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Why Automakers Try To Slow & Stifle The EV Revolution

Why Automakers Try To Slow & Stifle The EV Revolution


Revealed on November 11th, 2018 |
by Zachary Shahan

November 11th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan 

This can be a repost from two years in the past. The story is kind of the identical at present. The unique title was, “What goes on in the minds of auto execs?”

I’ve had a number of enjoyable lately whereas highlighting 50 “tips” for slowing the electrical automotive revolution and writing about what the top of gasmobiles might seem like, however the discussions left some individuals scratching their heads. Why would automakers rigorously attempt to delay a change to electrical automobiles? Why would they not attempt to create engaging electrical automobiles as soon as they have been proven how in style Tesla’s fashions have been?

I’ve written about this loads of occasions earlier than, corresponding to right here, right here, and right here. The brief abstract is that this:

A transition to electrical automobiles threatens the “financial health” of typical auto corporations. Many shareholders can be pissed to see a lot funding in gasoline automotive know-how “wasted.” Executives who constructed their careers on engine experience would turn out to be a lot much less invaluable. Automakers would should shift a lot of their enterprise technique, operations, factories, and staff. They’d be tossing many extremely valued patents & information down the drain.

Nevertheless, that’s all only a easy abstract. It hit me that a extra detailed theoretical rundown would assist extra individuals to visualise the issue — to know why BMW is making an attempt to match the 330e to the Mannequin three in ads, why Ford is boasting about vary on a plug-in hybrid that has solely 22 miles of electrical vary and is promoting its automobiles utilizing Captain America, why most electrical fashions bought within the US aren’t out there in most US states, why no automakers aside from Tesla have automobiles with superfast charging, why Chevy isn’t creating this automotive (which a shopper designed) and BMW isn’t creating this one (which a shopper designed), why Fiat’s CEO informed individuals to not purchase the Fiat 500e, why Toyota continues to be hyping hydrogen, and so forth.

With the lengthy preface out of the best way, let’s dive right into a thought experiment.

Chevy Jolt

Numbers (… Pretend Ones)

I’m not going dig via many years of investments from huge auto corporations, however under are some pretend numbers from automaker “Bord” to play with with a view to get rolling….

  • Bord has 84 factories
  • $84 billion has been invested into these factories
  • 18 of those factories (~21%) are engine factories
  • 6.5 million Bord automobiles have been bought in 2017 for $150 billion in income and $7 billion in internet revenue
  • Bord had a 6.5% automotive gross margin in 2017

Primarily, Bord is making 6.5 million automobiles a yr ($150 billion in income, $7 billion in internet revenue) utilizing factories that it put $84 billion into (with $17 billion going into the engine factories alone). After including in money used for different overhead, operations, and so forth., Bord walks away with a wholesome little revenue annually and sends a few of that again to buyers.

The Groundbreaking This fall 2018 Bord Shareholder Letter

Now, let’s say that Bord’s CEO sees that electrical automobiles are the longer term, that they’re already primarily aggressive, and that probably the most logical factor for the long-term well being of the corporate is to modify to electrical automobiles quick. Mr. Constable C. Smuggins, CEO of Bord, tells shareholders in a surprising quarterly letter:

We’re planning to modify over 100% to electrical automobiles within the subsequent three–5 years. We might do it sooner, however it takes time to create these new EV fashions and ramp up battery manufacturing capability. Doing it later can be silly, as a result of individuals gained’t need to purchase our gasmobiles in 5 years compared with our electrical automobiles or different automakers’ electrical automobiles.

Sadly, because of this our engine factories (which we put $17 billion into) are quickly going to be ineffective. Properly, the land and constructing shells will nonetheless be helpful, however nothing we presently have or do inside might be. These factories should be utterly revamped to supply batteries and electrical motors. In an effort to do this, we might want to make investments one other $17 billion. Truly, we might want to make investments $33 billion on prime of that $17 billion for further battery factories with a purpose to hold producing the identical variety of automobiles we bought in 2017. This can be a good factor, as a result of we could have a aggressive benefit within the business from our $50 billion value of battery factories. Don’t fear about us selecting the best batteries and manufacturing machines, although — we’ve received this.

Our different factories will must be reworked to help the various new fashions we’re introducing based mostly on new electrical powertrains. That’s one other $50 billion.

