EVs

Planet of the Humans

Planet of the Humans is Michael Moore’s latest documentary which slays renewable energy – wind, solar & biomass – as well as electric vehicles which rely so heavily on fossil fuels in their production.

Think of it as Crony Capitalism 101.

Know your history

BBC reports that the UK intends to introduce E10 ethanol based fuel. Before going ahead they should reflect on the disaster that befell Germany when it introduced the eco-friendly gasoline.

The German authorities went big for bio-fuels in 2008 forcing gas stands to install E-10 pumps to cut CO2. However as many as 3 million cars at the time weren’t equipped to run on it and as a result consumers abandoned it leaving many gas stands with shortages of the petrol and gluts of E-10 which left the petrol companies liable to huge fines (around $630mn) for not hitting government targets.

Claude Termes, a member of European Parliament from the Green Party in Luxembourg said in 2008 that “legally mandated biofuels were a dead end…the sooner It disappears, the better…my preference is zero…policymakers cannot close their eyes in front of the facts. The European Parliament is increasingly skeptical of biofuels.” Even ADAC told German drivers to avoid using E10 when traveling in other parts of continental Europe.

But governments always know best. Apparently.

Vale Holden

Car maker Holden has been executed. The American parent said the brand dies at the end of 2020. Not a big deal for GM – La Salle, McLaughlin, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Hummer, Saab, Saturn and Vauxhall no longer exist under her garage.

PM Scott Morrison can complain all he wants about the $2bn in subsidies given to keep the car maker afloat but it was on the nose since the maker closed manufacturing in October 2017. Market share all but evaporated. It was a matter of time.

GM never got Australia. Selling a front wheel drive 4-cylinder Commodore to replace the working class aspirational V8 was a mistake. No matter how brilliant the replacement was, it didn’t resonate. As a result these cars flooded the rent-a-car market and had among the worst resale out there.

There is no surprise that Holden was terminated. Aussie sales were the worst in decades. It was a regular Top 3 maker but in its dying days slumped to 12th. Market share shrunk to 3.1%, the lowest in history. Commodore sales in November 2019 crashed 56%.

Interestingly, the desirability of the last of the HSV models based on the Commodore will jump further with scarcity value. Just like this example. $300,000. Who would have thought?

Mt Panorama won’t be the same.

BoJo’s EV adventure by 2035 is risky

Image result for ev charger nullarbor

There is a lot of irony when studying electric vehicles (EVs) and government policy. The lack of consultation with the very industry it seeks to regulate is mind-boggling. This picture of an EV charging station powered by a diesel generator along the Nullarbor highlights how poor the thought processes are. The problem governments face is that they are starting with a narrative and trying to reverse engineer the data to fit it. Sadly, the market will ultimately decide – that means consumers.

3 years ago we met with an EV parts supplier, Schaeffler AG, which openly admitted the task to meet the government EV demands was being impeded by their own desire to out virtue signal each other.

Schaeffler said, 200 cities across Europe had EV policies as distinct as the other. Therefore carmakers were struggling to meet all of the non-standardised criteria which was driving up production costs and making EVs even further out of reach. Instead of all working for the “same” outcome, the parts suppliers were saying until governments came to a sensible balance, the delays would continue.

The irony is that the broad range of EVs available in the market is too narrow. Of course we can argue in 15 years that will have vastly changed. The question is whether production can keep up.

First of all, governments around the world tend to generate around 5% of total tax revenues from fuel excise. You’d be a fool to think that EVs won’t end up being stung with a similar registration tax to offset it. It is already happening. Cash strapped Illinois has proposed the introduction of a $1,000 annual registration fee (up from $17.50) to account for the fact EVs don’t pay such fuel taxes.

Secondly, the UK government may well have to introduce cash-for-clunkers style subsidies to entice people to ditch their petrol power for an EV. Because, unless someone owns a classic car, the second most expensive household asset will be near worthless meaning many may not bother to switch by 2035. That will put huge pressure on the auto industry and dealers to convert sales.

Third, the infrastructure to be able to charge millions of EVs overnight will need significant upgrades, especially to the power grid. If the UK wants to go down the renewables path good luck in meeting the surges in demand because EV charging will be highly random. People won’t be happy to be sitting at home waiting for a charge and realising that 200,000 others want to do so at the same time on a cloudy day with no wind.

