Newsflash: beleggers kritisch over nieuwe koers Ferrari

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+++ Vehicle deliveries in CHINA fell 3 % in May from the same month last year, but the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said it is cautiously optimistic about the market’s whole year performance. Last month, 2.13 million vehicles were sold in the world’s largest vehicle market, according to the CAAM statistics. The 3 % fall was the first in 14 months since April 2020, when vehicle sales started to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Chen Shihua, a deputy secretary-general of the association, said the fall was primarily because of a slip in commercial vehicle sales, as some buyers adopted the wait-and-see attitude because stricter emissions standards will be introduced in July. He said passenger carmakers were cutting production last month because of a global chip shortage and surging raw material prices, which affected overall sales as well. But Chen said he is cautiously positive about the Chinese vehicle market’s whole year performance. The association expected China’s overall vehicle sales to grow 6.5 % this year. A total of 10.88 million vehicles were sold in China between January and May, up 36 % from the same period last year. Despite the dip in the overall sales in May, deliveries of new energy vehicles, including electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, maintained their strong momentum. The CAAM statistics show that 217.000 units were sold in the month, soaring 160 % year-on-year. Chinese leading electric car startup Nio delivered 6.711 vehicles in May, up 95.3 % from the same month last year. The cumulative deliveries of the New York-listed startup’s 3 models reached 109.514 vehicles by the end of last month. Nio said its deliveries in May was affected by chip shortages and logistical adjustments, but it will accelerate vehicle delivery in June to make up for the delay caused last month. The startup said it will maintain the target of 21.000 to 22.000 vehicles in the second quarter of 2021. The China Passenger Car Association has scaled up its estimate of passenger NEV sales in China to 2.4 million this year, as the sector continues to gain momentum in the world’s largest vehicle market. Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the CPCA, said his confidence came from the growing sales of major NEV carmakers in the country and their increased exports to overseas markets. The CPCA’s estimate was 2 million units at the start of the year and was raised to 2.2 million in April. In the first 5 months, the wholesale figure of passenger NEVs in China was 860.000 units, or 3.5 times the figure in the same period last year. +++ 

+++ FERRARI shares traded lower in Milan as Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the sportscar maker to sell from buy, and its price target was lowered to $207 from $227. The company’s announcement of a battery electric vehicle by 2025, and the appointment of a new chief executive with a tech background, may drive the need for incremental capital spending. “Uncertainty around future capex requirements also brings uncertainty around future earnings and cash flow”, said analysts led by George Galliers. While the broader auto industry will benefit from improving production as chip shortages ease and improving end markets, the analysts say Ferrari won’t be a notable beneficiary. +++ 

+++ Hyundai and General Motors said they are pushing ahead with developing FLYING CARS , with the South Korean company expressing optimism it could have an air-taxi service in operation as soon as 2025. A GM executive said it could take until 2030 for air-taxi services to overcome technical and regulatory hurdles and reach commercialization. Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) zero-emissions aircraft, which take off and land like helicopters and carry passengers and cargo, are being developed by a number of startups as well as aircraft makers and automakers, but they face a long road to profitability. Hyundai is ahead of its previously stated timetable for rolling out air-mobility vehicles, Jose Munoz, the company’s global chief operating officer, said in an interview broadcast. Munoz, who is also CEO of Hyundai North America, previously said urban air taxis would be in operation at major U.S. airports by 2028 and perhaps earlier. He told it could possibly happen before 2025. “We see this market as a significant growth opportunity”, Munoz said, adding he was “very confident” of the technology’s development. Hyundai is developing air taxis powered by electric batteries that can transport five to six people from highly congested urban centers to airports. Other automakers developing flying cars either alone or with startups include Toyota, Daimler and Geely. “I think that there’s a long pathway here”, Pamela Fletcher, vice president of GM’s Global Innovation team, said. “2030 is probably a real commercial inflection point”. She added: “It’s a very nascent space. There’s a lot of work to be done on the regulatory side, as well as the actual technology side”. In January, GM unveiled a flying Cadillac concept. Morgan Stanley has estimated the total addressable market for urban air mobility could hit $1 trillion by 2040 and $9 trillion by 2050. In 2019, Hyundai, which has a dedicated Urban Air Mobility Division led by Jaiwon Shin, a former NASA engineer, pledged to invest about $1.5 billion in urban air mobility by 2025. Munoz said Hyundai sees its flying cars serving not only residential customers but also transporting commercial cargo. Hyundai does not want to sell flying cars as a simple transaction, but believes it can develop services around the vehicles, Munoz said. +++ 

