Porsche and Volkswagen are dead-set on the former’s stock-market debut, Honda is making the supply chain partnerships it needs, and the Bronco accessory business is booming. All that and more in The Morning Shift for Tuesday, September 6, 2022.
1st Gear: Well, Porsche Seems Determined
While your friends who run The Morning Shift were shaking off the dust after a long weekend, Porsche reminded us how serious it is about its long-discussed initial public offering. The sports car maker is planning to kick things off in late September or early October, though precise timing remains “subject to further capital market developments.” Capital market developments have not been wonderful as of late, but don’t let that convince you anything will stand in Porsche and Volkswagen’s way. Courtesy Reuters:
Porsche will only backtrack on its stock market debut in the event of severe geopolitical problems that would make the importance of a listing fade in comparison, the sports car brand’s chief financial officer said on Tuesday.
“You never know what will happen regarding geopolitical issues, but if a potential IPO would be stopped now, we are talking about severe problems,” Lutz Meschke said on a media call.
“By then, a potential IPO would not be a real issue,” he added.
In fact, Porsche’s acting so confident this is the right call, its CEO — who is currently Volkswagen’s new CEO — believes the IPO could jump-start global trading:
In a media call on Tuesday, Porsche and now also Volkswagen Chief Executive Oliver Blume said the listing could help revive capital markets hit by slowing global growth.
“There is a lot of capital in the market,” Blume said. “We think the Porsche IPO could be an icebreaker.
Experts predict Porsche’s valuation will fall somewhere between $60 billion at the low end and $85 billion in the best-case scenario. Experts also believe this is really an awful time to spin off the brand, executive bullishness aside. But as we’ve heard before, maximizing value isn’t really the goal here. Bloomberg’s Chris Bryant explained as much in an editorial published by the Washington Post this morning:
Indeed, this transaction isn’t so much about freeing Porsche from VW’s clutches, but rather restoring family control over a beloved asset.
Until 2008, the Porsche and Piech families owned half of Porsche (and 100% of the voting rights) but squandered that inheritance with a near disastrous attempt to takeover the much larger VW. The post financial-crisis denouement saw VW fully acquire Porsche for around 8 billion euros and left the families with a 16% economic interest in VW (the Porsche SE family holding owns around 32% of VW, and half of Porsche SE belongs to institutions).
This was a very bad trade from the families’ perspective. Porsche’s profit has surged in the past decade as wealthy customers snapped up its sports utility vehicles and warmed to its electrification strategy (the Taycan outsells the 911). Meanwhile, Ferrari NV’s 2015 stock market listing showed investors would award a premium valuation to luxury car brands with heaps of racing heritage.
The global economy probably won’t be much better in a year, and this move has spent so much time in negotiations between VW, the Porsche-Piech family and the government of Lower Saxony, none of the parties involved seem likely to let outside pressures stand in their way.
2nd Gear: Honda Inks Battery Partnership
Honda and Tokyo-based trading firm Hanwa have forged a partnership in the interest of obtaining raw materials for battery manufacturing. The deal was announced Tuesday in a press release:
To realize carbon neutrality for all of its products and corporate activities by 2050, Honda is striving to make battery-electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCVs) represent 100% of its global vehicle sales by 2040. Toward this target, Honda is planning to launch 30 EV models globally by 2030 with production volume of more than 2 million units annually.
For steady execution of its electrification strategy, Honda established a strategic partnership with Hanwa, a major trading company that has strengths in the field of resource procurement. Through this partnership, Honda will ensure stable procurement in the medium to long term, of essential metals necessary for batteries such as nickel, cobalt and lithium, positioning the mined resources secured by Hanwa at the core.
The maker of the first hybrid sold in North America is perhaps further behind on EV development than any of its domestic contemporaries. It has no plug-in hybrid on sale in the U.S., let alone battery-electric vehicle. The Prologue, built atop General Motors’ Ultium platform, will offer a stopgap, but there’s plenty of catching up for Honda to do in the interim and beyond.
3rd Gear: The Tesla 4680 Dream
One day, everyone’s favorite EV maker could shed $5,500 from the price of a Model Y battery pack. But analysts say Tesla is still struggling to realize the 4680 dry-cell battery tech that will make it possible, Reuters reported Tuesday:
The secret behind Elon Musk’s goal of selling 20 million Tesla’s a year by 2030 lies in its pioneering battery technology.
The good news is that by using bigger cells and a new process to dry-coat electrodes, Tesla could halve the cost of a Model Y battery, saving more than 8% of the car’s U.S. starting price, battery experts with ties to the company said.
