac Dealers Will Need To Invest $200,000 For Upcoming EVs
The switchover to EVs ain’t cheap, and that’s true for car dealers as much as it is for car companies. It’s more than some will want to take on, as Automotive News explains:
Cadillac on Wednesday told its 880 U.S. dealers that they will need to invest at least $200,000 each on electric vehicle chargers, tooling and training to continue selling the brand’s vehicles beyond 2022.
“Our dealer council did say there may be a few dealers that don’t necessarily share the Cadillac vision,” [Rory Harvey, vice president of Cadillac sales] said. “We believe that most dealers will.”
Charging stations are among the biggest portions of the $200,000, which Harvey called the “entry ticket cost” for dealers as Cadillac’s EVs begin to arrive. High-volume retailers might need to spend more than that, he said, and expenses could increase as the brand introduces more EVs, necessitating more chargers and tooling.
4th Gear: Here’s Nikola’s Problem
The business model of Tesla is, in large part, getting Elon Musk on stage to overpromise some wild tech that is still yet to come so that investors dump money into Tesla the company. Actual car production is related, but not directly.
What’s fun to see is when other companies try this same strategy. What they are missing is the power of celebrity, so everyone calls bullshit on it. This seems to be the case with Nikola at the moment, as dug into in an excellent deep-dive by the Financial Times. Here’s the opener:
As strobe lighting lit up a former railway shed on the outskirts of Turin, Trevor Milton took to the stage. It was December 2019 and the founder of fledgling truckmaker Nikola was enjoying the proudest moment of his life, unveiling an investment by Italy’s CNH Industrial.
Dwarfed by the electric Nikola TRE truck, he described how “we now have production lines ready to go”.
There was only one problem: it was not true. Close to a year later, the assembly line at Iveco’s plant in the German city of Ulm is still not complete and the prototypes are being built by hand. Finished Nikola trucks will not be made until the final months of 2021.
Just how many of Mr Milton’s claims are false has become the talk of investors worldwide after a short-seller’s report alleged Nikola was an “intricate fraud”.
Now the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice are looking into the company, a stock market sensation that this summer surpassed Ford in value without having sold a single vehicle.
5th Gear: World’s Largest EV Battery Biz To Spin Off
LG Chem is spinning off its electric car battery business, which I hadn’t realized was the largest in the world. Take that, Panasonic. Per Reuters:
South Korea’s LG Chem, a supplier for Tesla Inc. and General Motors, said Thursday it plans to separate its battery business into a new company as the electric vehicle market takes off.
The move came after LG Chem swung to a profit in its EV battery business in the latest quarter. It expects further profitability thanks to growing demand from European automakers and more sales of cylindrical batteries used in Tesla cars.
Neutral: Will The EV F-150 Look Interesting Or Just Like An F-150 With No Face?
I’m expecting Ford to make the EV F-150 as dull as possible and it will be a bust. Pickup truck buyers are conservative, but they are also showy in a way. They don’t want to go through all that hassle and not have the neighbors know they went all-electric.
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Japan’s power sector is under pressure to reform pricing rules of the country’s power capacity market auction, given unexpectedly high prices in the recent first auction.
The contract price for the first auction, which was for power generation capacity available in the April 2024-March 2025 fiscal year, settled at ¥14,137/kW ($134.45/kW) for 167.69GW. This was around 50pc more than the ¥9,425/kW of the net cost of new entry (net Cone) and just below the ceiling price of ¥14,137.50/kW.
The auction result has surprised small-scale power retailers, as the contract price reflected higher reciprocal billing made by a few power generators. The first auction was carried out in a single price auction system, which allowed all winners to issue the same contract price.
The current auction rule allows power generators, bidding for a power capacity started up before March 2011, to bid at relatively high prices assuming that maintenance costs are included in the bid. This will cover the deduction for the pre-March 2011 capacities from the deal price, about 42pc for 2024-25 and gradually reduced to zero by 2030-31. The rule will reduce the burden on small-scale power firms during transition.
Japan’s registered power retailers are obligated to pay winning power generators based on the contract price during 2024-25, through Japanese power agency the Organisation for Cross-regional Co-ordination of Transmission Operator (Occto).
