#ford

More auto marriages have ended in divorce

Auto mergers were once thought of as the best things since sliced bread. Massive operating capacity leverage, shared platforms to reduce cost and a reduction of R&D spend per vehicle. The word “synergy” gets bandied about more than Casanova whispers “I love you“on Valentines Day! Yet why is the auto industry littered with divorces from these romances?

Lets list them.

Daimler bought Chrysler in 1998. Divorced in 2007.

Daimler alliance with Mitsubishi Motors founded in 2000. Divorce in 2005.

Daimler alliance with Hyundai founded in 2000. Divorce in 2004.

Honda – Rover JV. Started 1980. Divorced 1994

BMW – Rover – Started 1994. Deceased 2000.

Nissan – Renault – Started 1999. Currently providing real headaches due to Carlos Ghosn saga. Nissan wants full independence

Ford forms Premier Automotive Group (PAG) comprising Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo, Lincoln and Jaguar. Set up in 1999.

Ford sells Aston Martin in 2007.

Ford sells Land Rover & Jaguar to Tata in 2008

Ford sells Volvo to Geely in 2010.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA) formed in 2014 – including Fiat, Abarth, Chrysler, Jeep, RAM, Dodge, Lancia, Maserati & Ferrari brands.

FCA spins Ferrari off in 2016.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but one can be guaranteed that more money has been lost in auto mergers in aggregate than made. Daimler paid $45bn for Chrysler. Almost all of the Mercedes profits plugged the losses of Chrysler. Mercedes quality suffered through cost cutting sending it down toward the bottom of surveys. Daimler’s shares lost over $80bn in market cap as this disaster unfolded.

FCA and Nissan/Renault have been amongst the more successful marriages but global markets have turned many a honeymoon period into separation with fights over custody.

Forming a merger at the top of a cycle seems fraught with risks. Global auto sales are slowing. Renault and Fiat bring a lot of overlap in product lines. Nissan is such an unclear part of the puzzle.

One can argue that synergies which will lower the costs of future production have merit. Investing in battery technology does make sense across multiple product lines.

The biggest problem for the auto industry is that should a slowdown hit mid-merger, which brand suffers the hits? Which marketing team gets culled? Which R&D projects get scuppered? Too many cooks spoil the broth is the end result. There is no way a merger can be locked down in a short timeframe unless one of the parties is facing bankruptcy and has no choice but to comply. That is why Nissan-Renault worked.

Renault-FCA would be better conceived after markets have imploded. Marriages built on tough times stand a far bigger chance of survival than those that are built when things are the rosiest. Shareholders will be the biggest losers if conceived now.

If the Green New Deal bans air travel…

…CM looks forward to catching a train to Hawaii.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also intends to get every fossil fueled powered car off the road in a decade. The US has 270 million registered vehicles, the overwhelming majority being petrol powered. The US sells 16-17mn cars a year (sadly slowing). Therefore in the US, 16 years would be required to achieve that target. That’s before taking into account auto maker EV capacity.

Global EV sales were 2.1mn last year. So her plan would take 128 years. That’s unfair as capacity would grow. Let’s assume auto makers could conceivably increase capacity by 2m every 2 years (plants take 2 years to build and those poor Congolese child slave laborers will be run off their feet digging for cobalt to go in the batteries) then conceivably 30mn.cumulative EV units could be built over 10 years. That’s 11% of her goal. Let’s not forget the fossil fuels required to power auto factories to satiate this plan not to mention the steel that goes into the bodies.

Global auto production is c.80mn units. That assumes that the world’s auto makers will snub the ROW to meet her demands.

Socialist mathematics is never quite up to the task. Is Ocasio-Cortez was a true patriot she’d demand GM, Ford & Tesla be the sole products that consumers are allowed to buy to support domestic jobs. They’ll need them because she’ll be causing the lay offs of a shed load of Boeing line workers if planes are banned.

When she finally gets into the Oval Office we should look forward to her catching Ground Force One from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Station to travel the country and tell Americans how much better things have become.

