|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's Range||66.87 - 68.11|
|52 Week Range||58.04 - 79.38|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||0.85|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||9.21|
|Earnings Date||Nov. 6, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||3.50 (5.21%)|
|1y Target Est||93.69|
(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s car industry built its world-class reputation on sedans like the Audi A4, the BMW 5-Series and the Volkswagen Passat, reliable models that look good in the family driveway or company lot. But a shift in consumer taste to more hulking vehicles is coming at the worst possible time.Demand for sport utility vehicles that initially took hold in America has spread across the globe, dramatically changing the product mix of carmakers along with their production footprint. Higher sales of the lucrative vehicles, while good for German manufacturers overall, threatens to hurt the workforce in factories at home that are heavily geared toward traditional sedans and hatchbacks.At BMW AG, sales of SUVs made mostly in the U.S. account for 44% of all global deliveries, up from 24% a decade ago -- with a corresponding drop for models like the bread-and-butter 5-Series made at the Dingolfing plant near Munich. The trend is similar at Audi, which churns out SUVs mainly in Mexico, Hungary and Slovakia, and Mercedes, whose workers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, can’t make the massive GLE fast enough to satisfy demand.Recession, Trade WarsGermany’s automotive industry, the largest employer with about 830,000 workers, is already straining under the biggest production drop in nearly a decade. That has helped push Europe’s largest economy closer to recession. The decline, led by trade tensions and a slowing global economy, comes at a delicate time for an industry already facing a future when fewer hands will be needed to assemble battery-powered vehicles.A car’s combustion engine alone counts more than 1,000 parts, compared with just a couple of dozen components in an electric motor that doesn’t require an exhaust, transmission or fuel tank. The repercussions from the simpler setup cascade through the making of an electric car, with fewer people involved in development, testing, parts purchasing and service.“The SUV trend will certainly have implications for production structures,” said Rolf Janssen, a partner at Roland Berger consultancy. “For workers, this adds additional pressure to the overall transformation trend.”Like the pick-up truck, a model that’s popular in the U.S. but largely absent from European roads, SUVs were a fringe phenomenon on the continent two decades ago. Instead, motorists aspired to own an Audi A3 or the Mercedes C-Class, while their larger luxury siblings chauffeured around captains of industry and politicians.Mercedes set up shop in Alabama in 1995, making SUVs near consumers in a key market, while BMW’s sprawling Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, its biggest globally, churns out X3 through X7 models. VW manufactures its T-Roc crossover, credited with lifting results in its most recent quarter, in Portugal, while the Audi Q7 and Q8 takes form in Slovakia and the Q3 in Hungary.Forecaster LMC Automotive expects domestic German car production to sag to a 10-year low this year, with the export market in particular facing trouble. Justin Cox, director for global production at LMC, singled out Audi’s Neckarsulm plant in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Passat factory in Emden in northern Germany and VW’s massive Wolfsburg site as vulnerable.“The sedan localization issue isn’t helping Germany,” Cox said.Factory OutputFactory staff are starting to push back. In June, Neckarsulm worker representatives estimated the site’s utilization rate at a woeful 60%, despite model revamps for A6, A7 and A8 sedans. The factory, which employs almost 17,000, is missing out on the SUV sales boom and lacks firm commitments to assemble upcoming electric models, the powerful works council said, vowing to not budge on concessions as Audi seeks talks to cut costs.Since 2009, sales of A6 sedans and hatchbacks have sagged to make up 12% of the total, down from 20%, while the A4 made at the Ingolstadt headquarters has declined to 18% from 31%.“We urgently need plan to improve capacity utilization now and a medium-term solution for the future,” Neckarsulm labor head Juergen Mews said in a statement.Audi said its German sites remained the backbone of its global production network. In Ingolstadt, which already makes the Q2 compact SUV alongside sedans, the brand is in the midst of construction work to make the plant more flexible, a spokeswoman said. Talks with the labor council on future allocation plans are ongoing, she said.Volkswagen’s factory in Emden has likewise faced problems as SUVs like the T-Roc cannibalize the trusty but staid Passat. Falling demand for the former drawing card has forced VW to put some 10,000 staff at Emden on reduced working hours and cut temporary employees.The world’s biggest carmaker is shifting the Passat to Czech Republic and will retool Emden to make only electric vehicles by 2023 -- a move VW has said will require still fewer workers.Plant RebalancingEven VW’s headquarters plant in Wolfsburg, the world’s largest single car-manufacturing complex, faces risky times. The ubiquitous Golf, the car that brought VW back from the brink in the 1970s and set the tone for compact city hoppers, has struggled to maintain its allure amid mushrooming offerings of popular compact crossovers.As an offset, the 20,000-worker plant also makes the popular Tiguan SUV, and should get a boost from Golf production being moved from Puebla in Mexico, Cox said. SUVs make up 42% of production at Wolfsburg with the Tiguan and Seat Tarraco, and VW plans to build compact electric SUVs in Germany, a spokeswoman said. SUV sales should account for half of VW brand deliveries by 2025 and the group will step up bundling similar products across its 12 automotive brands to boost efficencies, according to the company.BMW has also sought to balance its SUV footprint, adding the X1 entry-size model to its Regensburg site in Bavaria. BMW said its global production network was able to react to changes in demand and customer behavior, while utilization at its eight German plants was “good.”German SUVsMercedes began German production of the GLA compact crossover at Rastatt in 2013 and Sindelfingen last year, in addition to the mid-size GLC SUV in Bremen. But its lucrative GLE and GLS vehicles are still made in Tuscaloosa, and the top-priced G-Wagon is largely hand-built in Austria at contract manufacturer Magna International Inc. Mercedes upgraded its facilities early to quickly react to changes in demand, a spokeswoman said, as demand for Mercedes SUV models has increased every year since 2009.Switching production to new models is difficult, expensive and time-consuming. Roland Berger estimates that it can take as long as a year to retool a plant to start making SUVs alongside sedans -- provided the legwork to accommodate the bigger and heavier vehicles has already been done.BMW’s Dingolfing factory, its biggest in Europe, last year made 330,000 sedans, from the entry-level 3-Series all the way up to the top-range 8-Series coupe. The facility’s hopes now lie partly on the iNext crossover, a technology flagship in the mold of the i3 electric car and the i8 sports car, which use a carbon fiber chassis, that will go on production in 2021.