We will have our usual meeting at Mi Pueblo Restaurant, (3911 Tinley Dr, High Point,) February 19th, at 7:00 PM. Please let me know if you are coming by posting a comment here, or by email or text. See you there!
Author Archives: David Allen
Jamestown Christmas Parade photos from WFMY
Here’s a video summary of the parade courtesy of WFMY:
Another ominous rumble in the news
German car industry faces ‘day of reckoning’
Financial Times, 11/25/2020
Days later, Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler and Volkswagen’s Audi brand announced more than 20,000 job losses, in the first real signs of the huge human cost of the sector’s transition from combustion engines to electric vehicles.
“The auto industry is in the midst of a far-reaching upheaval,” said Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess, whose company is seeking to reinvent itself as a world leader in battery-powered cars.
“No one will survive in the form they exist today,” predicted Ralf Kalmbach at consultancy Bain & Co, who has spent 32 years advising German carmakers.
It is estimated that the German car industry, which directly employs 830,000 people and supports a further 2m in the wider economy, will be forced to plough some €40bn into battery-powered technologies over the next three years.
“In this industry you can only cut jobs in a crisis,” he added. “Deep down, they all know that. They all know they’re going to have to, they are just trying to postpone the day of reckoning.”
When staid, and pro-auto publications like the FT start talking about massive job cuts in Germany’s auto industry, things are looking dire indeed.
Here is the key point of this article, in my opinion:
The market for petrol and diesel engine components will decline at 7 per cent a year, according to a recent McKinsey study.
If the market for ICE is going to decline by “7% a year”, it follows that gasoline/diesel would likewise decline in the EU market. This is an existential crisis for the oil industry in that market. A crisis I expect they will not take lying down.
Remember, he gets paid for this “advice”
CNBC’s Jim Cramer, a longtime Tesla critic, says he might be about to buy a Model X — because his wife says so
Back in 2011, with Tesla Inc. shares trading down around $22, CNBC’s “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer told a caller to “cut her losses” and unload her position. “Nothing there. Don’t like that stock,” he said.
Booyah! The stock closed Monday at $336.34.
So, for those of you playing at home, assuming she had 1,000 shares, she walked away from a gain of $314,340 by listening to this chowderhead.
Apparently something funny happened over the past couple of days: “I took a ride in a Tesla this weekend that made Lisa say, that’s it, we are buying one. Enough already,” he tweeted on Monday.
This “investment expert” has been advising people about Tesla stock, and yet he never bother to check out the product?
Cramer has had plenty to say about Tesla and its boss, Elon Musk, along the way. Earlier this year, he said Musk is like P.T. Barnum and it’s “annoying.” Before that, he floated the idea of Musk being removed as CEO. More recently, he panned Tesla’s new Cybertruck as “a bit of a bust.”
Hmmm… It seems that Cramer’s job is to talk about companies he doesn’t understand, and advise gullible people about whether they should invest their money, or short the stock. Talk about “one born every minute”.
He explained in a later tweet directed at Musk that the Model X is the version that he took for a spin and it was a “fantastic ride.”
The time for excuses and argument is over
“There are no excuses left”:
Why climate science deniers are running out of rope
The Guardian, 10/17/2020
Audible in the background is the drumbeat of new science, data piling on data showing how close we are coming to disaster. In 2007, I watched the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change emerge bleary-eyed from an all-night session in Paris where they faced down vested interests to warn emissions must peak by the early 2020s to avoid dangerous climate change. By 2013, in the fifth report in Stockholm, they predicted it would be 30 years before the 2C threshold would be breached. Last year, in the starkest warning yet, the IPCC gave us 12 years to reverse direction.
Our climate knowledge has increased vastly in 15 years. No one can now plausibly say there is not enough data, or that we lack the technology, or that saving the climate is too expensive. All of these pretexts have been exploded by patient scientific work. There are no excuses left and now it is up to journalists to ensure there are no more hiding places either, in the boardrooms, on the websites of fake news, behind the facade of populism. That is what the Guardian has committed to do, with a clear focus on the climate emergency. Even if that upsets some people in the corridors of power: there can be pride in being the worst, if that’s what it means.