Then there are the automakers. While they are all making politically correct statements about their commitments to go full EV, they do recognise that ultimately customers will decide their fate. A universal truth is that car makers do their best to promote their drivetrains as a performance differentiator to rivals. Moving to full EV removes that unique selling property. Volkswagen went out of its way to cheat the system which not only expressed their true feelings about man-made climate change but hidden within the $80bn investment is the 3 million EVs in 2042 would only be c.30% of VW’s total output today. Even Toyota said it would phase out internal combustion in the 2040s. Dec 31st, 2049 perhaps? Mercedes have vowed to keep diesel and petrol on the menu out to 2050.

Put simply, why is the government trying to dictate the technology to an industry that has made such amazing advancements in safety and technology? By all means, have a zero-emissions target by 2035 but offer the industry complete technological freedom to achieve it. The consumers will ultimately decide and if carmakers are forced to meet a target that was based on ill-advised government policy, we shouldn’t be surprised if dealers are forced to close or car makers requiring bailouts.

Also at 2m vehicles a sold annually in the UK, it won’t get to dictate where car makers allocate their global EV inventory. If easier market conditions – based on the available output and cost per vehicle to meet the standards – are found in the US, China or Germany, the costs to Brits to make the shift will make the 2035 target even more pointless. Pricing themselves out of the market.

However, it won’t much matter because many of the politicians making the move won’t be in government come 2035 to clean up the mess.

Extinction Rebellion trashes Auto Show

These climate activists are unhinged lunatics. This is the justification that Extinction Rebellion (XR) used for trashing the Brussels Autosalon was as follows,

The truth is, no car is green…The private car is no longer compatible with the Climate and Ecological Crisis….Governments must stop pouring billions into roads and instead make mass public transport affordable, accessible, reliable and convenient.

The Brussels Times reported that 187 were arrested and charged €2,000 each. Febiac, the auto show organizer, said XR’s display at the event caused a whopping €367,829 in damages.

There is a difference between protesting and breaking the law by trashing private property.

Febiac, to its credit, gave XR approval to protest under certain guidelines. The organizer’s Joost Kaesemans said, “We sat together with people from Extinction Rebellion for the salon, we told them they could hold a demo, sing songs and hand out brochures...But we also told them that if they bothered visitors and wreaked havoc, we would take measures. They did not stick to that, so there are consequences.”

So even when the organizers play ball, the fools of XR think they have carte blanche to act as they please. Hopefully XR protestors are forced to pay up, serve time and get handed a bill for wasting the time of the police.

If only XR protests were about saving the planet and not seek to control the way others live their lives.

One final question – does XR have a strategy to re-employ the 15mn that work in auto related industries? Of course not.

This is why governments should shut up

FNF Media has always held that the brains that brought ABS, airbags, lane departure warning and so on do not require lectures from politicians about which technology must be adopted.

Did any of the above technologies arrive from the will of a government department? No. So when we heard that governments around the world were trying to ban fossil fuel cars we were disappointed.

All governments needed to do was say that we want zero emissions by 2040 and you have total technological freedom as to how to hit those targets. Necessity is the mother of invention.

F1 has this mindset firmly in its sights. It realizes that the noise is part of the thrill. Listen to Formula-E and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped into a Dyson vacuum cleaner showroom with all the models switched on at once.

According to Motorsport Magazine,

Formula 1 is looking to introduce two-stroke engines that run on eco-fuel by the middle of the decade, as it develops plans to become carbon neutral.

The proposal is said to make the sport greener than electric racing series, such as Formula E, while still using internal combustion engines — with improved sound.

Current F1 hybrid engines will be replaced by a new specification of power unit from 2025 or 2026. It will play a significant role in Formula 1’s project to become carbon neutral in 2030.

The new engines are likely to remain hybrids but powered by synthetic fuel, made by combining hydrogen with carbon captured from the air, using surplus green energy.

As well as the cars, this e-fuel could power the planes that carry the cars and equipment to races, making a big dent in the sport’s carbon footprint.

Research presented at the conference showed that electric racing cars could be responsible for twice the level of carbon emissions as hybrid racing cars, because of the amount produced when building the batteries.”

Just proves that humans have the power to ignite passion into solutions. We don’t need politicians, many who have shorter expiry dates than UHT milk, to push policy prescriptions without the slightest understanding of the very industry they seek to regulate.

Tesla worth more than major brands with 1,046 years of combined experience

Wonderful to see Wall St bull at its finest. Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research put a 2030 price target of $4,000 on Tesla or around 10x the current price.

Amazing to think that he believes that Tesla would be worth 25% more than Toyota, VW, BMW, Daimler, Ferrari, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, GM & Fiat-Chrysler combined.