“Some of the juggernaut or brownfield plants with deeply ingrained structures will face a tougher task,” said Roland Berger’s Janssen.To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Munich at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at firstname.lastname@example.org, Benedikt KammelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Siblings Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt own almost half of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.The billionaires are descendants of Guenther Quandt, who built a German industrial empire by, among other things, supplying weapons to the Nazis during World War II. In the years since, the family has established stakes in both Daimler-Benz AG and BMW.Today, Klatten is Germany’s second-richest person, worth $18.6 billion, with interests in chemicals and carbon production, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Quandt, who owns part of a logistics company and a homeopathic medicine company, has a net worth of $15.5 billion. Both are members of BMW’s supervisory board, making them the richest related pair deriving wealth from the automotive industry. All told, the 25 richest families in the world now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24% from last year. Our list of the 20 wealthiest people who have made fortunes in the automotive sector includes some household names: Tesla’s Elon Musk is worth $23.1 billion; Larry Ellison, with $58.5 billion in total wealth, owns a stake in Tesla that’s worth more than $730 million.Others are less prominent but no less successful: Pallonji Mistry, chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, owns much of Tata Sons and is worth $20.3 billion; Li Shu Fu, the chairman of Volvo and Geely, is worth $10.6 billion.The Method The methodology behind wealth analysis can be challenging. In fortunes backed by decades of accumulated assets and dividends, the true extent of an individual’s or family’s holdings is often obscured. Most in this tax bracket are not thrilled to have their names, assets, shares, and interests published by a global news organization. Automotive wealth also tends to be a family affair. While individual members of these dynasties may not make the list, a clan’s overall wealth may be vast. (See: the Ford, Porsche, and Pieech families.) So we followed the same criteria applied to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. In order to keep it (relatively) simple, we have omitted those whose wealth comes from oil. Take the House of Saud, for instance. The family is worth an estimated $100 billion, a figure based on the cumulative payouts the country’s royals have received over the past five decades from the executive office of the king. That number doesn’t even include the planned initial public offering of its crown jewel, oil giant Saudi Aramco. It will be offered with an anticipated valuation of $2 trillion.Maybe we’ll come up with a special list for members of the House of Saud. In the meantime, here are the year’s richest people in cars.* *Stake value and percent of net worth figures are as of July 19, 2019. Total wealth figures are as of Oct. 9, 2019. 1. Bill Gates Company: AutoNation Inc.Stake Value: $914,554,258Percent of Total Net Worth: .9%Total Wealth: $105 billionLocation: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Segment: Car dealersGates may not be the first person you would expect to see on a list of automotive wealth, but his share of car dealer AutoNation contributes to his overall fortune, most of which comes from Microsoft Corp. and Cascade Investment (which controls stakes in dozens of publicly traded companies, including Canadian National Railway, Deere, and Ecolab). 2. Larry Ellison Company: Tesla Inc.Stake Value: $730,773,000 to $1 billionPercent of Total Net Worth: 1.3%Total Wealth: $58.5 billionLocation: Palo Alto, Calif.Segment: Passenger vehiclesAlthough he is the company’s second-largest shareholder, Ellison’s recently announced stake in Tesla is not the primary source of his wealth. He is the founder and main shareholder of the database company Oracle. The 75-year-old also owns the Indian Wells tennis event and real estate, including the island of Lanai, Hawaii. 3. Elon Musk Company: Tesla Inc.Stake Value: $8,307,076,693Percent of Total Net Worth: 36.9%Total Wealth: $22.9 billionLocation: Palo Alto, Calif.Segment: Passenger vehiclesLikely the most famous person invested in the segment—certainly the most colorful—the South African divides his time between Tesla, the maker of luxury electric vehicles, and SpaceX, a rocket manufacturer. Musk has always been a polarizing figure, garnering acclaim for his visionary leadership and criticism for failing to meet deadlines and engaging in public disputes. 4. Pallonji MistryCompany: Tata Motors Ltd.Stake Value: $302,722,710Percent of Total Net Worth: 1.5%Total Wealth: $19.7 billionLocation: MumbaiSegment: Passenger vehiclesMistry, 90, and his family are shareholders in Tata Sons, the holding company behind more than 100 affiliates with $100 billion in annual revenue, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The group employs 700,000 people in more than 100 countries. 5. Susanne Klatten Company: BMW AG Stake Value: $8,763,327,399Percent of Total Net Worth: 47.8%Total Wealth: $18 billionLocation: MunichSegment: Passenger vehiclesKlatten, 57, is the second-richest person in Germany. She inherited her wealth from her father, German industrialist Herbert Quandt, who turned BMW from a struggling carmaker into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of luxury vehicles. Klatten recently said that dealing with the responsibility of inherited wealth is a misunderstood burden. “Many believe that we are permanently sitting around on a yacht in the Mediterranean,” she said. “The role as a guardian of wealth also has personal sides that aren’t so nice.” 6. Stefan Quandt Company: BMW AGStake Value: $10,817,887,438Percent of Total Net Worth: 72.2%Total Wealth: $14.8 billionLocation: MunichSegment: Passenger vehiclesQuandt, 53, holds substantial stakes outside the family business, including homeopathic medicine company Biologische Heilmittel Heel; credit-card maker Entrust Datacard; and logistics company Logwin. His wealth derives from family matriarch Johanna Quandt, who died in 2015. 7. Li Shu Fu Company No. 1: Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd.Stake Value: $38,988,918Percent of Total Net Worth: .4%Location: Hangzhou, ChinaSegment: Passenger VehiclesCompany No. 2: Zhejiang Geely Holding GroupStake Value: $10,520,321,446Percent of Total Net Worth: 99.9%Total Wealth: $10.6 billionLocation: Hangzhou, ChinaSegment: Auto manufacturingLi, 56, is the founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, a maker of cars and related components, though he started his career manufacturing refrigerators. Geely’s $1.5 billion purchase of Volvo in 2010 was the largest ever overseas acquisition by a Chinese automaker. 8. Georg Schaeffler Company No. 1: Continental AGStake Value: $9,494,765,020Percent of Total Net Worth: 110.4%*Location: Hanover, GermanySegment: Auto partsCompany No. 2: Schaeffler AGStake Value: $3,116,322,400Percent of Total Net Worth: 36.2%Total Wealth: $7.99 billionLocation: Herzogenaurach, GermanySegment: Auto partsShaeffler, 54, is chairman and majority owner of Schaeffler AG, which makes ball bearings and other automotive supplies. He owns 80% of the company, while his mother, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler-Thumann, owns the rest, according to company filings. The two collectively hold 46% of auto supplier Continental as well, according to the company’s website as of June 2019.*Due to debt. 9. Blair Parry-Okeden Company: Cox AutomotiveStake Value: $1,738,541,209Percent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%Total Wealth: $7.84 billionLocation: AtlantaSegment: Automotive services Parry-Okeden, 69, is the granddaughter of James Cox, who founded Cox Enterprises in 1898. She owns almost 25% of the company, a $21 billion conglomerate that encompasses Kelley Blue Book and other automotive brands. She resides in Australia. 10. James Kennedy Company: Cox AutomotiveStake Value: $1,738,541,209Percent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%Total Wealth: $7.84 billionLocation: AtlantaSegment: Automotive servicesAn avid cyclist and hunter, Kennedy, 68, is the chairman of Cox Enterprises. 11. James Pattison Company: James Pattison GroupStake Value: $48,327,817Percent of Total Net Worth: .8%Total Wealth: $6.35 billionLocation: VancouverSegment: Car dealersPattison’s company is the largest car dealer in western Canada. It also publishes the Guinness World Records standings. He began his automotive career while still in college, fixing and selling used cars to fellow students before dropping out to manage a General Motors dealership. Today, Pattison, 90, and his wife, Mary, live in Vancouver. 