+++ Chinese automaker GEELY will keep working on vehicles powered by methanol even though the effort may fail, chairman Li Shufu said. Zhejiang-based Geely, among a small number of automakers developing methanol-powered vehicles, is testing methanol taxis in some western Chinese cities as well as developing methanol-powered trucks at its commercial vehicles unit. Li did not offer details of the technology. He has told that Geely would expand production of methanol-powered vehicles. According to Geely’s own website, to date it has already produced and tested 10.000 methanol-fueled vehicles that have been driven over 1 billion kilometers. Some 300.000 kilometers have been driven in Iceland as part of a pilot project there. Li said Geely, which owns Volvo Cars and has a 9.7 % stake in Daimler, invested in Carbon Recycling International, an Icelandic company, to work on technologies to produce methanol with carbon dioxide, in a way to lower overall carbon emissions. “We will keep exploring methanol vehicle technologies. Of course it might fail in the end, but currently we are still working on it”, Li told an industry conference in the western city of Chongqing, without elaborating. Methanol fuel would boost China’s energy independence as the country has huge amounts of coal, which can be converted to methanol. Currently China is a major importer of petroleum. Geely’s Li has also said he expects methanol vehicles to be cleaner than gasoline models. Geely is also developing battery electric vehicles, petrol-electric hybrid cars and hydrogen commercial vehicles. China, the world’s biggest auto market, is developing electric and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Several automakers have been working on methanol vehicles. Karma and Roland Gumpert have explored fuel-cell models involving methanol. +++ 

+++ The president of GENERAL MOTORS says his company plans to announce more U.S. battery factories later this week. Mark Reuss gave no details of where the factories would be located or exactly what they would manufacture. He spoke in an interview at an IndyCar race on an island park near downtown Detroit. Company spokesman Jim Cain wouldn’t comment on the announcements, but noted GM previously stated it would build more factories to add battery capacity as electric vehicles grow in sales. GM has set a goal to stop selling internal-combustion passenger vehicles by 2035. “In the next week we’ll announce some more, and it will be here in the U.S.”, Reuss said of the new battery factories. The factories would be in addition to 2 battery cell plants that the company announced in the past 2 years, both geared to ramp up production as GM rolls out 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025, with more than two-thirds sold in North America. GM and joint venture partner LG Energy Solution already have announced battery cell factories in Lordstown and Spring Hill. The company is investing $2.3 billion to build each of the facilities. Lordstown is expected to open next year and employ 1.100 workers, while Spring Hill is to open in 2023 and employ 1.300. It’s likely the new battery plants would employ similar numbers of people, but Cain wouldn’t comment on numbers. The 2 plants under construction would send cells to 5 factories where GM plans to build electric vehicles. But the 2 factories can’t make enough to feed all of the plants if sales rise. The EV assembly plants are in Detroit-Hamtramck, Orion Township, Spring Hill, Ingersoll and Ramos Arizpe. It’s likely that the new battery plants would be close to at least some of the assembly factories. Electric vehicles now amount to less than 2 % of U.S. new vehicle sales, but they are rising and projected to grow as more manufacturers roll out additional models and the U.S. government comes out with expanded tax credits and other incentives to buy them. Bank of America analyst John Murphy raised his EV forecast to 7 % of new vehicle sales in 2025 and 20 % in 2030. Under a bullish-case estimate that includes a $10,000 federal tax credit (up from $7.500 currently with a 200.000 vehicle cap), Murphy predicts EV sales could be 25 % of the U.S. market in 2025 and 50 % in 2030. U.S. new vehicle sales typically run around 17 million per year. President Joe Biden has proposed spending billions on electric vehicle incentives and to build 500.000 charging stations by 2030. Last month, GM said it would support efforts by the United Auto Workers union to organize employees at the Lordstown and Spring Hill battery plants. Previously the company had said the joint venture with LG, called Ultium LLC, would decide on a bargaining strategy. +++ 