A new low

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Today was a dark day for America. Despite both Ford & Kavanaugh putting forward seemingly credible cases, they were washed aside for the most sickening display of partisan politics. One could almost picture fiendish crowds awaiting the direction of the Roman Emperor’s thumb. How sad that the two people with the most to lose were treated as punching bags by despicable senators. Social media forums were nothing more than ferals chanting obscenities in a colosseum. Sick, sick, sick! No dignity on display.

The questions lobbed by both Democrats & Republicans for the main part were a clear display of making one’s mind up beforehand. What a farce. It was blood sport. It had little to do with seeking the “truth” rather trying to use reprehensible tactics to confirm or deny Kavanaugh. Ford & Kavanaugh may as well have been road kill. Neither side cared for the testimony of those that opposed their preformed views.

Sexual assault is a heinous crime. Period. True victims of it can suppress traumatic memories for decades. The statute of limitations may well be a convenient out clause for perpetrators in law, but sufferers shouldn’t need a deadline to reveal those inner demons. How many people have chosen to take their own life because they can’t deal with the shame?

Some basic questions.

Why would anyone be in the least bit surprised for Kavanaugh to fight his corner after being smeared with such serious defamatory accusations? Even if he is proven not guilty of those crimes his reputation has taken untold hits. If he is found to be guilty then he ought to be punished to the full extent of the law. However was his testimony any less believable? He asked for an investigation immediately after the news broke on Ford’s claim. Yet here were senators grilling him to demand one. Do they listen?

Ford too. She would be risking a great amount to go in front of a Senate Committee and lie. It is a punishable offence. Would she really seek to go into a viper pit and take the trouble to invite unsolicited attacks on her? Yet why is no one prepared to corroborate her evidence? Afraid of the repercussions?

However it struck me, as a victim of sexual assault myself at age 13, as to why Ford needed to read her story from a scripted page. I can unequivocally state every detail of what happened to me without notes. I could explain it repeatedly over and over again. Even years or decades apart, nothing would change. The face of the man that did it almost 35 years ago. Where. What time. What happened. The lot. I only came out with it several years ago but such would be the emotional pain that she shouldn’t have needed notes. Not accusing Ford of lying, just something that appeared strange to me. Real victims require no preparation. It’s burned in the memory. Was alcohol a factor? People may deal with trauma in different ways. That was the only thing that put a question mark against authenticity.

Why did Democrats not raise the other allegations against Kavanaugh with respect to indecent exposure and rape gangs until it was raised by their opposite numbers? Why did they drag Renate’s name through this hearing? A person not even party to the whole sordid affair gets her name blasted in front of millions. And discussing flatulence – could the question be so irrelevant?

The stink (no pun intended) of all of this is the timing of many allegations. As CM had written earlier, Feinstein seemed to pull this joker out of the pack to cause maximum damage to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Had she been a true fighter for the rights of supposed rape victims, why wouldn’t she seek to immediately take it in closed session to protect confidentiality of Ford and do the right thing. No, the letter was leaked to the press and all of a sudden Ford was thrust into the boiling cauldron. There was plenty of time to act.

Yet Grassley and other senators rattling off the words of former Senator Joe Biden and his claim of the irrelevance of FBI investigations was a futile attempt to confirm their man. Once again, it had nothing to do with Kavanaugh or Ford. To be honest one had to feel for Kavanaugh at times in that he was not after platitudes from Republicans. He wants his name cleared and undoubtedly wants his reputation restored. I defy anyone accused of such horrible things not to feel upset.

CM, like most are none the wiser on guilt. So many had made up their minds well beforehand. The only thing absolutely for certain was the unbecoming behaviour of that rabble. It was utterly disgusting. Neither side could claim any victory, let alone Phyrric.

The only thing anyone should be praying for is to never witness something so appalling again. Justice should be served through the correct procedures. Yet politicians only proved today that they are utterly self serving and more evident was the wake up call for all Americans about those who supposedly represent them.

Musk channels the Black Knight?

It has become apparent that the SEC & Musk had a deal which would see him removed from Tesla yet his lawyers have rejected it at the last minute because he’d rather fight the charges. One could argue in favour of his bravery to appeal against what looks to be a very open and shut case about breaching probably the most basic of errors in standard reporting to the exchange to ensure fairness.