Sure, that’s plausible. Who wouldn’t believe that the industrial might of the aforementioned world’s most respected brands – with a combined 1,046 years of production expertise – will be worth less than a company who is led by a dope smoking CEO who cares little for corporate governance?

That isn’t to say innovation and disruption can’t end a millennia of progress. The only problem is the market fails to realize is that Toyota invests 10x what Tesla does in electric vehicle R&D every year and had its research geeks develop solid state lithium ion batteries for fun.

Tesla Cybertruck maybe a Faux by Faux but should sell well

Image result for tesla truck

Tesla released its pick-up truck this week. Polarising is one word for it. Almost every motoring hack and stock analyst slammed it.

CM thinks Musk had to be bold. Although CM can’t stand Tesla on pretty much every level, especially governance, this truck could do very well. It may not pull the heartstrings of the Mid West pick up loving Trump voters but it will have a market.

The type of people that who will buy it will never use them for hauling loads of machinery or logs. The heaviest payload will be two grande caramel lattes with extra shots. This is a car which people who were thinking of a Model S will buy this instead.

It’s the perfect car for a virtue signaling world where one wishes to stand out and be noticed. It is a Faux by Faux. It screams look at me and it won’t be long before a Ford & GM make bold statements of their own.

So well done Elon. The order numbers will tell the picture of received wisdom and may do much better than many anticipate.

Pure genius. And the broken glass just got him 1,000,000s more hits on social media.

This can only end in tears

ECB.png

As Sweden’s economy slows to the worst economic growth rate in 5 years under a negative interest rate policy, one would think the Swedish Central Bank (Riksbank) would be seeking to prudently manage its asset book on the basis of appropriate risk/reward as opposed to lecturing Australia and Canada on their respective carbon footprints. What we are witnessing is yet another discrete move by authorities to manipulate markets based on fantasy rather than fact.  The hypocrisy is extreme as we shall discover.

While the Riksbank should have complete freedom in how it wishes to deploy capital, we should view this is a pathetic sop to the cabal at the European Central Bank (ECB). Since when did central bankers become experts on climate change? The RBA is no better. Deputy Governor, Guy Debelle, gave a speech in March 2019 on the risks posed by climate change which based prophecies on the data accident-prone IPCC and Bureau of Meteorology. Why not seek balance? Easier to fold to group think so as not to be outed as a pariah. Utterly gutless. Our own APRA is also pushing this ridiculous agenda on climate change reporting. It is willful negligence.

While it is true that on a per capita basis, Australia and Canada’s emissions are higher than the global average, why doesn’t the Riksbank give us credit for lowering that amount 11.4% since 2000? Even Canada has reduced its carbon emissions by 7.3% over the last 18 years. Admittedly Sweden’s emissions per capita have fallen 21.9% according to the IEA. Greta will be happy.

Why hasn’t the Riksbank taken China or India to task for their 169.9% or 94.7% growth in CO2 emissions respectively? There are plenty of oil-producing nations – Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman that have worse per capita outcomes than Australia or Canada. Do these countries get special dispensation from the wrath of the Riksbank? Clearly.

The US has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. If the US has marginally lower emissions per capita (15.74t/CO2-e) than Australia (16.45t/CO2-e), isn’t a double standard to write,

The conditions for active climate consideration are slightly better in our work with the foreign exchange reserves. To ensure that the foreign exchange reserves fulfil their purpose, they need to consist of assets that can be rapidly converted to money even when the markets are not functioning properly. Our assessment is that the foreign exchange reserves best correspond to this need if they consist of 75 per cent US government bonds, 20 per cent German and 5 per cent British, Danish and Norwegian government bonds.

Essentially Riksbank commitment to climate change is conditional. The US which is responsible for 13.8% of global emissions can be 75% of holdings. Australia at 1.3% can’t. No doubt sacrificing Queensland Treasury Corp, WA Treasury Corp and Albertan bonds from a Riksbank balance sheet perspective will have little impact on the total. In short, it looks to be pure tokenism. The Riksbank has invested around 8% of its foreign exchange reserves in Australian and Canadian central and federal government bonds. So perhaps at the moment, it is nothing but substitution from state to federal. Why not punish NSW TCorp for being part of a state that has 85%+ coal-fired power generation?

At the very least the Riksbank admits its own hypocrisy.