Not quite a fair start
While I have no doubt the Tesla truck would emerge victorious from a tug of war with a F-150, to be fair the contest should have started with the line taut, not slack. Also, both vehicles should have moved at the same time. In this video, the Cybertruck moves first, giving it an advantage it doesn’t need. This contest must be done over.
This would have been more impressive…
but, on the bright side, everyone on the Internet is talking about it.
It occurs to me…
that I saw no wing mirrors on the truck. Also, with the roll down bed cover, a rear-view mirror is not going to work, so they must be going to cameras in place of mirrors. Which is fine by me, since they have wider fields of vision.
Update: This has been confirmed by people who road in the truck. The rear view mirror is a camera and side cameras fill in for wing mirrors.
Okay, let’s start with the elephant in the room…
Tesla’s much anticipated “Cyber ” pickup truck was revealed last night and it definitely is not going to win over the “traditional” pick up truck owner. Then again, nothing Tesla makes is going to interest that crowd.
The customer segment for this truck is going to be the “pro-Tesla” crowd, and any fleet owners, or contractors who are looking at the specs and the bottom line. More on that in a moment.
The moment of the reveal (which is now destined for immortality as a meme for all the wrong reasons, under the header “Fail”) is the moment Elon Musk had the truck’s designer Franz Holzhausen chuck a steel ball at the side windows to demonstrate the unbreakable glass, which promptly broke. Then, because he couldn’t avoid doubling down, he had Franz try the same thing on the rear window with identical results. We then spent the remainder of the reveal with these two failures on prominent display.
Musk had already tested samples of the glass by dropping these same steel balls on sheets from about 20 feet with nary a problem. So, their is definitely a miscalculation somewhere, and I am guessing someone’s job just ended last night.
As expected Tesla stock price is taking a SERIOUS beating in pre-market trading (down 6%, or about $20 as I write this). Which is to be expected, since Musk just handed the financial media (who pretty much hate his guts) a Cybertruck load of steel balls with which to pummel the company.
This is a shame, and a distraction from the truck itself. With a stainless steel body, looking very “Deloreanesque”, it did weather an assault with a sledge hammer with nary a dent, so things started off well.
The specs were quite impressive
- 250-500 mile range
- 3,750 lb cargo capacity
- 14,000 lb towing capacity
- 6 passenger
- 0-60mph in 6.5-2.9 seconds
- Onboard 120v/220v electrical service
- Onboard air compressor
- Adaptive Air Suspension
- 16″ ground clearance
- Retractable bed cover
- Built-in tailgate loading ramp
- RWD/AWD/Tri-motor performance
- Starting price of $39,900, ($49.9K for AWD, $69.9K for performance model)
So, if you are looking for a tough truck, cheap to operate, hard to dent, that includes 120v/220v electrical service, air compressor and room for six, this is your truck. Just don’t hurl any three pound steel balls at the windows.
Floods in Africa, Droughts and Wild Fires in Australia
Global heating supercharging Indian Ocean climate system
The Guardian, 11/19/2019
Global heating is “supercharging” an increasingly dangerous climate mechanism in the Indian Ocean that has played a role in disasters this year including bushfires in Australia and floods in Africa.
It is similar to El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, which cause sharp changes in weather patterns on both sides of the ocean.
Recent research suggests ocean heat has risen dramatically over the past decade, leading to the potential for warming water in the Indian Ocean to affect the Indian monsoon, one of the most important climate patterns in the world.
“There has been research suggesting that Indian Ocean dipole events have become more common with the warming in the last 50 years, with climate models suggesting a tendency for such events to become more frequent and becoming stronger,” Ummenhofer said.
She said warming appeared to be “supercharging” mechanisms already existing in the background. “The Indian Ocean is particularly sensitive to a warming world. It is the canary in the coalmine seeing big changes before others come to other tropical ocean areas.”
This is our future. The world is either on fire, or under water.