12. Ernie Garcia Company No. 1: Carvana Co.Stake Value: $4,060,262,827Percent of Total Net Worth: 67.4%Location: Tempe, Ariz.Segment: Used car dealersCompany No. 2: DriveTimeStake Value: $1,005,999,251Percent of Total Net Worth: 16.7%Total Wealth: $4.93 billionLocation: Tempe, Ariz.Segment: Used car dealers and financingGarcia, 62, is the largest shareholder of Carvana, but his son, Ernie III, runs the business. The elder Garcia started developing DriveTime in the 1990s, when he bought rental-car company Ugly Duckling out of bankruptcy. He then merged it with a financing company to make it a vehicle for selling used cars to subprime borrowers. In 1990, Garcia was convicted of fraud for playing a small role in the Charles Keating savings-and-loan scandal. 13. Hiroshi MikitaniCompany: Trust Co Ltd.Stake Value: $234,488Percent of Total Net Worth: NegligibleTotal Wealth: $5.87 billionLocation: Nagoya, JapanSegment: Automotive retailMikitani, 54, amassed the bulk of his wealth after he founded Rakuten, Japan’s largest cybermall, which boasts more than 1.2 billion users worldwide. He qualifies for this list by virtue of his share of Trust Co Ltd., an exporter of used vehicles. Mikitani is a music lover and chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. 14. Margaretta Taylor Company: Cox AutomotiveStake Value: $1,150,111,876Percent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%Total Wealth: $5.18 billionLocation: AtlantaSegment: Automotive services Taylor, 77, is the granddaughter of James Cox and the cousin of James Kennedy, who runs Cox Enterprises. She owns roughly 16% of the family business, which owns Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader.com, among other brands. 15. James Cox Chambers Company: Cox AutomotiveStake Value: $1,150,111,876Percent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%Total Wealth: $5.18 billionLocation: AtlantaSegment: Automotive servicesChambers, 62, is the cousin of James Kennedy, who runs Cox Enterprises. He owns 16% of the company. He’s also an organic farmer in Columbia County, N.Y.16. Katharine Rayner Company: Cox AutomotiveStake Value: $1,150,111,876Percent of Total Net Worth: 21.6%Total Wealth: $5.18 billionLocation: AtlantaSegment: Automotive servicesRayner, 74, is the granddaughter of company founder James Cox. She has largely stayed out of the public eye. 17. Quek Leng Chan Company No. 1: Hong Leong Asia Ltd.Stake Value: $5,103,369Percent of Total Net Worth: .1%Location: Kuala LumpurSegment: Auto partsCompany No. 2: Hong Leong Industries Bhd.Stake Value: $291,110,648Percent of Total Net Worth: 5.5%Total Wealth: $5.27 billionLocation: Kuala LumpurSegment: Motorbikes and partsQuek, 76, has interests in almost a dozen public companies, including property manager Guoco Group, insurer Hong Leong Financial, and manufacturer Hong Leong Industries. He’s a cigar aficionado. 18. Rahul Bajaj Company No. 1: Bajaj Finance Ltd.Stake Value: $586,320,006Percent of Total Net Worth: 12.4%Location: Pune, IndiaSegment: Auto financingCompany No. 2: Bajaj Auto Ltd.Stake Value: $1,208,532,867Percent of Total Net Worth: 25.5%Total Wealth: $5.2 billionLocation: Pune, IndiaSegment: Motorbikes and partsBajaj, 81, is the chairman of the world’s largest maker of three-wheeled motorcycles. He attended Harvard Business School and also owns stakes in an investment company and an insurance firm. His grandfather, Jamnalal Bajaj, an Indian independence fighter and Mahatma Gandhi confidant, founded the group in 1926. 19. Chung Mong-Koo Company No. 1: Hyundai Motor Co.Stake Value: $1,269,429,178Percent of Total Net Worth: 27.9%Location: SeoulSegment: Passenger vehiclesCompany No. 2: Hyundai Mobis Co.Stake Value: $1,408,455,597Percent of Total Net Worth: 30.9%Total Wealth: $4.5 billionLocation: SeoulSegment: Automotive technologyChung, 81, is the chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. He was convicted in 2007 of embezzling $110.5 million from Hyundai, Kia, and other affiliates and using the funds as a political slush fund. He was pardoned in 2008 by then-South Korean President Lee Myung Bak. 20. Wang Chuan-Fu Company: BYD Co.Stake Value: $3,522,094,647Percent of Total Net Worth: 82.4%Location: Shenzhen, ChinaSegment: Passenger vehiclesCompany: BYD Co Ltd.Stake Value: $4,993,622Percent of Total Net Worth: .1%Total Wealth: $4.11 billionLocation: Shenzhen, ChinaSegment: Passenger vehiclesWang, 53, is the founder and largest shareholder of BYD. The company makes cars, buses, and other goods, including cell phone batteries.To contact the author of this story: Hannah Elliott in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Petri at firstname.lastname@example.org, David RovellaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- As others automakers plan battery-powered SUVs and trucks, Toyota Motor Corp.’s vision for the future of driving remains a hydrogen-sipping sedan.The Japanese behemoth will begin sales late next year of the second-generation Mirai, its fuel cell-powered four-door, and ramp up annual production by 10-fold from the current model. Toyota’s bet that it can position a hydrogen sedan for more of a mass market flies in the face of rivals wagering on putting batteries into the bigger-bodied vehicles consumers are buying.Toyota has been slower than peers to embrace EVs, citing uncertain demand in key markets including the U.S. and technical hurdles that limit battery range and recharging times. While the company has pledged to offer an electrified version of every model in the next five years, and 10 fully electric vehicles by early the next decade, it’s also going to keep coaxing consumers to give hydrogen a try.“Toyota won’t be putting all our eggs in one technology basket,” Doug Murtha, Toyota’s U.S. group vice president for corporate strategy and planning, said at a briefing in Greensboro, North Carolina.Toyota’s near-term electrification goals in the U.S. center on its gas-electric hybrid powertrains. It currently sells six hybrid vehicles and said Thursday it will add a plug-in hybrid version of its RAV4 crossover next year.The company plans to increase sales of hybrid cars and SUVs in the U.S. to 25% of deliveries by 2025, up from about 9% today.Slow DevelopmentToyota began developing hydrogen-powered cars more than 20 years ago, but progress has been slow due to high material costs and steep hurdles to setting up refueling infrastructure. Recent technological advances halved the cost of fuel cell stacks that mix hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, allowing the carmaker to boost global output from 3,000 a year in 2018 to 30,000 next year and 200,000 by 2025, Taiyo Kawai, general manager of the company’s hydrogen efforts, told reporters during a briefing in London.Rival automakers such as General Motors Co. in the U.S. and BMW AG in Europe have invested in fuel cell technology but are prioritizing EVs in their current and future zero-emission products. In the U.S., only Toyota, Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. sell fuel cell-powered passenger cars -- and only at a handful of dealers due to the scarcity of hydrogen stations.Fuel cell vehicles offer several advantages over battery-powered cars, including quicker refueling times and longer driving ranges. But they remain a novelty, accounting for less than 0.1% of the nearly 100 million vehicles produced each year, according to research by the National Academy of Sciences.“Unfortunately, despite years of education efforts, hydrogen cars are still a mystery to most people,” said Jackie Birdsall, a senior engineer at Toyota’s R&D center in Gardena, California. “The good news is that fuel cell technology is gaining momentum around the world,” she said.