The bad news is that it’s only halfway there, according to 12 experts close to Tesla or familiar with its new technology.
That’s because the dry-coating technique used to produce the bigger cells in Tesla’s 4680 battery is so new and unproven the company is having trouble scaling up manufacturing to the point where the big cost savings kick in, the experts told Reuters.
The yields simply aren’t where they need to be yet, though they assuredly will get there in time. This is another case of Tesla ramping up at a reasonable rate that would likely impress all but those with the most unreasonable of expectations.
4th Gear: This Is How Brick-and-Mortar Bounces Back
Over the weekend Automotive News published a story about how retail chains are infringing on the role formerly served by gas stations in this new EV era:
Starbucks announced in March a partnership with Volvo to build 60 fast chargers at 15 stores from Denver to Seattle by the end of the year.
Essentially, the project turns Starbucks stores into the EV equivalent of gasoline stations along the 1,350-mile route. Each location will be no farther than 100 miles apart, and the ChargePoint DC fast chargers can charge many of the latest EVs up to 80 percent in about 30 minutes.
The project is about making EV charging “as easy as getting a great cup of coffee,” said Michael Kobori, Starbucks’ chief sustainability officer.
Starbucks’ desire to install chargers in parking stalls is unsurprising, but if you think about it, stores like Ikea figure to really benefit:
Ikea is following a similar path with a recent partnership with the Electrify America charging network. The home furnishings chain said it would install fast chargers at 25 stores across 18 states.
Electrify America has a significant presence in the parking lots of Target and Walmart nationally, with more than 100 locations for each business providing charging for EV drivers. While Starbucks focused on customer convenience, Ikea CEO Javier Quiñones said climate change is another big factor.
“This collaboration with Electrify America will not only bring ultrafast public chargers to our stores for the first time, but it will also help us take a big leap as we work toward our targets to become circular and climate positive,” Quiñones said.
Consider how long your average Ikea trip is! You spend about 45 minutes perusing the showrooms, an hour in the ground level where you stock up on kitchenwares, another half hour scrambling to pull boxes of unwieldy proportions off shelves and then another half hour in line, give or take a hop over to the café for a six-pack of delicious cinnamon rolls. That’s enough to fast charge a modern EV twice over. Unfortunately, you can expect your range to be halved on account of all that flat-packed furniture.
5th Gear: Bronco Owners <3 Accessorizing
What do Crocs wearers and Bronco drivers have in common? They love to accessorize! According to Ford, the average Bronco owner drops $1,700 on add-ons from light bars and storage organizers to decals. As you’d figure, dealers love it too, says Automotive News:
When customers buy a Bronco from Steve Olliges’ Team Ford dealership in Las Vegas, they normally spend an additional $4,000 to $5,000 outfitting their off-roaders with light kits, tube doors and other accessories.
Olliges, who has sold about 700 Broncos since the SUV went on sale a little more than a year ago, said he can’t recall another Ford vehicle that has given dealers such an opportunity to increase their profits — and he plans to take full advantage. In a few months, he’ll open a 9,000-square-foot accessory shop called the Bronco Barn, which sits about a mile from his showroom and cost roughly $10 million to build.
“I definitely have Bronco fever,” Olliges, who also plans to build a standalone Bronco showroom next to the barn, told Automotive News. “I feel I could make a living just being a Bronco dealership; it’s that successful.”
The focus on accessories has paid huge for Ford especially during the early days of the pandemic, and the automaker has no plans to stop bringing new ideas to the market:
It’s likely Ford will continue to sell Bronco accessories at a high clip as the vehicle’s product cycle continues. Variants such as the Raptor and Everglades offer new possibilities.The automaker plans to add 100 accessories in 2023, including a slide-out tailgate, door storage bags and safari bar kit.“The portfolio is going to continue to grow,” [Ford global director of vehicle personalization, accessories and licensing Eric] Cin said. “We can never have enough.”
Reverse: The First Tank
Neutral: The Boost Button
It’s becoming a trend in some performance cars, plug-in hybrids and EVs to offer maybe 10, 20, 30 extra horsepower with the press of a button, for a few seconds. Admittedly I’ve never driven a car with such functionality, but the Elantra N has it, as does the upcoming Dodge Hornet. This seems annoying to me, to have to press something else to tap into power when you need it, but automakers all seem to be enamored with the idea these days. I blame Fast & Furious. Thoughts?