|Bid||181.55 x 22300|
|Ask||0.00 x 61000|
|Day's range||178.55 - 182.35|
|52-week range||139.90 - 185.00|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.61|
|PE ratio (TTM)||6.81|
|Earnings date||17 Mar 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||4.80 (2.67%)|
|Ex-dividend date||15 May 2019|
|1y target est||195.40|
* Fevertree falls after Xmas trading update Welcome to the home for real-time coverage of European equity markets brought to you by Reuters stocks reporters and anchored today by Julien Ponthus. Very much like their Asian peers, European stocks are holding close to the highs reached on Friday rather than moving further while Wall Street is off celebrating MLK day. There are a few spectacular moves in the UK: Fevertree Drinks is down over 20%, after the premium tonic water maker warned about subdued Christmas trading.
(Bloomberg) -- German rangers stand guard to shoo away visitors from a nondescript stretch of forest near Berlin, where a sign nearby warns of “Lebensgefahr” (mortal danger).The precautions are part of the frantic activity underway to set up Tesla Inc.’s latest assembly plant, Elon Musk’s most daring attack on the German auto establishment. Workers wielding metal detectors have started combing through an area covering some 200 football fields to search for errant ammunition lurking beneath the sandy surface of tiny Gruenheide.It’s the first stage to prepare a site that could churn out as many as 500,000 cars a year, employ 12,000 people and pose a serious challenge to Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and BMW AG. Once deemed free of World War II explosives, harvesters and trucks will roll in to clear thousands of trees in the first stage of development. The work needs to be done by the end of February to meet Tesla’s aggressive timetable. The project represents a second chance for the quiet town, nestled between two lakes on the edge of a nature reserve southeast of Berlin.Gruenheide lost out on a similar factory two decades ago, when BMW opted for Leipzig. That missed opportunity helped town officials to move quickly when Tesla expressed interest in building its first European factory in Germany, with a plot set aside for industrial use and offering easy access to the Autobahn and rail lines.Read More: Elon Musk’s German Factory Started With Love Letter From Berlin“The investment is a unique opportunity,” Mayor Arne Christiani said in his office, where a map of the Tesla project hangs on the wall. “It gives young people with a good education or a university degree the possibility to stay in our region—an option that didn’t exist in past years.”If it clears Germany’s red tape, the plant will make batteries, powertrains and vehicles, including the Model Y crossover, the Model 3 sedan and any future cars, according to company filings. The factory hall will include a pressing plant, paint shop and seat manufacturing in a building that will be 744 meters (2,440 feet) long—nearly triple the length of the Titanic. There’s space for four such facilities.Musk is taking his fight for the future of transport into the heartland of the combustion engine, where the established players long laughed off Tesla as an upstart on feeble financial footing that couldn’t compete with their rich engineering heritage. He casually dropped the news at an awards ceremony in Berlin in November, leaving the top brass of Germany’s car industry shell-shocked.“Elon Musk is going where his strongest competitors are, right into the heart of the global auto industry,” said Juergen Pieper, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Bankhaus Metzler. “No other foreign carmaker has done that in decades given Germany’s high wages, powerful unions and high taxes.”Building a factory in Europe’s largest car market is a major test of Musk’s global ambitions. Demand in the region is flat, and buyers are more loyal to local brands. Meanwhile, labor costs in Germany’s auto sector are 50% higher than in the U.S. and five times what they are in Poland, just an hour’s drive away from Gruenheide.Gruenheide TimelineEnd February: Finish tree logging before migrant birds nest March 5: Deadline for comments from nearby residents March 18: Public meeting to discuss the project Mid-2020: Construction expected to begin July 2021: Targeted start of productionOn the positive side, electric cars require less labor to build, and Germany has a deep reserve of auto experts. The location also offers the soft-power advantage of proximity to the country’s leaders.Under pressure for being slow to pick up on the electric-car shift, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government extended a welcoming hand to Musk. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier offered to try to ease regulatory hurdles that may snag construction. “There’s a lot at stake” in Tesla’s plan, he said soon after the project was announced.Musk’s incursion comes at a strategically opportune time. Riding a wave of optimism after successfully starting deliveries of its China-built Model 3 sedans a year after breaking ground on a factory there, Tesla’s stock has doubled in the past three months.Meanwhile, German peers are struggling with the costly shift away from combustion engines. Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler announced thousands of job cuts last year, when German car production fell to its lowest level in almost a quarter of a century. For Gruenheide, the planned investment has suddenly transformed the town of 8,700 people into a sought-after location. Local officials receive development proposals on a daily basis: anything from 22-story apartment towers to U.S.-style shopping malls, said Christiani, who hopes the plant will help unlock financing for public transport, schools and medical facilities.In the town hall, five thick binders are available for locals to peruse the project’s details, including 463 trucks expected to roll into the plant each day, a rail spur for train deliveries and an on-site fire brigade.Tesla still has to jump through a number of hoops. Residents have the chance to raise objections, and some have bemoaned that they’ve seen little from the company since its blockbuster announcement. Meanwhile, the local water utility warned it won’t be able to supply the site in time and raised concerns over its location in a zone meant to help protect drinking water supplies.And then the company has to carry out initiatives to protect wildlife—including scaring off any wolves in the area, relocating hibernating bats and removing lizards and snakes until construction is finished. The U.S. carmaker also has to replace felled trees.The mayor expects these hurdles to be cleared so that the first made-in-Gruenheide Teslas can roll out in July 2021.“The forest is classified as a harvest-ready, inferior pine forest,” Christiani said. “It was never supposed to be a rain forest.”—With assistance from Hayley Warren (Adds criticism from water utility in 17th paragraph.)To contact the author of this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Reiter at email@example.com, Craig TrudellChad ThomasFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) - Volkswagen AG is set to take a 20% stake in Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Guoxuan High-tech Co Ltd, two sources told Reuters, as the German firm accelerates its electric push into the world's largest auto market. The deal would mark Volkswagen's first direct ownership in a Chinese battery maker and comes as the Wolfsburg-based automaker strives to meet a goal of selling 1.5 million new energy vehicles (NEVs) a year in China by 2025, including plug-in hybrid cars. The top foreign automaker in China plans to acquire the stake in Shenzhen-listed Guoxuan via a discounted private share placement in the coming weeks, the two sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Poland's consumer watchdog UOKiK said on Wednesday it was fining Volkswagen more than 120 million zlotys ($31.6 million) for misleading customers about the emissions of its vehicles. The fine, the biggest ever given by the regulator for violation of consumer rights, is the latest chapter in a global emissions cheating scandal that has cost Volkswagen about 30 billion euros in fines, vehicle refits and legal costs, and also triggered a global backlash against diesel vehicles. "False information in advertising materials caused misinformation - they referred to Volkswagen's pro-ecological attitude, when in fact the cars were not environmentally friendly," UOKiK president Marek Niechcial said in a statement.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Renault SA pledged back in February to make its 20-year-old Alliance with Nissan Motor Co. “irreversible,” after the shocking arrest of the French carmaker’s boss Carlos Ghosn on charges of financial misconduct exposed deep rifts on both sides.That goal now looks further away than ever, with Ghosn’s dramatic escape to Lebanon and his repeated denials of the charges reopening old wounds, and neither firm succeeding in bridging the political and governance divide between France and Japan.The Financial Times reports that Nissan is ramping up contingency plans in case of a breakup — which, while financially painful and costly for both sides, shouldn’t be ruled out. With both Renault and Nissan under new management, and advocates of closer integration on the wane, time is running out to prove that this isn’t an alliance in name only.The spectacle of Ghosn holding court for several hours in Beirut last week was a grim reminder of the Alliance’s fragility. Whether you believe in his conspiracy narrative or not, the political meddling clearly ran deep: Ghosn pointed to France’s doubling of its voting rights in 2015 as the seed of Japanese resentment against Paris’s out-sized influence within the partnership. The fact that Paris was dreaming of a full-blown merger, while the Japanese wanted nothing of the sort, shows that the fundamental issues around control and governance go well beyond Ghosn.Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard’s efforts to show that the Alliance is bigger than the man who forged it haven’t really paid off, either. Conversations about how to save the partnership have failed to get past the question of whether it should become more equitable: Renault, in which the French state has a 15% stake, owns 43% of Nissan, while Nissan owns 15% of its partner. Nissan has sought more sway in the alliance, including a reduction in Renault’s stake, given the Japanese company’s bigger size and superior earnings performance in recent years (though the latter has started to tail off). Meanwhile, Renault’s bungled attempt last year to strike a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV managed to both annoy the Japanese and benefit its French arch-rival Peugeot SA, the company that Fiat is now set to merge with.Politics and governance are one side of the equation — but what about money? It seems strange to let a corporate partnership fall apart after 20 years when it’s clearly been a financial success. Renault and Nissan’s Alliance sells over 10 million cars a year, almost on par with industry leaders Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp., and they’ve been avidly working together to find more synergies. The companies said in 2018 that their annual cost savings would exceed 10 billion euros ($11.1 billion) by 2022. In an industry that’s facing growing spending requirements amid the shift to electric cars, that’s an obvious advantage.But even the financial benefits of the Alliance require a harmonious partnership. To achieve those savings, Renault and Nissan need to ramp up common manufacturing platforms and roll out more jointly-developed projects. The companies have pledged to build two-thirds of all cars sold on common platforms and three-quarters of all cars sold using common power-trains (up from one-third) by 2022. That looks hard in an environment where, according to the FT, the view inside Nissan is that the relationship is “toxic.” And the fact that both Renault and Nissan have recently moved to replace their CEOs shows how tough the post-Ghosn era has been.Today, the best argument for keeping the Renault-Nissan Alliance together, like many an unhappy marriage, is the cost of breaking it up. At a time when national pride is trumping economic self-interest, that’s not good enough. Until those in charge can prove there is an incentive in closer cooperation, it will be hard to convince stakeholders on both sides that this is an irreversible alliance.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Car industry head describes estimate produced by a study as 'extreme' and 'unrealistic' as it is due to be presented to the German government.
(Bloomberg) -- Volkswagen AG and Nissan Motor Co. are among automakers planning new plants in Ghana to target West Africa’s 382 million people. Their challenge: Finding banks that will offer loans to make new cars affordable.In a country where about 70% of imports are second-hand, new car ownership is rare, said Believe Alorbu, who sells older models shipped from the U.S. at half the price of a new one.“People will sometimes leave the plastic wrapping on their seats” when they buy new cars, she said at her dealership in the capital, Accra. “Even if the government increases tariffs on used cars, people will still not be able to afford new ones if they don’t get access to financing.”Less than 5% of new car sales are financed by banks, according to the Ghana Automobile Dealers Association. In some cases, lenders demand employers agree to redirect part of the purchaser’s salary toward the debt, or that the owner take out insurance to cover a default. Interest rates of 22%-30% also make loans “largely” unaffordable, said Koketso Tsoai, an auto-industry analyst at Fitch Solutions.Once their facilities are running, VW, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan, and possibly Renault SA will need to contend with second-hand cars like those sold by Alorbu. Ghana’s government is trying to make it more attractive with planned import duties on second-hand cars of 35%, from 5%-20%, and fiscal incentives that improve as the companies move from assembly to local production, with tax holidays of as long as 10 years. It has also pledged to promote regional exports.“We don’t look at it only for today,” Nissan Africa Chairman Mike Whitfield said by phone from Cairo. “We continue to see Africa as the last frontier left in the automotive market, West Africa being a key part of it.”About 10% of West Africa’s population are able to spend more than $11 a day, according to data compiled by World Data Lab. It is this group that the industry is targeting on a continent that adds some 10 million new consumers annually. By 2030, Africa’s middle- and upper-income class is expected to exceed 300 million of the world’s 4-billion consumer market, the data shows.