‘Such a Hassle’Improvements have been made to shrink the size of hydrogen fuel tanks and reduce the amount of costly platinum needed for fuel cell stacks. But there’s still more to do, including replacing platinum with cheaper synthetic materials, said Shawn Litster, a mechanical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.Toyota, which loses money on the current Mirai, hasn’t said when it plans to break even with a future version. The company showed a near production-ready model to reporters this week in Greensboro, but wouldn’t say when the car will make its official public debut.The first Mirai -- which means “future” in Japanese -- debuted in late 2014, but availability in the U.S. has been limited to California and Hawaii. California has spent about $100 million over the past several years to build out a network of hydrogen stations. The state currently lists just 38 retail locations that are operational; another 22 are in various stages of development.The first-generation car’s oddball looks, $58,500 sticker price and cramped interior made it a hard sell for dealers. Most U.S. drivers lease the Mirai, and experiences with the futuristic vehicle have been mixed.Lawrence Kopp, a 42-year-old San Diego area resident, traded his Mirai in for a gasoline-powered Ford SUV in August after two years of headaches. Too few hydrogen pumps and a lack of cabin space wasn’t a good fit for a father with young children. “It was such a hassle I was ready to go back to a gas vehicle,” the corporate real estate executive said.Going GlobalThe new version of the Mirai is sleeker and more coupe-like, with a lower, longer and wider stance. It has room inside for five passengers, one more than the current model, and sports racier 20-inch wheels.Toyota says the Mirai will make a 30% leap from the existing model’s 312-mile range. Pricing won’t be announced until later, but it will be sold as a premium vehicle under the Toyota brand. Sales may be expanded to some states in the Northeast and Northwest, pending their buildup of hydrogen station networks.Toyota’s U.S. executives said that while they may prefer to have an SUV to sell, the company has stuck with a sedan body style to compete with premium models where passenger cars are still popular. In addition to Japan, Europe and the U.S., the Mirai will be sold in China, Australia and parts of the Middle East.“If I were king, we might have gone for something larger,” Murphy said. “But this needed to be a vehicle for global markets, not just us here.\--With assistance from Siddharth Philip.To contact the reporter on this story: Chester Dawson in Southfield at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Every investor in Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (ETR:BMW) should be aware of the most powerful...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In the darkest days of the 2009 recession, Germany’s industrial output was collapsing at an annual rate of more than 20%. An unfathomable implosion but one that thankfully ended almost as quickly as it started.Some 10 years on, a crisis is brewing once again in the country’s industrial heartlands. The pain could prove more enduring this time.So far the problems aren’t nearly as acute as in 2009; industrial production fell by a comparatively modest 4.2% in July. The worry, though, is that demand is being sapped by a mix of both cyclical and longer-lasting structural factors such as the demise of diesel and the shift to electrical vehicles. Trump’s trade wars and Brexit aren’t helping. Germany’s industrial sector contributes more than one-fifth of GDP and is usually a huge asset. Right now this export engine is pulling the economy down. Signs of distress are everywhere. German manufacturing activity is at a decade low, according to IHS Markit’s purchasing manager’s index. The Ifo Institute estimates that more than 5% of manufacturing companies have cut working hours and about 12% expect to do so during the next three months. German machinery orders declined 9% in the first six months of the year, according to the VDMA association, which represents the country’s engineers. In chemicals and pharmaceuticals, domestic production fell 6.5% in the first half of the year, while domestic car output has fallen 12% this year. Auto exports have dropped 14%. ThyssenKrupp AG, a former industrial jewel that makes everything from steel to submarines to car parts, is in crisis. It’s burning cash, weighed down by debt and has parted company with two chief executives in the space of 14 months. The chemicals giant BASF is cutting 6,000 jobs and has warned on profits.Meanwhile, the German carmakers BMW AG and Daimler AG have issued profit warnings as tighter emission rules oblige them to keep spending heavily. Their suppliers are the ones really hurting though. At least three — Eisenmann, Weber Automotive and a subsidiary of Avir Guss — have filed for insolvency in recent weeks and investors are betting the pain will spread more widely.The list of manufacturing heartache goes on. Debt-laden wiring and cable company Leoni AG is among the Germany’s most shorted stocks. The shares have lost two-thirds of their value over the past year and this is hardly unique.The company that best illustrates this slow-burn crisis is Continental AG. Last week the tire and car parts titan announced a massive restructuring, which it said would affect 20,000 jobs over the next decade, or some 8% of the workforce. Explaining its decision, the manufacturer warned of an “emerging crisis in the automotive industry.” Demand is weak and technological requirements are shifting fast. In future it will need more software engineers but fewer people building components for gasoline and diesel engines.Conti’s great rival Robert Bosch GMBH has a big diesel technology business and is preparing for upheaval too. Its chief executive officer Volkmar Denner told Sueddeutsche Zeitung last month that he expects autos production to stagnate. “That’s different from the past when it almost always went up. The tailwind is gone,” he said.With luck these grim warnings will compel the government to reconsider its demand-sapping commitment to a balanced budget. Last week the head of the BDI industry lobby group urged Berlin to consider additional borrowing to fund public investment — a once unthinkable heresy but one that’s common sense when even 30-year German debt yields nothing.However, unlike in 2009 when a domestic car scrappage scheme boosted demand, Germany can’t easily buy itself out of trouble this time. Tens of thousands of well-paid industrial jobs face obsolescence because of the demise of the combustion engine. Electric vehicle drivetrains have far fewer parts and the process is less labor intensive.Germany’s economic power was built on the back of its excellent gasoline and diesel cars. Their inevitable demise puts the country’s position as the “engine of Europe” under threat.To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Automakers that are under U.S. antitrust scrutiny over an emissions agreement reached with California regulators are set to meet next week with the Justice Department, according to a person familiar with the matter.Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG agreed in July to voluntarily meet emissions targets offered by California regulators, defying a Trump administration proposal to freeze national standards at 2020 levels. Both would be less stringent than requirements put in place during the Obama administration.The Justice Department’s antitrust division raised concerns in August that the automakers’ agreement may be in violation of antitrust laws and invited them to meet with the department to discuss the issue.Representatives for Ford, Honda, BMW and VW declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported the planned meeting earlier on Friday.The government’s inquiry into the agreement has come under fire from Democratic lawmakers who say it’s politically motivated.During a hearing with a senior Justice Department official earlier this month, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said the probe “appears to have less to do with protecting competition than with intimidating parties that don’t fall into line with the Trump administration’s plan to relax emissions standards.”To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Craig TrudellFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and life insurer Just Group Plc are among six borrowers selling pound bonds on Wednesday, as issuers rush to lock in financing before potential market upheavals around the looming Brexit deadline.The deluge will push sterling sales for the month above 16 billion pounds ($19.9 billion), including a gilt deal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the highest monthly tally since January, when a then-March Brexit date turbocharged the usual start-of-the-year rush.Issuers may be stepping up sales now because upcoming earnings blackout and the countdown to the Oct. 31 Brexit date are likely to hinder sales next month. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to take the country out of the European Union on schedule -- with or without a deal -- even after suffering an unprecedented legal defeat in the Supreme Court.