The Riksbank needs to develop its work on how to take climate change into consideration in asset management. For instance, we need a broader and deeper analysis of the issuers’ climate footprint. At the same time, one must remember that the foreign exchange reserves are unavoidably dominated by US and German government bonds. The Riksbank’s contribution to a better development of the climate will, therefore, remain small. This is entirely natural. The important decisions on how climate change should be counteracted in Sweden are political and should be taken by the government and the Riksdag (parliament).

Still, what hope have we got when Benoît Cœuré, member of the Executive Board of the ECB, lecturing those on “Scaling up Green Finance: The Role of Central Banks.” He noted,

2018 has seen one of the hottest summers in Europe since weather records began. Increasing weather extremes, rising sea levels and the Arctic melting are now clearly visible consequences of human-induced warming. Climate change is not a theory. It is a fact.

Reading more of this report only confirms the commitment of the ECB to follow the UN’s lead and deliberately look to misallocate capital based on unfounded claims of falling crop yields and rising prices (the opposite is occurring) and rising hurricane and drought activity (claims that even the IPCC has admitted there is little or no evidence by climate change). Sweden is merely being a well-behaved schoolboy.

Cœuré made the explicit claim, “The ECB, together with other national central banks of the Eurosystem, is actively supporting the European Commission’s sustainable finance agenda.

CM thinks the biggest problem with this “agenda” is that it risks even further misallocation of capital within global markets already drowning in poorly directed investment. It isn’t hard to see what is going on here. It is nothing short of deliberate market manipulation by trying to increase the cost of funding to conventional energy using farcical concocted “climate risks” to regulate them out of existence.

Cœuré made this clear in his speech,

once markets and credit risk agencies price climate risks properly, the amount of collateralised borrowing counterparties can obtain from the ECB will be adjusted accordingly.

What do you know? On cue, Seeking Alpha notes,

Cutting €2bn of yearly investments, the European Union will stop funding oil, natural gas and coal projects at the end of 2021 as it aims to become the first climate-neutral continent.

All CM will say is best of luck with this decision. Just watch how this kneeling at the altar of the pagan god of climate change will completely ruin the EU economy. The long term ramifications are already being felt. The EU can’t escape the fact that 118mn of its citizens (up from 78m in 2007) are below the poverty line. That is 22% of the population. So why then does Cœuré mention, in spite of such alarming poverty, that taking actions (that will likely increase unemployment) will be helped by “migration [which] has contributed to dampening wage growth…in recent years, thereby further complicating our efforts to bring inflation back to levels closer to 2%.

Closer to home, the National Australia Bank (NAB) has joined in the groupthink by looking to phase out lending to thermal coal companies by 2035. The $760 million exposure will be cut in half by 2028. If climate change is such a huge issue why not look to end it ASAP? This is terrible governance.

Why not assess thermal coal companies on the merits of the industry’s future rather than have the acting-CEO Philip Chronican make a limp-wristed excuse that it is merely getting in line with the government commitment to Paris? If lending to thermal coal is good for shareholders in 2036, who cares what our emissions targets are (which continue to fall per capita)? Maybe this is industry and regulator working hand-in-hand?

The market has always been the best weighing mechanism for risk. Unfortunately, for the last two decades, global central bank policy has gone out of its way to prevent the market from clearing. Now it seems that the authorities are taking actions that look like collusion to bully the ratings agencies into marking down legitimate businesses that are being punished for heresy.

This will ironically only make them even better investments down the track when reality dawns, just as CM pointed out with anti-ESG stocks. Just expect the entry points to these stocks to be exceedingly cheap. Buy what the market hates. It looks as though the bureaucrats are set to make fossil fuel companies penny stocks.

Can we defund SBS too?

This isn’t journalism. This is alarmist quackery for the sake of it. Venice has been subject to flooding for centuries. While the floods in Venice now are the highest for over 50 years, it still means that floods were higher in 1966. Let that sink in. Presumably it wasn’t climate change driven back then.

One can only imagine what a Venice Council could possibly do to combat climate change? Perhaps ruin the skyline with wind turbines and solar panels atop the roofs of the Rialto Bridge or San Marco Square?? To alarmists, no amount of tokenism is too little. Claim a climate emergency and show how worthy you really are.

No matter what the Venice Council does to “combat” climate change it will have no effect. Maybe the gondola union can indulge in some crony capitalism and demand that the €7.50 Vaporetto passenger ferries are banned so they can charge €150 to go from Santa Croce to Piazza San Marco instead. At least gondolas are zero emission vessels.

The SBS needs to grow up and deliver proper well reasoned content for the $400m in taxpayer funds it receives.