Today Ends in “Y”, so Market Watch has a Negative Tesla Story
Tesla ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck could be so
futuristic that it leaves buyers cold
Claudia Assis never saw good news come from Tesla that she didn’t interpret as bad news. This week with Tesla’s much anticipated Cybertruck debuting tomorrow, she made the rounds of Tesla critics and short sellers to find out why this was a bad thing.
Some on Wall Street were sounding skeptical about the new Tesla Inc. pickup truck, the Silicon Valley car maker’s first foray into the top auto segment in the U.S.
“We expect focus to be on how well the actual design resonates with pickup buyers,” Emmanuel Rosner at Deutsche Bank said in a note Monday.
There’s a risk the vehicle would be so futuristic as to not attract “traditional pickup buyers, leaving it a lower-volume niche product,” Rosner said.
Yes, that would be a worry if Tesla was trying to sell to “traditional pickup buyers”, who would not drive a Tesla if it came free with a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Tesla’s customer base are people who want a pickup truck that isn’t coating the insides of their lungs (and their children’s lungs) in a way that would make a bare-handed coal miner leery. Oh, and contractors who don’t want to pay 25¢ a mile to haul around their tools, including a generator to power said tools, when they can pay under a dime a mile and power their tools with their truck.
Back in March, Tesla revealed the compact SUV Model Y just ahead of its first-quarter results. Many analysts faulted Tesla for that timing, and the reveal renewed concerns about production issues. The stock fell 5% after the Model Y unveiling.
True. The stock fell to around $280. Of course this week it is trading at $350+, so I don’t think the “concerns” were lastingly concerning.
“After the model Model Y launch fizzled on concerns this will cannibalize the Model 3, we expect a similar response to the truck,” said Craig Irwin, an analyst with Roth Capital Partners.
In 24 hours after the reveal of the Model Y, 5 million people had watched the livestream on Youtube. Contrast this with the 50,000 who watched Ford’s Mustang Mach E reveal. We seem to have a different idea of “fizzled”.
Roth Capital can’t seem to make up its mind what it believes. They rated Tesla a buy at $208 this past June, but then rated it a sell October 29th, with a target rating of $249. Tesla closed that day at $323, and as I write this is trading at $353.
“We do not expect initial truck production until mid-2021, around a year after first Model Y production,” Irwin said in a note. Tesla could also walk back from prior suggestions that the “cybertruck” would start at less than $50,000 and with the 400-500-mile range, he said.
Tesla “could” do that. They also “could” build robotic fire ants and send them to Mars, then bury fickle analysts in the mounds covered Karo Syrup. I don’t expect that idea to begin production until mid-2021.
About That Supercharger Fire in NJ
Tesla supercharger ruled out as cause of N.J. fire
Automotive News, 11/19/2019
A fire at a Wawa convenience store in New Jersey on Sunday afternoon was not caused by a Tesla supercharger; it arose from a nearby transformer, a local fire official said Tuesday.
“No vehicles were involved; it wasn’t the charging stations at all,” Palmeiri said. “It was a separate on-site transformer that sends power from JCP&L to the charging stations … Nothing to do really with the charging stations.”
Yes, this was a BIG story for a day or so. Never mind that fact that 13 gas stations catch on fire every day.
Production Hell Comes to Porsche
Porsche Taycan reservation holders from Norway recently received a rather disappointing message from the veteran German sports car maker. As it turns out, deliveries for the all-electric Taycan will be starting later than expected, with the automaker estimating a delay of about 8-10 weeks.
The message, which was recently sent out to Taycan reservation holders and shared on media outlet Tek.no, explained the reasons behind the automaker’s delivery delays. Based on the information provided by the carmaker, the complexity of the Taycan’s production is a key reason behind the vehicle’s longer-than-expected delivery timeline.
Sorry to see them have problems, though according to a lot of Wall Street analysts, “real” car companies aren’t supposed to have problems like this.