‘Huge Opportunity’Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, is also preparing for future growth by replicating its South African car-financing business in other parts of the continent, including Ghana.About three quarters of auto loans still go to companies, Patrick Koduah, head of vehicle and asset finance at the company’s Stanbic Ghana unit, said in an interview. “There’s a huge opportunity to grow personal demand.”About 30,000 passenger vehicles were imported into Ghana in 2018, according to estimates from Fitch Solutions. Ghana had 7,073 new vehicle registrations in 2018, of which 4,268 were passenger cars, according to the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers.While the government has said its auto-incentives program would include the creation of an asset-based vehicle financing component, a trade ministry spokesman couldn’t provide details on how it would work.Pan-African lender Ecobank Transnational Inc. said in an email that the average car loan in Ghana amounts to $30,000. Banks typically demand a high down payment and limit loans to no longer than five years if they do grant credit, while dealers sometimes allow buyers to spread repayments over six months.More than 90% of new vehicle sales in South Africa, the continent’s biggest market, are probably financed, Thomas Schaefer, the head of Volkswagen’s local unit, estimated. The country had a penetration rate of 132 passenger cars per 1,000 people in 2019, compared with 22 per 1,000 people in Ghana, according to Fitch Solutions.“If I would take out the financing options in South Africa, our market would disappear,” Schaefer said.The Wolfsburg-based carmaker plans to start a ride-hailing service in Accra, modeled after a similar one in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to ensure its output is absorbed.Regional Gateway“The assumption is that in Africa, out of the more than 1 billion people, there are only about 100 million people who can afford a new car, but you may have a couple 100 million people who need to go from A to B and a bit of money in their pocket,” said Schaefer. “You need to tap into this market.”Nissan sees its assembly plant starting by the end of the year, depending on when Ghana’s auto-policy is signed into law. Volkswagen plans to start by April. Toyota, which described Ghana as “an extremely important market in West Africa,” declined to share details about its strategy.Ghana won’t be the first country to position itself as a gateway to West Africa. Nigeria announced a very similar policy in 2013. However, after a change in government and years in the legislative system, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the bill in July last year. Automakers have also signed agreements with Ivory Coast’s government.“Ivory Coast has already taken some steps in the right direction, which aim to limit the import of used vehicles,” said Leonce Yace, managing director of Ivorian lender NSIA Banque. The company, one of the key players in vehicle finance in the country, saw a 41% year-on-year increase in auto loans in 2019.“It is not about who should be the hub, it’s about who offers the best deal,” said Chris Ndala, managing director of CICA Motors Liberia, a subsidiary of the French group CFAO SA.The car companies are beginning small in Ghana, with 5,000 units a year or less, and are expected to partner with local firms.“We’ll all go as the business and the market goes,” Nissan’s Whitfield said. “The critical thing is that it’s starting.”Alorbu, the second-hand dealer, doesn’t see the used-car business getting displaced anytime soon.“They make it sound like used-car dealers are the enemy, but we are helping the consumer,” she said. “If the government is not ready or willing to provide financing, selling new cars will be a problem.”(Adds detail of tax incentives in fifth paragraph)\--With assistance from Tsuyoshi Inajima, Leanne de Bassompierre and Ekow Dontoh.To contact the reporter on this story: Yinka Ibukun in Accra at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andre Janse van Vuuren at email@example.com, ;Stefania Bianchi at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vernon WesselsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
LAS VEGAS/SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's SK Innovation Co Ltd plans to build a second electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in the United States and is considering expanding another factory in Hungary to meet soaring demand for EV cells, its chief executive told Reuters. Kim Jun also said he expects more Asian manufacturers to make batteries in the United States instead of importing them to avoid tariffs and meet demand from U.S. automakers locally. SK Innovation's second plant at its under-construction production site in the U.S. state of Georgia could have a capacity equivalent to 10 GWh, Kim said, declining to identify customers.