We have now a money stability of $50 billion. Quite a bit, eh? Sadly, that’s clearly not sufficient to cowl this fast transition. (If we might someway unfold the transition out by 2–three many years, that may be a lot simpler, however we don’t see that as smart.) So, we might want to borrow some huge cash, and we’re going to reduce off dividend funds for a number of years. No worries — we’ve received you coated in 2025 or 2030, and we all know you’re long-term buyers who additionally care about humanity and need to see a fast transition to wash know-how that helps to cease pricey and horrendous international warming, so we’re positive you gained’t bail on us.

To be trustworthy, although, we don’t know rather a lot about batteries and don’t have expertise making compelling electrical automobiles, so we hope we don’t screw up an excessive amount of whereas pouring $150 billion into this. (Oh, did I point out that we have to do some large employees re-training, R&D, arrange new provide chain partnerships, license new tech, and purchase a bunch of patents?) By the best way, yeah, um, our hundreds of engine-related patents are principally ineffective now, so we’re simply going to toss them within the trash.

I do know you’d somewhat get a number of extra dividend funds earlier than we leap in, however frankly, everybody within the business sees the sunshine and is now going to do that, so we’ve to get shifting quick.

Again to Actuality

Yeeeeah. … Most shareholders of GM, Fiat Chrysler Cars, Ford, BMW, Nissan, Daimler, Toyota, Hyundai, and Honda wouldn’t be thrilled to listen to such plans, and lots of would attempt to cease the transfer. (Volkswagen is getting away with one thing barely approaching this because of the pickle it landed in by being an enormous cheater and liar. Fortunate VW!)

General, the query is: For those who’re within the footwear of those giant automakers, how do you dump your big investments (sunk prices) and aggressive benefits (that are centered across the inner combustion engine) with a purpose to bounce head first into a brand new know-how? How do you inform shareholders that you simply’re going to go from making billions of dollars a yr in income to borrowing cash for a number of years? How do prime executives who constructed their careers on engine experience suck it up and say that it’s time to retire the previous soiled beast underneath the hood? Robust questions.

I do know I demonize automakers quite a bit for doing a horrible job on their EV efforts and promotion, nevertheless it’s not likely about demonizing them — the objective is to push them right into a higher strategy, and to assist encourage different shoppers to do the identical. However once you take a look at the challenges they face, this simplistic concept turns into much less potent. That leads into a subject for a coming article — how I feel these corporations can and will proceed. First, although, I by no means obtained to the primary query within the title: “What goes on in the minds of auto execs?”

Who the hell is aware of? These individuals range in character, profession focus, and tradition fairly a bit. How a lot they perceive that electrical automobiles are the longer term, how a lot they perceive the existential menace electrical automobiles current to their companies, how a lot they consciously assume by way of the funds or run spreadsheets on the matter, how a lot they care about international warming and air air pollution, and the way a lot they genuinely attempt to delay an electrical automotive revolution in all probability differ an incredible deal.

In case you discover any extra fascinating tidbits on how any of their minds work and what they’re considering, drop us a observe. Within the meantime, fanboy/fangirl or not, I feel it’s a must to give some because of Tesla. If Tesla wasn’t round, the transition can be going far more slowly, the plans of automakers can be even a lot worse, and there’d be lots much less inspiration on this market and on the planet generally.


50 Ideas For Slowing The Electrical Automotive Revolution

The Shift To Photo voltaic, Wind, & Electrical Automobiles Is Too Monumental To Overstate

Tesla Gigafactory 1 — Truthfully, What’s The Massive Deal? (At Essence, It’s Not The Numbers)

What’s Truly New In The Electrical Automotive World?

An outstanding video presentation by Tesla cofounder Marc Tarpenning that was right here within the unique article has been faraway from YouTube. References to it are minimal, however it was probably the greatest shows I had seen on the subject of this story.

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Tags: BMW, Chevy Jolt, daimler, GM, Honda, humor, Hyundai, Nissan, Tesla, Tesla Mannequin three, volkswagen

Concerning the Writer

Zachary Shahan Zach is tryin’ to assist society assist itself (and different species). He spends most of his time right here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He is additionally the president of Necessary Media and the director/founding father of EV Obsession and Photo voltaic Love. Zach is acknowledged globally as an electrical car, photo voltaic power, and power storage professional. He has introduced about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of masking photo voltaic and EVs, he merely has loads of religion in these specific corporations and seems like they’re good cleantech corporations to spend money on. However he gives no skilled funding recommendation and would slightly not be chargeable for you dropping cash, so do not leap to conclusions.

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