“Companies are very keen to get issuance out of the way before U.K. uncertainty becomes even more fraught,” said Gordon Shannon, a portfolio manager at TwentyFour Asset Management, which oversees 15.3 billion pounds.BMW is selling a benchmark-sized five-year note, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak about it. The luxury-car maker, which regularly issues pound bonds, has three notes totaling about 700 million pounds maturing by year-end, Bloomberg data show.U.K. BorrowersJust Group is marketing 125 million pounds of subordinated Tier 2 notes at a yield of 8.125% to 8.25%. That would be the biggest yield of any pound debt sale this year, Bloomberg data show. Another U.K. borrower WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc sold notes on Tuesday, following deals by issuers including ITV Plc and Barclays Plc last week.Still, Metro Bank Plc scrapped a pound sale of senior non-preferred bonds on Monday after the promise of record coupons failed to win over investors. The troubled lender opted against the sale due to “current market conditions,” according to an emailed statement.Overseas borrowers have also flocked to the pound market, as U.K. investors seek to put money to work with issuers less exposed to Brexit risks. French lenders Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel SA and Credit Agricole SA were both in the market on Wednesday, along with Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau. The German state-owned bank, better known as KfW, is marketing a 250 million-pound tap of a 1.375% 2024 note. It has a 4.8 billion-pound note due in December.“For European issuers in particular it has become cheaper to issue in sterling than euros,” said Luke Hickmore, an investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “And, with the books for recent sterling issues having been so big, I can see why they have printed.”To contact the reporters on this story: Hannah Benjamin in London at email@example.com;Lyubov Pronina in Brussels at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Vivianne Rodrigues at email@example.com, Neil DenslowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If there was an award for a “corporate executive with absolute worst sense of timing” my nominee would be Volkswagen AG’s chief executive Herbert Diess.The German carmaker poached Diess from BMW AG to take over as head of its struggling mass market VW brand in December 2014 after he was disappointed to have been passed over for the top job at BMW. The initial plan was that Diess would start work at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters on Oct. 1 2015. However, Diess and BMW agreed he could shorten his gardening leave and take up his new job on July 1 instead.Boy was that a mistake on his part. In Sept. 2015, barely two months after Diess landed, VW admitted rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide to cheat diesel emissions tests — an admission that would lead to 30 billion euros ($33 billion) of penalties, provisions and recall costs.On Tuesday German prosecutors charged Diess, who has since become CEO of the entire VW group, with stock market manipulation. They allege he was told about the cheating shortly before the end of July, some four weeks after he started work, but that he didn’t immediately inform the market as he’s obliged to do.Martin Winterkorn, who stepped down as VW boss when the cheating was revealed, and Hans Dieter Poetsch, VW’s then finance director who is now the company’s chairman, have been charged with the same offense. VW’s position all along has been that it didn’t recognize how financially serious its problems would prove to be with U.S. regulators (who got the ball rolling on uncovering and investigating the scandal). It reiterated on Tuesday that it thinks the latest allegations are groundless. Lawyers for the three men said similar.If the case goes to trial, which wouldn’t be until next year at the earliest, things could get awkward for VW. The news is particularly unhelpful for Diess, who has spearheaded the car giant’s effort to leave behind the diesel scandal and embrace electric vehicles. Diess has bet the farm on his electric strategy and VW needs him to finish the job.The charges are a reminder too that VW was perhaps a little cavalier in confirming Poetsch’s elevation to the chairmanship even though he had the market manipulation allegation hanging over him. In view of his role in overseeing VW’s recovery from the scandal, a VW shareholder once branded Poetsch the “personfication of a conflict of interest.” He certainly wasn’t the fresh start VW probably needed.Given the abject panic that any inkling of a U.S. criminal or regulatory investigation typically sparks in corporate boardrooms, it seems bizarre that VW executives failed to recognize the severity of the trouble the company was in back in 2015 and didn’t communicate promptly to investors.Anyone who bought VW stock in the months prior to September 2015 can feel aggrieved that they weren’t in possession of the same information that executives had. More than 30 billion euros of market value went up in smoke when U.S. regulators went public with their accusations about VW’s use of “defeat devices,” which hid diesel emission levels during tests, though it’s since recovered much of that ground. A finding against the executives would provide fodder to investors pursuing civil claims for compensation. The stocks’s 2.5% drop on Tuesday suggests today’s crop of VW investors are worried, but not excessively.In hindsight, Diess would have been better off staying in his garden in Bavaria a little longer. Rarely can such eagerness to show up to work have turned out so badly. To contact the author of this story: Chris Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas came out with a note claiming Tesla could more than triple its model lineup over the next 5 years. Now, what Jonas isn’t saying is that Tesla will have 9 models compared to the 3 it has out right.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- America’s automakers hit rock bottom in the eyes of the public when their executives went to Washington in 2008 to beg for a bailout — in corporate jets.Now it’s the German car industry’s turn to suffer an image crisis and, as with General Motors Co. and Chrysler a decade ago, it couldn’t be happening at a less auspicious moment. Amid trade wars and plunging China sales, the number of cars rolling off Germany’s production lines has dropped by 12% this year and exports by 14%. European auto sales fell 3% in the first eight months of 2019.(1) With demand expected to remain weak for a couple of years, the German parts supplier Continental AG isn’t ruling out cuts to working hours and jobs.It’s a bad time to be having a public relations nightmare too, but that is what’s happening in the country that invented the internal combustion engine. This month’s Frankfurt Motor Show was meant to give Germany’s mighty auto industry a platform to show off its expensive plans to build more electric vehicles.Instead, many international carmakers chose to stay away (some to save money) and Karl-Thomas Neumann, the ex-boss of Opel/Vauxhall, declared the event a “huge fail.” Compounding the misery, Daimler AG’s Mercedes, BMW AG and Volkswagen AG were upstaged by climate protesters who accused them of not doing enough to end their addiction to diesel and gasoline engines.Things had already got off to an ugly start. On the eve of the show four pedestrians were struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle in Berlin, prompting a fierce debate about the “social utility” of these gas-guzzling, tank-like cars. Featuring a picture of a Porsche SUV on its cover this week, Der Spiegel magazine declared a “new object of hate.” I’ve written before about the industry’s dependence on very profitable SUVs and the risk of a backlash.Meanwhile, the organization that one might usually expect to defend the German car giants — the VDA lobby group — was preoccupied with the abrupt resignation of its president, Bernhard Mattes. This fueled speculation that the industry was unhappy about its loss of political influence and increasing stigmatization.The German car industry provides more than 800,000 jobs in the country and it accounts for a big chunk of its manufacturing production and exports. Past governments fought hard to protect their industry crown jewel from troublesome regulations. That’s no longer always the case.First, the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal made it unwise for politicians to go easy on companies that put profits above public health. And second, Germans have become alarmed by climate change and the industry’s role in that. The average emissions of new vehicles sold(3) climbed for the second year in a row last year, in part because of SUV sales. That’s one reason why Germany is set to miss its 2020 carbon pollution reduction targets. Passenger cars account for about 11% of its greenhouse gas emissions.