+++ LORDSTOWN MOTORS announced the abrupt departure of its 2 top executives and said its board found evidence of inaccurate statements, intensifying the turmoil for the electric-vehicle maker and onetime SPAC star. The company said in a statement that chief executive officer Steve Burns and chief financial officer Julio Rodriguez have resigned from the company, effective immediately. It is the latest setback for the company, which warned last week it might not have enough cash to fund development of its first truck or even survive the next 12 months if it can’t raise more capital. In March, the startup disclosed a Securities and Exchange Commission probe of its operations after a short seller said its technology was flawed and that preorders for its truck were nonbinding. Shares fell as much as 20% in premarket trading. In a separate statement, Lordstown said a board investigation concluded the company had made certain statements about vehicle preorders that did not hold up to scrutiny. “Lordstown Motors made periodic disclosures regarding preorders which were, in certain respects, inaccurate”, according to the company’s own investigation. The board concluded other allegations made by short seller Hindenburg Research in March were “false and misleading” in many aspects. The company’s lead independent director, Angela Strand, has been named executive chairwoman, and she will oversee the company until a new CEO is identified. Becky Roof, who has previously served as an interim finance chief at other corporations, will do the same at Lordstown. The exit of its 2 top executives comes at a difficult time for the company as it attempts to transition from research and development into commercial production of its first model. Lordstown, one of a slew of electric-vehicle startups that have gone public through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies, combined with DiamondPeak Holdings in an October deal that netted the startup $675 million. “We remain committed to delivering on our production and commercialization objectives, holding ourselves to the highest standards of operation and performance and creating value for shareholders”, Strand said in the statement. +++ 

+++ MOSCOW will give away cars in a prize draw for residents who get the Covid-19 shot in an effort to speed up the slow rate of vaccinations, its mayor said, as officials brought in curbs to halt a surge in coronavirus cases. The Russian capital reported 7.704 new infections on Sunday, the most in a single day since December 24. Authorities confirmed 14.723 cases nationwide, the largest one-day total since February 13. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that anyone over 18 who receives the first of a 2-dose Covid-19 vaccine from June 14 until July 11 would now be automatically entered into a draw to win a car. He said 5 cars worth 1 million roubles ($13,900) each would be given away every week. Sobyanin has publicly lamented how few residents have chosen to get the vaccine. He gave no new figures for how many have had the shot, but said on May 21 that 1.3 million out of a population of more than 12 million had received one dose. Sobyanin said on Saturday the city was repurposing thousands of hospital beds for an influx of Covid-19 patients and told residents to stay off work this coming week to help curb the spread of the virus. Sports pitches, playgrounds and other attractions inside large parks were set to be closed for a week. Bars and restaurants were ordered to close no later than 11 pm. “This is only a temporary solution”, Sobyanin said in a follow-up blog. “To avoid new restrictions and secure a sustainable improvement of the situation, we need to significantly speed up vaccinations”. Russia began rolling out its Sputnik V shot in December and it was rapidly opened up to everyone in Moscow. +++ 

+++ The sector of SMART ELECTRIC VEHICLES is picking up speed in China’s big cities, and their sales are expected to soar rapidly after 2023 when high-level autonomous features are available, said a senior executive at the country’s leading startup Xpeng Motors. “The year 2023 will be a turning point. In 2025, 60 % of new cars sold in tier-one cities will be electric ones and 50 % will have smart features”, said the startup’s founder and chairman He Xiaopeng. He made the remarks at the China Auto Bluebook forum held in Hefei. Electric cars accounted for 20 % of new car sales in metropolises including Beijing and Shanghai in the first quarter this year, up from 10 % in the fourth quarter last year. But less than half of them have such smart features as high-level autonomous driving so far. “But when they come, they will come at an unexpected speed”, said He. He estimated that smart electric cars will make up 90 % of new car sales in tier-one cities in 2028, and the figure nationwide will reach 60 % in the same year. As one of the country’s leading startups, Xpeng has been focused on smart vehicles, believing that being electric alone is not enough to stand out in the increasingly competitive auto industry. He said in 5 to 15 years, the vehicles will be much more than transport tools, just as the primary function of today’s smart phones is not making calls. “We have noticed that many of our customers will stay in their vehicles for quite a while after their vehicles are parked”, said He. +++ 

+++ TESLA is building a gigafactory in Germany that it plans to use to produce electric cars, starting with the Model Y. However, some German environmental groups are uncomfortable with the project and seek to halt the construction work. Brandenburg’s environmental authority granted the company a provisional permit for the construction. But environmental groups Gruene Liga and Nabu have objected to that permit. The groups are concerned that the gigafactory will produce highly poisonous gas.  They say Tesla has not sufficiently clarified the measures it will take to prevent the gas from escaping from the plant. Additionally, the groups say Tesla has not obtained the necessary permit to produce battery cells at the facility. The groups want state authorities to file for a suspension of Tesla’s gigafactory permit by June 16, or else they will go to court. Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney recently reiterated a Buy rating on Tesla stock with a price target of $860. The analyst’s price target implies 41% upside potential. Delaney reiterated the bullish rating after Tesla began deliveries of the Model S Plaid, the advanced version of the Model S. The car can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in less than 2 seconds, with Tesla saying it is the world’s fastest-accelerating production car. “While the market for the Plaid itself is relatively small, we believe it is an important product”, noted Delaney. +++

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