Another Coal Plant Turned Off
A Massive Coal Plant That Asked for Trump’s Help Has Gone Dark
Bloomberg News, 11/19/2019
At 12:09 p.m. local time on Monday — after churning out electricity for almost five decades — the largest coal-fired power plant in the western U.S. permanently closed, becoming the latest testament to the fossil fuel’s decline. Once a flash point in President Donald Trump’s campaign to save America’s coal industry, the Navajo complex in the Arizona desert will now spend the next three years being dismantled and decommissioned.
Tribal leaders spent years appealing to the Trump administration for help saving the plant, characterizing it as the president’s chance to fulfill his campaign promise to revive America’s Coal Country. The fact that the Interior Department owns a 24% stake in the complex gave him all the more reason to make an example out of it. Then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke vowed to explore all options for rescuing the site.
For all its political ties, the Navajo complex proved no match against market forces. The shale boom unleashed record volumes of low-cost natural gas, undermining the economics of coal generators across the U.S. Cheaper and cleaner wind and solar farms also began squeezing the plant’s profits.
Coal simply cannot compete with low methane prices and the continued fall or renewable costs. Hydro/solar/wind power generation are the only power generation methods where the fuel comes to you. No exploring, drilling, pumping, refining, transporting by pipe or rail required.
In their hurry to write headlines about “Ford versus Tesla”, the financial press/pundits are missing the bigger story, which is “EV versus ICE”, and more subtly, “Ford versus Ford dealerships”.
People are sending their $500 reservations directly to Ford, reserving their Mach E’s online, not at the dealerships. The dealerships are now the delivery boys for Ford. What will the dealership’s add to the transaction? Electron rustproofing?
Actually, there are some things a dealer could do to “add value”, starting with installing home charging equipment, but that is going to take effort on the dealer’s part.
Kind of embarrassing to have to point this out, but on your web site you discuss battery capacity in terms of “kw” (kilowatts), instead of “kWh” (kilowatt hours). The difference matters, so please correct.
Mustang Mach E, First Look
Nikki shows us a few of the E’s fairly cool features. I have to say that while I had notice the lack of door handles, I thought it was just that they blended in to the body. They seem to have taken Tesla’s idea, and went a bit further.
Big Oil in Big Trouble
The future is not looking bright for oil, according to a new report that claims the commodity would have to be priced at $10-$20 a barrel to remain competitive as a transport fuel.
The new research, from BNP Paribas, says that the economics of renewable energy make it impossible for oil to compete at current prices. The author of the report, global head of sustainability Mark Lewis, says that “renewable electricity has a short-run marginal cost of zero, is cleaner environmentally, much easier to transport and could readily replace up to 40% of global oil demand”.
As a result, the report says, the long-term break-even oil price for gasoline to remain competitive as a source of mobility is $9-$10 per barrel, and for diesel $17-$19 a barrel
More and more analysts, industry insiders, and business/economics journalists are beginning to see the looming iceberg the oil industry is sailing toward with no awareness of their peril.
The current “oil boom” brought about by fracking was the result of new technology, and huge sums of borrowed money. The oil industry has always had a “boom/bust” cycle where the rising price of oil causes more rigs to be built, resulting in a glut of oil, which then drives down the price, bankrupting the late arrivals and the early players who didn’t have enough sense to get out before the prices collapsed. This then resulted in a contraction of the oil supply, causing the prices to rise again.
Rinse and repeat every decade since Titusville.
The new variable in this economic see-saw, is the rise of EVs and global warming. At some point, society is going to impose restrictions on oil extraction, which would limit supply and drive up the price. This would normally be welcomed by the oil industry, as consumers and industry must have oil for transport. But, unlike times past, there is an alternative to internal combustion engines powered by oil byproducts, electrically powered vehicles. Cheaper, cleaner, and with less impact of the environment.
So, as the price of oil rises, consumers are driven to EVs, which are cheaper to fuel, operate and maintain. The more people who switch, the lower the demand for oil, which drives the most expensive producers to bankruptcy, which reduces the supply of oil, keeping the price high.
“For the oil majors, the challenge is on a scale that they have never faced before, and business-as-usual is simply not an option,” the bank says, with any projects with break-even costs of $20 a barrel or higher facing the possibility that up to 40% of their output at below the cost of production.”
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