(2)Stringent European Union emission targets, and massive fines for non-compliance, have been put in place already. A German federal government led by the Greens (not unimaginable given the party’s poll surge) would be tougher still. After the deadly accident in Berlin, there were calls to ban SUVs from cities.The average age of a new car buyer in Germany has climbed to 53, suggesting that the industry may be looking at a difficult future. Yet claims that Germans have fallen out of love with the automobile feel overblown. They still bought about 3.4 million new vehicles last year, pretty decent by historic standards. About 95% of them had a combustion engine. More than one-quarter were SUVs. Nor does the government have any desire to kill its golden goose. Earlier this year officials rejected attempts by campaigners to mandate a speed limit on the autobahn.With this contradiction between the public’s anxiety about climate change and its fondness for big vehicles, it’s not surprising that the government and carmakers are struggling to keep everyone happy. Riding a bike and car-sharing have become a genuine alternative in cities such as Berlin. But for those who still feel they need a car, electric vehicles tend to be more expensive and their driving range can be limited (for now, at least). The climate package the German government is due to announce on Friday will doubtless try to address this by including more incentives for electric vehicles and infrastructure.As the industry wrestles with such epochal challenges, it helps that Germany’s automakers have all recently appointed new bosses. They’re far from united, however, on how aggressively to abandon the combustion engine. Volkswagen is going “all-in” on battery cars (it’s targeting 40% of electric sales by 2030), while BMW is more cautious. The latter thinks hydrogen fuel-cells might have a future, though VW isn’t a fan.Yet even VW plans to use the profit from selling large SUVs such as its three-row “Atlas” to fund investments in green alternatives.At last week’s show in Frankfurt, electric vehicles like the Porsche Taycan and Volkswagen ID3 sat alongside gas-guzzling monsters like the BMW X6 and Mercedes AMG GLE Coupe. With the climate crisis intensifying, the industry’s split personality is getting more incongruous and indefensible by the day.(1) It's not all bad - the German market has actually expanded slightly so far this year.(2) In terms of grams of CO2 per km(3) See hereTo contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg Opinion’s editorials: David Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org, .Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The Trump administration is gearing up for its next big legal fight, taking on California’s long-established authority to set vehicle emission standards for new cars. Because the state is so large, this effectively creates national miles-per-gallon targets for any manufacturer selling vehicles in the U.S. Trump would like to take this power away from California and set lower national MPG standards.The question is, can he do it? Or is this just another example of presidential overreach in an administration that specializes in going too far?The answer turns out to be more complicated than you might think. California’s practices do have a strong basis in a federal law created to let the state fight smog. Yet California may have gone beyond this original mandate and become a regulator acting on par with the federal government — a strange deviation from the norms of U.S. federalism. The issue may eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, and with its current conservative majority, the court could very well decide in favor of Trump.The origin of California’s unusual powers goes back to the Clean Air Act of 1963. The law gives the Environmental Protection Agency authority to set emission standards, and bars states and local governments from setting standards of their own. But Section 209 allows California to apply for a waiver from that ban to allow it to set its own emission standards. The EPA is required to grant California’s waiver unless it finds that California doesn’t need the standards “to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions” or that California was “arbitrary and capricious in its finding that its standards are, in the aggregate, at least as protective of public health and welfare as applicable federal standards.”The reason California got this special treatment back in 1963 was that Congress recognized that the terrible smog in Southern California was largely a product of vehicle emissions. The idea was that California could clean up its air by requiring things like catalytic converters and “check engine” systems to limit tailpipe emissions.It worked, more or less, and California’s skies got somewhat cleaner. And because California was and remains such a huge auto market, manufacturers came to treat the California standards as their de facto requirements for the whole country.The Trump administration is targeting California’s power because of a fight over a proposed EPA rule that reduces 2026 mileage targets of 51 MPG established under the Obama administration. After the Trump administration proposed lowering the standard to 37 MPG, California signed a separate deal with Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW in which the automakers said they would aim to meet the original target.As far as California is concerned, it’s still simply limiting carbon dioxide emissions and attempting to fight smog … but it’s doing so by setting mileage standards. The Trump administration is poised to argue that California has used its waiver to get into the business of regulating carmakers generally — not just to keep the skies clear over California. Effectively, the Trump demonstration says, California is competing with the EPA as a policymaker setting national standards.If you care about climate change, you might think that’s perfectly fine, especially because California can only set standards that are tougher than the federal government’s, not weaker.But from the standpoint of government design, it’s pretty strange that one state can thwart the will of the executive branch. The governor of California represents Californians; the U.S. president represents the entire country. Even if you don’t like Trump’s policies, you should be willing to admit that he’s the elected president.The technical name for a situation where one state has special powers is “asymmetrical federalism.” The Clean Air Act waiver is one of those highly unusual cases where the U.S. Congress has given asymmetrical powers to one state. Lots of other states have pledged to follow California’s standards; but they don’t have the same legal authority to set standards of their own.When conservative courts come to consider whether California’s mileage standards go too far, expect them to analyze the issue against the backdrop of federalism. Sure, conservatives like states’ rights. But they may not like the idea that one state out of all the others has the capacity to compete with the federal government to make policy. And frankly, if it were not for the environmental twist, many liberal judges would also be skeptical of a state pushing the boundaries of its unique powers.The legal fight is just getting started, and it will take years to wend its way through the courts. If Donald Trump isn’t re-elected, the whole issue will probably go away. If he is, however, we are very likely to see a lengthy fight over federalism, the environment, and just how unique California really is.To contact the author of this story: Noah Feldman at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Feldman is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. His books include “The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Today we'll do a simple run through of a valuation method used to estimate the attractiveness of Bayerische Motoren...