Volkswagen Group said on Thursday its vehicle deliveries last year were slightly above the previous year's level, revising up an earlier forecast which predicted 2019 sales would be level with the year before. Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess issued the revised forecast during an investor presentation in New York. Volkswagen is due to release 2019 earnings on March 17.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk was apparently excited enough about Tesla Inc.’s prospects in China that he was moved to dance, sending the electric-car maker’s shares to new highs.The chief executive officer awkwardly waltzed across a stage at Tesla’s new factory outside of Shanghai on Tuesday during an event to hand over the first Model 3 sedans to public buyers. Musk, 48, also elaborated on previously announced plans to produce the upcoming Model Y crossover at the plant.“Ultimately, Model Y will have more demand than probably all of the other cars of Tesla combined,” Musk said, reiterating a prediction made during the company’s last earnings call. He said Tesla will reveal more in the future about advanced manufacturing technologies the company is applying to Model Y.Tesla shares rose 3.9% to close at a record $469.06 on Tuesday. The stock has surged 84% since Oct. 23, when the company reported a surprise profit and said the Model Y will launch this summer, months ahead of schedule. Its market capitalization is approaching General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co.’s combined.The kickoff of Model 3 deliveries to local customers marks a major step in Musk’s global push for electric-vehicle domination and heralds what could be the dawn of real competition in the world’s largest EV market. Local production is allowing Tesla to drop prices of the car, narrowing the price premium relative to models from Chinese manufacturers NIO Inc. and Xpeng Motors, and undercutting global giants such as BMW AG and Daimler AG.Musk also said Tesla plans to open a design-and-engineering center in China so that it can eventually develop a new car there.The company named after famed inventor Nikola Tesla, who died 77 years ago today, will now need to avoid a repeat of the glitches it experienced in its original car factory in California. Tesla went through months of what Musk called “production hell” as it ramped up Model 3 production starting in 2017. After consistently falling well short of the CEO’s ambitious targets, the electric-car maker burned through billions of dollars and came within weeks of running out of money.The China plant is already assembling 1,000 cars a week and aims to double that rate over the next year, Song Gang, the manufacturing director at the facility, said on Dec. 30. The company has said it plans to ramp up production to 150,000 Model 3 vehicles a year, or about 3,000 a week, when the first phase of the factory is completed.Tesla plans to boost production capacity to 500,000 a year after the following phase, though it isn’t clear when exactly Tesla expects to achieve those goals.Charm OffensiveMusk’s charm offensive in China has paid off. Originally just a muddy plot about a 90-minute drive away from Shanghai’s city center, the China plant has quickly come online since it broke ground at the start of 2019. It took twice as long for Tesla’s Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada, to begin churning out batteries.Tesla has been winning various concessions from local authorities ranging from approvals to preferential loans — all the more notable given the trade war with the U.S.Various government officials including Mayor Ying Yong and Zhu Zhisong, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai municipal government, were among the dignitaries attending Tuesday’s event. Vice Mayor Wu Qing said at the event that no foreign company has invested in a bigger manufacturing facility in the country.The locally built Model 3 was included last month on a list of vehicles qualifying for an exemption from a 10% purchase tax in China. It also qualified for a government subsidy of 24,750 yuan ($3,560) per vehicle.Price CutsThe subsidies have helped Tesla cut prices, with the company announcing last week it would reduce the starting cost of the Model 3 by 9% to 323,800 yuan, or 299,050 yuan after incentives. Prices could go down further, as people familiar with the matter have said Tesla is considering further lowering the price of the sedans by using more local components and reduces costs.About 30% of the parts now used at the Shanghai facility are sourced locally, and Song, the manufacturing director, said on Dec. 30 that the company plans to increase that to 100% by the end of the year.Those prices put Tesla closer to some models from domestic EV makers, such as Xpeng Motor’s latest P7 sedan, which starts at 240,000 yuan. NIO’s SUVs start from 358,000 yuan, though that price doesn’t take into account subsidies.Volkswagen AG’s Audi plans to start selling nine new-energy vehicles in China during the next two years, with more than half of them being pure battery-electric models. The first electric model, the e-tron, debuted in November at a starting price of about 693,000 yuan.Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz made its EQC available in October starting at 580,000 yuan. BMW plans to start building the iX3 crossover in China next year and is working with a Chinese partner to electrify its Mini model.\--With assistance from Dana Hull.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Chunying Zhang in Shanghai at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org, Craig Trudell, David WelchFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
HAMBURG/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Volkswagen is seeking more than 100 million euros ($112 million) in damages from former supplier Prevent, it said on Tuesday, adding it had filed a first claim for one of its subsidiaries. The row dates back to 2016, when suppliers ES Guss and Car Trim stopped supplies shortly after being acquired by Prevent in a bid to raise prices, causing production losses at six of Volkswagen's factories in Germany. Volkswagen has filed a first claim for its Skoda unit with the Brunswick regional court, it said, adding that the Dresden higher regional court would determine which courts are responsible for further damage claims.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.German car production fell to its lowest in almost a quarter of a century as Europe’s biggest economy suffers from the fallout of a global trade war.Automakers including Volkswagen AG, BMW AG and Daimler AG produced 4.66 million vehicles in German factories last year, the weakest since 1996. The country’s VDA car lobby, which published the figures on Monday, said the 9% decrease was a result of waning demand from international markets.The industry is set for more tough times this year. The VDA predicted global car deliveries will drop to 78.9 million vehicles from 80.1 million in 2019.Germany’s status as a global manufacturing powerhouse has been built on the carmaking industry, but pollution concerns -- intensified by Volkswagen’s 2015 diesel-cheating scandal -- trade conflicts, and slowing economies have all weighed on demand. Daimler, Volkswagen and parts supplier Continental AG are slashing jobs to cut costs.At the same time, the industry has to spend billions of euros to develop cleaner vehicles, self-driving features and counter the emergence of ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc., which has a market value equivalent to Daimler.Germany is particularly exposed to regulatory demands for cleaner vehicles because brands such as BMW, Porsche and Audi focus on power and performance. That prods the country’s automakers to explore unusual projects.At the CES electronics show in Las Vegas, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unveiled a concept car inspired by the film Avatar. The electric-powered vehicle features lateral crab-like movement and biometric controls to allow “human and machine to merge.”Germany’s domestic autos market grew 5% last year after buyers registered 3.6 million new cars, the VDA said, the most since 2009. However, the industry body has said the market is likely to contract this year and has predicted that job losses will accelerate amid the transition to electric cars, which require fewer parts and less labor to assemble.The country cemented its recently acquired lead over Norway as Europe’s biggest electric-vehicle market after selling 63,281 e-cars last year, according to latest data from the country’s Federal Motor Transport Authority, or KBA.(Adds global forecast in third paragraph, Mercedes concept car in seventh)\--With assistance from Oliver Sachgau and Chris Reiter.To contact the reporter on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew NoëlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk’s decision to assemble Tesla Inc. cars in China required years of planning and billions of dollars in spending. Now comes the challenging part.The electric Model 3 sedans rolling off the assembly line at Tesla’s Shanghai plant — its first outside the U.S. — face a market where total vehicle sales are expected to fall for a third straight year. After capturing about 5% of China’s car sales, electric vehicles have been losing steam as the economy cooled and the government scaled back subsidies for buyers.That could spell trouble for a launch that investors are watching closely for evidence that Tesla has what it takes to go global. A slow start for sales of its made-in-China cars would put more pressure on the unprofitable manufacturer’s finances, giving Musk little room for missteps to support a stock that’s hovering at an all-time high.