When will it really make sense for Automakers to push EV sales?

Discussion in 'General' started by Mark W, May 14, 2018.

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  1. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    It seems that Tesla is currently the only automaker that is really interested in selling as many EVs as they can. Hopefully, they will get to a point soon where it makes sense for them to sell a Model 3 at $35,000.00.

    It seems that GM made quite an investment in producing the Bolt. I have heard though that they lose money on every one they sell. Is that true? They can't make money selling a $35,000 - $40,000 EV?

    Nissan has the Leaf. It starts at $30,000, but I would think most people would opt for one that costs around $35,000. Their sales have not been great in the U.S. yet for the new 2018 model. They don't seem to be making many deals on leases or purchases to push them.

    The Honda Clarity seems like a great car. Outside of Tesla, the one EV that has a roomy back seat and is luxurious inside. But the BEV has range of only 89 miles so it's clear they are not trying to really sell those, and the PHEV version is not selling well either. The Hyundai Ionic is a similar case although focused more on a lower price, trading luxury. Neither the BEV or PHEV seems to be available in numbers.

    This is all with a tax credits that in many states total almost $10,000! What happens when Tesla, GM, and Nissan lose the federal tax credit? I would think that would kill sales for GM and Nissan. I think right now, prices are high enough where demand is not too high, but prices can't be any lower because they don't make any money on them?

    I guess it's going to take an advance in battery technology to make it so they can sell BEV's profitably?
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  3. David Green

    David Green Well-Known Member

    We are getting closer and closer to profitable EV's.... GM actually makes money on the Bolt if you take out the sunk cost (investment of 275M) and only look at the "cost of goods sold". Because the Bolt is low production it is unlikely to ever pay back all of the "sunk cost" unless GM is able to utilize some or all of this investment on other vehicles, like the Buick coming on the same platform. That said the Bolt has been a great first BEV for GM, its usable, reliable, and has extremely low warranty cost compared to most of the GM fleet.

    Nissan, is making money on the leaf because of higher volumes... On the new model, the pipeline is still filling up, so I do not put too much stock into sales numbers for a few more months.

    Jaguar will be profitable on the I-Pace as they shared the Engineering and Factory investment with Magna (and Waymo), however I understand the margins are thin on the base model, and pretty good on the upper range models. I think this is the roadmap to EV profitability, on the luxury side.

    In the future I expect Toyota and VW to go after the lower end mass market, with scale and cost control only a giant automaker could have.

    Tesla of course is the outlier, they have not proven anything to me yet as their quality is still below standard, although their cars are really cool. Tesla needs to really focus on quality, and I am not so encouraged with their most recent executive hirings. They need some guys from VW, Toyota, or GM to come in there and straighten up the factory and supply chain before the company will be able to generate sustained profitability, and be truly competitive in the mass market. Tesla is the best EV available (especially on the high end), but that is going to change very soon, with Jaguar in production, and Audi starting very soon, these guys just build a better car, plain and simple, and they are not trying to cheat the proven quality system the way Tesla does. I think Tesla losing the federal tax credit is going to be devastating, it just gives the Europeans a $7500 head start, and once the market compares their cars side by side to Tesla, it ain't going to be pretty. Something will have to be done politically, to protect Tesla and GM EV's, or as I would vote for get rid of the entire rebate program (divert that money into BEV transit and school buses to benefit lesser fortunate people), and let the manufacturers compete on their own merits... Or only give tax rebates on BEV's costing under 40K or 50K Pick your number... but a guy buying a $175K Tesla X P100DL does not need a tax rebate paid for by working class people. IMO

    I do not know anything about the Clarity, other then it looks like a nice car... I have not driven one yet.
  4. Mark W

    Mark W Active Member

    Thanks for your reply. I think the Jaguar I-Pace will be successful. The thing is, in the luxury segment, there is more room to make money, so I assume Jaguar has priced it to make money. The big key for all these automakers is that you don't want a situation where if they sell a Bolt they break even, but if they sell a Malibu they make $4000.00.

    So far, every new BEV that has been introduced in the past year that seems interesting, winds up being something that is either not available in all states, or the automaker is not interested in discounting it at all, because they don't make much money on them. I hope that changes soon.
  5. David Green

    David Green Well-Known Member

    You are correct, legacy automakers have yet to commit to high production EV's because of the battery cost, they are doing these low production models to learn and get experience with the technology, but do not be fooled, they are all working like crazy behind the scenes trying to figure out solutions to the cost problems. A typical car costs 1/3 of the sales price to build (labor and materials) 1/3 of the cost of the car is investment (plant property and equipment), and SGA-Warranty, and the last third is sales and profit. Now in EV's these numbers currently do not work because the battery is so expensive. In an EV today 60%+ or so of the price is cost of goods sold, and so makers have to squeeze the other areas, or try to charge more for the car. Jaguar went up market with the I-Pace, but not everyone can afford that car, so makers are going to have to learn to get their cost down. I think VW is really out in front on this, they are targeting low cost, high production EV's in the next 3 to 5 years. I also think Toyota is about to announce something big, from the rumors I have heard out of Japan.

    BTW, GM does not make 4k on a Malibu, unless it is a 1 off fully loaded, and no incentives. GM is happy to make $250 to $500 net on their sedans, many are not even making that. This is why more and more makers are getting out of sedans. The economy is booming in the largest car markets now, and if you cannot make money during these boom times, you are doing something wrong.

    I did some research on the Clarity after reading your earlier post, and am trying to arrange to test drive one. Looks like an interesting car to me.

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