Maybe he feels that he is only going to get a slap on the wrist? In the 63 odd charges laid out against individuals by the SEC for reporting violations in 2018, the average fine has been $75,000. Hardly a ripple to Musk’s net worth.

The bigger risk for Tesla shareholders if Musk loses in court against the SEC and is forced out (to be honest his board should demand it) will be losing a figurehead who at the very least has managed to make a company with no profits, monster debts and questionable actions worth more than Ford, FCA & GM combined. Betting against Musk has been a dangerous game. He may well be teflon coated but it remains questionable whether he can strap himself to his reusable rockets and escape the fraud charges.

Yale Law School students fail their most important test

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Yale Law School is supposed to be one of the most prestigious places one can graduate. However the multitude of students who staged a sit down protest over Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct just failed one of the most important tests in the very subject they wish to practice – the presumption of innocence.

Despite holding next to no credible evidence to base their judgement at this stage nor have any witnesses come forward, these students have shown blind prejudice. It may well turn out that Kavanaugh is found guilty of the allegations. However he like they are equal under the law until proven guilty.

Nonetheless it seems these students have no compunction. They are clearly so poisoned with partisan politics that they are willing to convict a potentially innocent man of a crime he may not have committed. These students are the very same future justices they vehemently protest in the man they attack.

Or could it be they are guilty of being irrational teenagers/millennials at university who think social justice allows for a kangaroo court? So devoid of understanding how the real world works. Either way, their protest shows how brainwashed and lacking in the ability to think for themselves to stage a protest based on such flimsy evidence which has conveniently rolled out to stall his confirmation hearing.

Maybe they’d dazzle their professors by stating their concerns in “law” in what they’d be looking for to ensure “both” sides of the story we’re heard? Or at the very least how they’d represent either side based on the evidence to date? Alas, no. Best just jump on the despicable Democrats band wagon and wish Kavanaugh gets smeared so he isn’t confirmed as a SCJ (the real aim).

While in no way justifying sexual harassment/assault on any level, looking back over CM’s university days three decades ago should witnessing the Forestry students conduct drinking games while sitting stark naked in the refectory and drinking their own vomit from an old Adidas Rome sneaker or even worse “animal acts”  to get back in the game worthy of a full police investigation? Or do we put it down to kids being stupid as many get their first grips with alcohol? No one in CM’s year of students (male or female) who saw it ever made a big deal of it then or now. We most likely laughed at the cringeworthy nature of it all.

Yet this is the future. Shame on the Yale Law Faculty for not teaching these kids the most important values of fair trials. Perhaps evidence of how the professors could be more radical than the students. True colours?

Kavanaugh may yet be found guilty but at the very least let him and Christine Blasey Ford set out their evidence.

Finally, will  these same students protest if Ford is outed as lying? Of course not!

Is Musk losing it?

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Is Tesla CEO Elon Musk losing it? More senior resignations from accounting and HR this week  reveal more cracks in the automaker. He emailed a journalist, calling him a “mother f*cker”. He went further to say he hoped the cave rescuer he called a “”pedo” sued him because a UK man who is single and spent so much time in Thailand must be a child rapist.

He rattled off he had “secured” funding of $420/share to go private and then all of a sudden he didn’t, prompting the SEC to investigate. He was then on radio with comedian Joe Rogan toking what is reportedly a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. Are these the actions of a man running a $50bn market cap company?

Clearly his board can’t control him.  With the shares collapsing and bond prices falling, refinancing will become problematic. Chief  Accounting Officer Dave Morton quit the company after revealing his concerns about the various obstacles Tesla faces.

Tesla’s Chief People Officer, Gabrielle Toledano, took leave in August and said she wouldn’t be returning to Tesla.

Musk has been a genius and visionary to get Tesla where it is today. Yet he is a direct victim of his own hubris. Sleeping under boxes with Tesla bankrupt written on them to living on the factory roof to rattling off about production hell while accusing families of drivers dead due to over reliance in a system he aggressively promoted.Tesla was technically asking for suppliers to refund a portion of the monies they were paid since 2016 to the EV maker so it could post a profit which is borderline accounting manipulation in an attempt to give the impression of an ongoing concern.