“Tesla is rushing to start deliveries before other global brands bring in more EVs,” said Zhang Yan, an analyst at research firm LMC Automotive in Shanghai. “It’s an attempt to conquer the market.”EV sales plunged 42% in China in November as the government handouts that lowered sticker prices receded significantly. That means Musk and his team are looking at a market that’s very different from mid-2018, when the decision to build a Shanghai plant was announced. Back then, the industry’s sales were growing at a roughly 100% clip.The tough market could mean that Tesla sells just 21,000 China-built Model 3s this year, according to LMC Automotive. That would qualify as a sluggish start given the Shanghai facility already builds more than 1,000 cars a week and plans to double production during the next year.The forecast takes into account Tesla’s history of production delays, potential supply-chain constraints and the complexity of manufacturing high-quality cars at scale, LMC Automotive said.Yet others are more optimistic. Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy AutoForesight, said Tesla could sell about 100,000 Model 3 cars. Wang Lei, a Shanghai-based analyst for China International Capital Corp., said Tesla could sell a combined 120,000 Model 3 and Model Y vehicles.Given Tesla’s volatile share price, investors will be hyperfocused on the Shanghai ramp-up.Success in boosting China sales could propel Tesla to as high as $500 a share, a Morgan Stanley analyst, Adam Jonas, said in a December note to clients. Tesla climbed to a record $443.01 on Friday after rising 26% last year. Analysts expect the stock to fetch $311.41 in 12 months, based on 31 target prices compiled by Bloomberg.So far, the China project has gone smoothly. Musk’s visits helped the company get preferential bank loans and swift approvals for construction and manufacturing. And while the subsidies are being phased out, the locally built Model 3 still qualified for a sizable handout of as much as about $3,550 per car.But success requires winning over the consumer. A majority of China’s EV purchases — about 70%, according to Sanford C. Bernstein — so far have been to the government and “policy-direct” customers, including taxis, mobility services and other government-affiliated fleet operators. Such buyers typically forgo premium cars like Teslas in favor of cheaper, local models.“It’s a distorted need,” said Robin Zhu, an analyst with Bernstein. “And the market won’t change much in the next two-to-three years.”Cars that cost less than 100,000 yuan ($14,300) make up more than half of EV sales in China, according to Bernstein. Tesla last week cut the starting price of the Model 3 to 323,800 yuan from 355,800 yuan -- a 9% reduction. Subsidies lower the starting price to 299,050 yuan.“To paraphrase Elon Musk, demand may be insanely high, but people literally cannot afford to buy them,” Zhu said.To be sure, there is a segment of China’s massive population that can afford Teslas. But the Palo Alto, California-based company won’t be the sole global EV brand targeting those buyers.Volkswagen AG’s Audi plans to start selling nine new-energy-vehicle models in China during the next two years, with more than half of them being pure battery-electric. The first electric model, the E-Tron, debuted in November at a starting price of about 693,000 yuan.Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz EQC electric model became available in October and starts at 580,000 yuan. BMW AG plans to start building the iX3 crossover in China next year and is working with a Chinese partner to electrify its Mini model.There also is a slew of local upstarts targeting the premium segment. Electric SUVs from NIO Inc. and Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology Co., or Xpeng Motors, are priced aggressively and already have found fans.“It will be challenging for carmakers to differentiate themselves and be competitive,” said Stephen Dyer, managing director at Alixpartners, a global consulting firm.Tesla, a pioneer in electric cars, probably will have an edge for the next one-to-two years before competition starts catching up, said David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar Inc. in Chicago. Tesla’s vehicles have an industry-leading driving range to go along with the brand appeal.Boding well for the company, registrations of Tesla vehicles in China rose 14-fold to 5,597 in November. While growing from a low base, the figure suggests healthy demand for its cars even though all the models available thus far have been the pricier imported versions of the Model 3, and the higher-end Model S sedan and Model X SUV.Tesla also doesn’t have to worry about selling traditional internal-combustion vehicles. Its global rivals operate expensive gas-guzzler plants in China and need to make sure their new EVs aren’t cannibalizing more profitable gasoline-powered lineups.