Most bids that are close to the contract price were made by the reciprocal bidding to collect the deduction in the deal price, which boosted the contract price for all winners, the electricity and gas market surveillance commission under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) said. Bidding at prices above the net Cone accounted for 11.7pc of total bids, while bids at zero yen were 78.5pc.
The commission also disclosed that 9,290MW, or 5.5pc of total contract capacity, including 5,960MW for oil-fired capacities, 2,840MW for LNG-fired capacities and 480MW for others, were bid at prices higher than ¥14,000/kW.
Small-scale power firm Ennet has criticised the contract price to be an unacceptable level, estimating that its cost burden would rise to ¥25bn based on the 2024-25 price.
The commission has prompted Meti and the Occto to rethink the current rules for the transitional measures and reciprocal billing ahead of the next year’s power capacity market auction, such as the validity of a single price auction for reciprocal bidding. It also suggested that the authorities should review how to calculate maintenance costs.
The mechanism aims to encourage investment in power generation plants by securing capacity and funding in advance, given an increase in unstable renewable power sources. It is unclear which power capacity has won the auction. But bids included 41,260MW coal-fired, 70,940MW LNG-fired, 13,420MW oil-fired, 7,040MW unclear, 290MW renewable, 13,310MW hydropower, 21,380MW pump-storage power capacity, Occto said.
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Macquarie takes forward the first transaction in Japan through its Green Investment Group (GIG) platform
Macquarie’s Green Investment Group will form a joint venture with Iberdrola to co-develop a 3.3 GW portfolio of offshore wind projects
The portfolio consists of six projects, three of which will utilise floating offshore wind foundations
Macquarie Group Ltd today launches its Green Investment Group (GIG) platform in Japan and announces a new joint venture with leading global energy company, Iberdrola. Through the joint venture, the partners will co-develop a 3.3 GW portfolio of six fixed bottom and floating offshore wind projects in Japan.
Macquarie has a longstanding commitment to Japan’s renewable energy sector and has supported the country’s ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2030 since 2013, through the development of 3.7 GW of offshore wind and solar projects. This is the first transaction to be delivered by Macquarie through its Green Investment Group platform in Japan.
Macquarie’s Green Investment Group is a leading global investor and developer of green infrastructure assets with a mission to accelerate the green transition. To date, GIG has supported 16 offshore wind projects globally, representing almost 5.5 GW of capacity in construction and operations, and is currently developing c. 8 GW of offshore wind capacity across Asia.
The offshore wind projects within the portfolio were initiated, and have been developed to date, through Macquarie’s renewable energy platform, Acacia Renewables. Iberdrola will acquire Acacia Renewables and take forward the existing offshore wind development pipeline as a joint venture. GIG will hold an equal share in the six projects alongside Iberdrola, providing development and commercial advisory services to the portfolio.
Under Iberdrola’s ownership, Acacia will focus on the development of offshore wind projects, and its existing onshore wind development business will be taken forward by GIG.
The joint venture brings together GIG’s significant offshore wind expertise and long-term commitment to the Japanese market with Iberdrola’s technical capabilities and operational excellence. This is GIG’s second joint venture with Iberdrola. The partners currently co-own the 714 MW East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm, based off the UK’s Suffolk coast.
“Macquarie’s Green Investment Group has been rapidly expanding its global footprint, and I’m delighted to now be introducing the platform to the Japanese market. By operating under the GIG brand, we’re firmly cementing our commitment to accelerating Japan’s energy transition. Jun Ohashi, and his existing team of green energy specialists, will continue to take forward our activities in Japan, bringing deep expertise to both the Japanese market and this joint venture. Our partnership with Iberdrola is set to have a profound impact on Japan’s offshore wind market, and I’m looking forward to continuing our successful relationship.”
Mark Dooley Global Head, Green Investment Group
“Over the past seven years we’ve worked closely with local stakeholders and highly respected Japanese companies to deliver stable, safe, reliable low carbon energy to communities across Japan. Our partnership with Iberdrola enables us to take that work to the next level, and I’m in no doubt it will have a catalysing effect on the growth of Japan’s offshore wind industry.”
Jun Ohashi Managing Director, Green Investment Group, Japan