(Bloomberg) -- It only took a decade for traditional automakers to take electric cars seriously and offer more than a smattering of test-the-water models.Now comes the hard part: Getting consumers to buy them.At Frankfurt’s 2019 car show, Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess laid it on thick, calling on governments to give up coal-fired power as he unveiled the electric ID.3 car-for-the-masses. At the Mercedes-Benz stand, where the Daimler AG brand was showing the prototype of an electric S-Class sibling, real beech trees framed massive screens displaying schools of digital fish.The message to environmentally conscious consumers: we’re with you. But a marketing blitz alone won’t wash away the deep uncertainties facing electric cars -- obstacles little changed since carmakers’ initial forays with models like the Nissan Leaf and BMW AG i3. Customers don’t like paying up for new technology they’re unsure about, and they’re worried they won’t reliably get to where they want to go.“The next big thing is not going to be about the cars, because they will come,” Carlos Tavares, president of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association and CEO of Groupe PSA, said Wednesday. “The next big thing is about affordable mobility. The next big thing is about how we make this work for the biggest number of people.”So far, electric cars have only proliferated in countries with significant sweeteners. Once they go, sales of battery models crater. Demand in China, the world’s biggest electric car market, fell 16% in August -- its second straight decline -- after the government scaled back subsidies. Carmakers can reduce prices, but then only cut into profitability that in most cases has been nonexistent.Consumers are similarly sensitive elsewhere. Demand in Denmark collapsed when the government phased out tax breaks in 2016.“We’ve been talking about EVs for years, but this year the real production cars showed up,” Max Warburton, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a note. “Should we be celebrating these cars, given the poor margins that most will have?”Across Europe, sales of new plug-in hybrids and fully-electric cars last year made up 2% of total registrations. That’s a tiny market to tussle over for the likes of VW’s ID.3, with a price point below 30,000 euros ($33,009), Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 and Mercedes’s gleaming lineup of plug-ins. Yet carmakers have little choice but to boost their offering to keep pace with regulation, or face fines.Consumer demand “can’t be mandated,” Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius said at the show. Mercedes-Benz is adding at least 10 purely battery-powered cars through 2022 at a cost of more than 10 billion euros, starting with last year’s EQC SUV, so the carmaker’s lineup can to meet stricter emission limits.A lot of factors are moving in the right direction. The ID.3’s price point and basic range of 330 kilometers (205 miles) sets the car apart from previous efforts that needed meticulous pre-planning for longer trips. At the top end, there’s now the $185,000 Porsche Taycan Turbo S, and a mid-range that’s rapidly filling out from SUVs like the Jaguar I-Pace and Audi e-tron.Patchy charging infrastructure is improving too. Ionity, a consortium of Daimler, VW, Ford Motor Co., BMW and now Hyundai Motor Co., is on track to finish building a network of 400 European fast-charging stations by next year to make long-distance travel easier.Lean YearsFor carmakers, this will mean some lean years -- at least to 2025 when battery prices are expected to come down -- during which lucrative conventional SUVs must subsidize poor returns from their electric cousins. VW will need “patience” until the ID.3 brings significant profit “joy,” Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said.To bridge the gap, the industry is lobbying hard for governments to step up incentives to get to the oft-cited tipping point where driving without a combustion engine becomes normal. In Germany, home to VW, Mercedes and BMW as well as world-leading suppliers like Continental AG, the government sits down next week to discuss broad climate measures. Carmakers are hoping for a bigger slice of subsidies than they got so far.The ACEA on Wednesday called on national governments to boost charging points in Europe to 2.8 million by 2030, a 20-fold increase from 2018.“We need strong support, because if we don’t do it,” simply offering electric cars won’t be enough for sales to take off, PSA’s Tavares said.\--With assistance from Richard Weiss.To contact the reporters on this story: Oliver Sachgau in Munich at email@example.com;Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at email@example.com, Elisabeth BehrmannFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Germany is at a crossroads, and nowhere will that be more evident than at the Frankfurt auto show this week.Despite sleek new electric models like the Porsche Taycan, the traditional showcase of German automotive excellence risks becoming a platform for protest rather than preening, drawing attention to a generation of young consumers more likely to demonstrate against the car’s role in global warming than shop for a new VW, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.Autos have made Germany into a global manufacturing powerhouse, but pollution concerns -- intensified by Volkswagen AG’s 2015 diesel-cheating scandal -- have sullied the reputation of a product that once embodied individual freedom. More recently, trade woes and slowing economies have hit demand. The consequence is Germany’s car production slumping to the lowest level since at least 2010.“Investors have been fearful about the industry’s prospects for a number of years, and the list of things to worry about doesn’t seem to be getting shorter,” said Max Warburton, a London-based analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein. “There is a general sense that things are about to get worse.”The end of the combustion-engine era and car buyers more interested in data connectivity than horsepower threaten Germany’s spot at the top of the automotive pecking order. Signs of trouble abound. In addition to numerous profit warnings this year, Mercedes maker Daimler AG delayed a plan to expand capacity at a Hungarian factory, parts giant Continental AG has started talks to cut jobs, and automotive supplier Eisenmann filed for insolvency.The car’s fragile standing was evident in the reaction to a deadly accident in Berlin on Friday evening when a Porsche SUV crashed into a group of pedestrians. Stephan von Dassel, the mayor of the district where the incident took place, said on Twitter that “such tank-like vehicles” should be banned in the city.Germany is teetering on the brink of recession, and the auto industry is pivotal to the economy’s health. Carmakers such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW AG as well as parts suppliers like Robert Bosch GmbH and Continental employ about 830,000 people in the country and support everything from machine makers to advertising agencies and cleaning services. With factories from Portugal to Poland, the importance of the sector radiates across Europe as well.With emissions regulations set to tighten starting next year, concerns are mounting that companies across the country’s industrial landscape are ill-equipped to deal with the technology transition resulting from climate change and increasing levels of digitalization. IG Metall organized a demonstration in June, with more than 50,000 people rallying in Berlin, to draw attention to the risk of widespread layoffs from what Germany’s biggest industrial union calls “the transformation.”“Far too many companies stick their heads in the sand and rest on their laurels,” IG Metall Chairman Joerg Hofmann said. “If companies continue to act so defensively, they’re playing roulette with the futures of their workers.”The concern is that the future of Germany’s car towns could look something like Ruesselsheim. The home of the Opel brand, which once rivaled VW as the German leader, has faded along with the carmaker’s performance. After years of losses, it was sold in 2017 by General Motors Co. to France’s PSA Group, which is slashing the Opel’s 20,000-strong German workforce by nearly a fifth.