“Other multinationals, carrying the legacy of traditional automakers, came into the market reluctantly and lately. They are jumping in the pool they never wanted to swim in,“ said Bill Russo, chief executive officer of consulting firm Automobility Ltd. in Shanghai. “Tesla is not a conflicted company. They don’t have to choose.(Updates with analysts’ target price in the 10th paragraph)\--With assistance from Angus Whitley.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Chunying Zhang in Shanghai at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ville Heiskanen, Michael TigheFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc. is back on top -- this time, it seems, with some real staying power.The Model 3 maker delivered a record 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter and has begun production at a new factory near Shanghai. With the stock soaring to close Friday at an all-time high, Tesla’s market capitalization finished the week just short of $80 billion -- more than double Ford Motor Co.’s stock value. And the Model Y, its next crossover SUV, is slated to launch this summer.“Tesla is close to escape velocity,” said Gene Munster, managing partner of the venture capital firm Loup Ventures. “Demand for electric vehicles is real, and people are stretching to buy a Model 3. Everything is beginning to gel.”That’s saying a lot for a company famous for taking big steps forward, only to then slip steps back. Take 2019: after finishing strong the year before, Elon Musk decided to dismiss 7% of the workforce. First-quarter deliveries were dismal. Customers and employees alike were whipsawed by a shifting retail strategy, and the chief executive officer remained a magnet for controversy.But after years of drama, there’s a growing sense among investors that Tesla is finally hitting its stride. The company reported a surprise third-quarter profit in October and the shares have been on a tear ever since.Established automakers have taken their shots at Musk with so-called “Tesla Killers,” but no serious competition has materialized thus far. U.S. sales of General Motors Co.’s fully electric Chevrolet Bolt plummeted 47% in the fourth quarter and finished down down 9% for the year.During Tesla’s last earnings call, Musk said he thinks the upcoming Model Y will outsell the S, X and 3 combined, without giving a time frame. He announced plans in November to build a third auto factory, near Berlin -- the backyard of German automakers BMW AG, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG, whose initial electric offerings haven’t drawn much demand.China, the world’s largest auto market, is the big wild card for this year. Tesla said Friday that battery production for its cars there began in late December.Local pack supply is the gating factor standing in the way of the plant boosting output. Tesla said it’s already managed to assemble almost 1,000 cars that are ready for sale. With more battery production, it will be capable of 3,000 a week, according to the company.“Shanghai deliveries should be the next catalyst to drive volume growth,” Ben Kallo, a Robert W. Baird analyst with the equivalent of a buy rating on Tesla, wrote in a report. “Importantly, the factory appears to be ramping faster than we expected.”In 2012, the year Tesla launched the Model S sedan, the company delivered just 2,650 cars. Seven years later, that was up to 367,500 -- 138 times as many.Loup Ventures’ Munster said Tesla should meet what he says are Wall Street’s expectations for 2020. Analysts on average are predicting 463,000 deliveries for this year -- another 28% annual jump.“If Tesla can successfully launch the Model Y,” he said, “they will have fully arrived.”To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at firstname.lastname@example.org, Anne ReifenbergFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Volkswagen in 'Dieselgate' settlement talks with 400,000 German ownersCarmaker has compensated VW owners in US and Australia over emissions-rigging scandal and faces class action in UK
Volkswagen on Thursday said it was in talks to discuss a settlement with German vehicle owners who are suing the carmaker over excessive pollution caused by VW's diesel cars. In 2015 the carmaker admitted to using manipulated engine management software to mask excessive pollution levels in its diesel cars, sparking a raft of prosecutions and lawsuits that have led to at least 30 billion euros in legal costs and fines. "Volkswagen and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations vzbv have agreed to enter into discussions regarding a possible settlement," the carmaker said.
Porsche offers a slew of courses, or experiences, at its Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, as well as a new facility out in Los Angeles. I decided to take the Porsche 911 GT3 experience for a spin.