He also complained at the lack of support in the media despite being called out on this nonsense.

Musk’s compensation is also linked to a $650bn market cap, which is effectively saying to the market that his company will be worth more than Daimler, BMW, VW, GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Renault, Fiat-Chrysler, Ferrari and Porsche combined. Just read that last sentence again. Do investors honestly believe that Tesla which consistently misses and is going up against companies that have been in the game for decades, seen brutal cycles, invest multiples more in technology and forgotten more than they remembered will somehow all become slaves to a company which has no technological advantages whatsoever?

The Tesla story is on the ropes. Expect more mega-releases on new products to try to keep the dream alive and the disciples faithful. I guess ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ worked for The Beatles…

Do arms suppliers have a moral compass?

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40 murdered children in Yemen.  The Saudi logic behind the attack was that the Houthi rebels were training these kids as soldiers. A far-fetched claim. Yet where has the condemnation of Saudi’s role on the UN Human Rights Council been? Countless civilian deaths in Yemen at the hands of the Saudi military are nothing new. Where was the outrage then? The decades long proxy war has only accelerated since the assassination of former Yemeni dictator President Ali Abdullah Saleh in December 2017.

CNN looked to put the blame of this latest tragedy at the feet of US defence companies. Surely the Europeans are just as blameworthy for selling the Tornado or Eurofighter aircraft that likely dropped the American ordinance on these kids? Mattis has openly criticized the Saudi attack in this instance.

Arms deals are a dirty business. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Unfortunately these dangerous toys rarely come with a “please use responsibly” section inside the box of instructions. Some might argue that in certain cases users are not of the appropriate age bracket to play with them. Bribery scandals (aka incentives) are often more notable than the weapons deals themselves. Yet have there been incidences of arms suppliers turning down multi-billion dollar contracts?

If we go back in history, the Americans refused to release the source codes to the Saudis in a potential multi-billion dollar US jet fighter sale that would have allowed certain weapons (the US weren’t prepared to supply) to be fired. Even if the Saudis bought the US jets and sourced the banned weapons on the black market they wouldn’t be able to be fired.  Instead the Saudi’s bought the Panavia Tornado because the Europeans were happy to sell a similarly capable platform that the US refused to sell. UK defence contractor BAE Systems won a long term maintenance contract known as Al-Yamamah as a result of this Tornado deal. Why not bash the Brits for taking advantage of the US putting regional security ahead of arms sales in Saudi Arabia?

Perhaps we could question the moral fibre of the US refusing to sell the F-22 Raptor attack fighter to the Japanese. The Japanese top brass pleaded for the plane but US Congress refused to approve it claiming the billions required to redo all of the computer systems and source codes to ensure it had a lower capability than the USAF plane. The reality was more likely to prevent a leakage of its capability (something that had occurred when the Japanese ordered Aegis destroyers). The result was Japan didn’t get them even given its peaceful history post WW2.

Should we bash the Russians for supplying military hardware has been behind the deaths of over 100,000 Syrians? Or Ford for making the car that ran down people in Westminster?Or should we question the operators of these tools?

If we really want to get petty the Paveway Mk-82 bombs responsible for killing these kids were sold to the Saudi’s in a deal made in 2013 under the Obama administration. Was it Obama’s fault in allowing the sale? CM doesn’t believe he is but interesting that CNN left the period of sale out. Easier to attack the $110bn arms sales going forwards.

40 dead children is a tragedy. Arms deals are far from if ever holy. The instruments of death are sadly not always deploy in manners which are either moral or ethical. The Iranian backed Houthi almost sunk a French made Saudi frigate in the Red Sea at the beginning of last year. Several Emirati patrol boats have been severely damaged by the Houthi in the same area, the most recent incident occurring  last month. There are countless skirmishes along the Yemeni/Saudi border.

Unfortunately the Saudis and several other gulf states are key allies of the US in the proxy war against Iran/Russia. Do not expect a wholesale change in US arms deals with Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future.

In closing perhaps people might question China’s new interest in the Middle East? Many may have missed it has deployed 5,000 troops (including special forces) in Syria since 2017. Geopolitics seldom look to protect the rights of anyone other than the home side. Don’t pretend it does otherwise.