“Everybody in Ruesselsheim is worried,” said Servet Ibrahimoglu, owner of a kebab restaurant down the street from Opel’s factory, adding that his business has dropped by a third. “Before at lunchtime, this place was full. Now there’s no one.”The auto industry’s efforts to adapt to the risks will be on display in Frankfurt, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for models like the VW ID.3. The battery-powered hatchback is the auto giant’s first effort in an aggressive push into electric cars, which will make its debut at the Germany’s premier auto exhibition.Under bright lights and blaring music, the show is a throwback to the auto industry’s glory days, but it’s fading as public interest in old-school car show wanes. Toyota, Volvo and Ferrari are among the 30 brands skipping the show. For those still there, the displays will predominantly feature traditional gas guzzlers and other cash cows. Land Rover will unveil a resurrected version of the Defender, the British brand’s iconic offroader.“Instead of presenting new mobility concepts for the future, we’ll see lots of SUVs on stands that have become few and far between,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Center for Automotive Research. “The recession in the global auto business is forcing savings cuts for car manufacturers and suppliers, along with a rapid loss of attractiveness of the classic ‘analog’ car shows.”Make or BreakWhere German brands once tried to outdo one another with outlandish displays like indoor tracks and multistory exhibition spaces, the main drama may take place outside Frankfurt’s sprawling fairgrounds. Greenpeace and Germany’s BUND have called for a mass march on the site on Saturday, joined by groups of cyclists setting off from around Frankfurt to underscore their call for the end of the combustion engine. Organizers are expecting at least 10,000 people. “We’re in the middle of a climate crisis,” said Marion Thiemann, transport-policy expert at Greenpeace. “The biggest problem is the automobile industry.”Despite doubts from environmentalists, automakers have gotten the message that they’re facing a make-or-break moment. The industry is spending billions of euros to develop cleaner vehicles and counter the emergence of ride-sharing services like Uber Technologies Inc., which has a market value equivalent to Daimler, the inventor of the automobile.“I’m absolutely convinced that carmakers will adapt to the situation,” BMW’s labor head Manfred Schoch said during a testy panel discussion with activists in Berlin last week. “Those that don’t will go out of business.”(Adds comment from activist in third-to-last paragraph)\--With assistance from Kristie Pladson, Andrew Blackman and William Wilkes.To contact the reporters on this story: Christoph Rauwald in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.org;Carolynn Look in Frankfurt at email@example.com;Elisabeth Behrmann in Munich at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at email@example.com, Christoph Rauwald, Chris ReiterFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The sad degradation of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division continues. An agency charged with upholding the nation’s antitrust laws, without fear or favor, has become just another tool President Donald Trump uses to reward his friends and punish his enemies in corporate America.I don’t know how else you can characterize the news, reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, that the DOJ is investigating four major automakers that agreed to abide by California’s stringent tailpipe-emissions standards -- and chose to ignore less onerous rules the Trump administration has proposed.Wrote the Journal: “The Justice Department’s antitrust division is acting on its own accord and without direction from or coordination with the White House, according to one of the people familiar with the investigation.”Sure.And the division didn’t consult with the White House when it tried to block the AT&T Inc.--Time Warner deal in 2017. It was just pure coincidence that Time Warner owned the news network Trump loathed more than any other, CNN. Nor did it consult the White House when it let the Walt Disney Co.--21st Century Fox Inc. deal sail through with only minor changes. Who could possibly have known that Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch was the closest ally the president has in the media?It could well be true that the White House wasn’t consulted before the antitrust division acted. Before he was the named the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim was the deputy counsel for the Trump White House. Maybe he doesn’t have to talk to the White House to intuit what Trump wants. He knows who butters his bread.Here’s a little thought exercise. Suppose the four companies -- Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., BMW AG and Volkswagen AG -- had jointly decided to sign onto Trump’s lower emissions plan. Do you think Delrahim’s antitrust minions would be launching an antitrust investigation? I don’t either.The very idea that an automaker can violate antitrust laws by adhering to higher emissions standards is ludicrous. The theory is that the four companies may have talked to each other and then approached California with a proposal. This is apparently evidenced by the fact that the state agreed to lower its emissions standards by a small amount. I have no doubt that the companies consulted with each other before talking to California. No company wants to go up against Trump alone; it makes perfect sense that they would want to band together. It also makes sense that they would negotiate with the state, just as any regulated industry might. That behavior is hardly an antitrust violation.The Journal story also said that the Justice Department fears the deal would limit competition. But for decades, federal and state emissions regulations have kept automakers from courting buyers by competing on emissions standards -- at least on lower ones. The competition that has existed has long been to produce cars that exceed the emissions standards. That kind of competition will remain robust only if automakers wind up abiding by California’s standards.The truth, of course, is that Trump is at war with California, and has been since he took office. California voted overwhelming for Hillary Clinton. California is a blue state. California is in the vanguard of the resistance. (In May, California filed its 50th lawsuit against the Trump administration.)Battling emissions standards is part of that war. It is widely expected that the administration will soon attempt to revoke California’s ability to set its own emissions standards, and declare that they are “preempted” by federal law. This will undoubtedly lead to a court fight, though as my colleague Noah Feldman has pointed out, California’s waiver was built into the Clean Air Act by Congress. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency really doesn’t have the legal right to withdraw the waiver, but that reality has rarely stopped Trump before.Automakers are now in an awful spot. They’d all made their peace with higher emissions standards, which also allows them to be good corporate citizens. They are technologically capable of meeting the standards. They can satisfy environmentally--conscious car buyers. Because the California standards are followed by 15 other states, automakers have largely used its standards for the entire country. It’s really a nonissue.Or it was until Trump decided to roll back the higher standards the Obama administration had proposed. The California standards offer predictability and certainty. The Trump plan creates uncertainty. It is exactly what companies don’t need, and don’t want.The Justice Department’s decision to scrutinize the agreement between California and the four car companies injects another kind of uncertainty -- a more menacing kind. It suggests that Trump will use the power of the state to bend companies to his will. That’s what happens in places like Russia, or China. It’s not supposed to happen in the U.S.Companies need to know that they can count on the rule of law. There is hardly anything more important. That’s the scariest part of what the antitrust division appears to be doing. Investigating companies for seemingly political reasons makes a mockery of the fundamental idea that the U.S. has a government of laws, not thugs.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
For the 2019 model year, the BMW X5 is all new, and that is a very good thing. '2 Dudes in a Car' takes the new X5 for a spin.