The Automakers That Have Won Big or Lost Ground Going Into 2021

(Bloomberg) - If you'd asked automakers in April or May about the outlook for the rest of 2020, the answers would have been dire.
Plants around the world shut down, production stopped, workers took leave, sales plummeted and billions of dollars lost. Early estimates by IHS Markit had barely hit 12 million new vehicles in the US by the end of the year.
Many automakers had come back by December - and a few more. IHS now predicts that 14.5 million new car units will be sold in the US this year, a decrease of around 3 million units from 2019. Cox Automotive puts the number at 14.4 million, which corresponds to a decrease of 15.3% compared to the previous year.
"It's still a pretty big drop," says Stephanie Brinley, automotive analyst at IHS Markit, "but better than we thought it would happen in March when we close the country."
It turns out that Americans still want to buy new cars. They also buy houses, classic cars, and a lot of fancy things in general.
Brinley says the federal incentive, as well as improved online sales and configurators, and pent-up consumers with time and yearning to get out of it, were being credited: “People who were already interested in buying a new car did it anyway Covid situation. "
Some automakers have responded better to changing markets than others. The pandemic has allowed them to stop producing cars that haven't made money, curb incentives, cut budgets for efficiency, and become more disciplined in terms of supply and demand. Some could even come out of the pandemic stronger, says Kevin Tynan, senior automotive analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.
"Our total sales may not be 17 [million], but it's a lot healthier than 17.5 million, and 30% of that was from unprofitable cars," says Tynan. "We've spent decades trying to achieve this."
Final reports will be in early January, but from that near-year-end view, it's easy to see which automakers and brands in the US looked stronger - and which weren't - under the circumstances.
In creating this list, we took into account all the aspects that make an automobile manufacturer and certain brands healthy: sales rates, market share, depth and diversity of portfolio offerings, position of a brand within its holding company, quality and performance of its products and additional analysis from Bloomberg Intelligence , IHS Markit and Cox Automotive.
According to a December 14 report by Cox Automotive analyst Vanessa Ton, Hyundai Hyundai Motor Co. was one of the biggest US market share givers in 2020.
Hyundai managed to reach younger, wealthier customers with higher credit scores, Ton says. Almost 45% of Hyundai buyers have household incomes over $ 100,000, compared with 33% in 2015; and 30% are between 18 and 44 years old, compared to 24% in 2015.
"Hyundai has for years bolstered its affordability and fuel efficiency images while putting a story of mediocre quality in the rearview mirror," Ton wrote in her year-end analysis. "In times of economic uncertainty, the value proposition is essential."
Tesla's top performing automotive stocks this year were electric startups like Nio, Li Auto, and at times Nikola. But they all still pale against 17-year-old incumbent Tesla Inc., whose shares rose as much as 700% in 2020 and who is shaping millionaires out of his most loyal fans. On December 21, the company was included in the S&P 500 index. (It was such a big change that S&P Dow Jones Indices debated whether to add Tesla all at once or in two separate parts.)
With a value of up to 649 billion US dollars - which is more than the total value of the seven largest automobile manufacturers in the world at the beginning of 2020 - Tesla is the most valuable automobile company in the world.
Tesla has announced that it will deliver half a million of its cars and SUVs this year that are sufficiently engineered to achieve cult status. (About 180,000 cars of these cars would have to arrive in the last quarter to hit that number.) Much of that demand is being driven by China, which sells more electric vehicles than anywhere else. Still to come: That Blade Runner-esque cybertruck we've heard about for over a year.
General Motors and Ford
General Motors Co. is the largest old automaker in the country. The company posted $ 4 billion in earnings in the third quarter and was preparing for a brave future through 2020. It announced plans to produce 30 models of electric vehicles by 2025, starting with the gold standards for Detroit auto enthusiasts: Cadillac and Hummer. Overall, GM has already begun spending a total of $ 27 billion to redesign 40% of its lineup.
Ford Motor Co. posted net income of $ 2.4 billion for the third quarter of this year. It has already shown signs of a possible spike in earnings growth thanks to its Global Redesign initiative (which streamlines overseas business and eliminates underperforming products) and an upcoming series of model debuts and announcements that include an electric pickup (expected 2022) , a modern SUV from Bronco and Bronco, and an electric SUV from Mustang Mach-E.
It helps both Ford and GM that full-size pickups specifically represent a $ 125 billion industry, while compact pickups represent an additional $ 22.4 billion, according to a study compiled by Tynan of Bloomberg Intelligence: “Trucks are almost 80% of [. the US automotive segment] by the end of this year. In the future it will be 90%. "
The pickup segment will be key to recovery for automakers and dealerships in 2021, Tynan continues. No other group can make profit so quickly. "The automakers who are falling behind are the ones who don't understand."
While Tesla may be out to “conquer hamlets, fight these little battles with electric vehicles and the Model 3,” he says, “Ford and GM are rolling the big artillery into the battlefields from pickups - they're ready for this Electric vehicles. "
This year, PorschePorsche AG presented a whopping 17 new model iterations, including the next-generation Porsche 911 and other versions of its electric Taycan sedan. That number rises to 33 new models if you add updates during the cycle such as 16 Panamera variants in addition to other new Panamera models such as the Panamera 4S E-Hybrid in the sedan, Executive and Sport Turismo variants and the Panamera Turbo S.
It's a very confusing overview - but very effective. Apart from the fact that the Porsche 911 Turbo S was named the best new car of the year, Porsche achieved sales of 19.4 billion euros (23.7 billion US dollars) and a return on sales of 10, 4 percent. This is an achievement that Porsche executives rightly call a success. That means: more than 25,400 911 were delivered - an increase of 1% compared to 2019.
Michigan-based Rivian has positioned itself perfectly in 2020 to capitalize on the coming wave of electric pickups. As of 2019, the company has received $ 6 billion in infusions from companies like and Ford themselves. By July, Rivian had the $ 2.85 billion it raised throughout 2019 with one from T Rowe Price Associates Inc.
Whether this will lead to success when the Rivian R1T arrives in summer 2021, one thing is certain: Tesla is on the offensive. In July, she sued Rivian for alleged poaching and theft of trade secrets. Shortly afterwards, former Tesla employee Nick Kalayjian joined Rivian to oversee engineering and the product.
Nissan In May, Nissan reported its first loss in a decade and its largest loss in 20 years. By Nov. 12, Nissan had started flattening its decline, but is forecasting a $ 3.2 billion operating loss for the fiscal year ended March, which is likely the biggest blow for a major automaker.
Realize that the company is in the early stages of a massive cost-cutting and turnaround plan.
And a lack of exciting product: even the leading Nissan GTR fared poorly in its latest Bloomberg test. Despite the fact that there are rumors of a possible Nissan electric truck, it has not been able to keep up with the truck segment so far: US sales of the full-size Nissan Titan pickup dropped 24% to 19,403 in the first three quarters back this year, compared to more than 589,000 deliveries of the victorious Ford F-Series pickup truck, down just 11% over the same period.
"You are represented in every segment, but the model in no segment. There is always something else that is always a little better," says Tynan of Bloomberg Intelligence. "There's an identity crisis about what exactly Nissan is and why I should buy it. I don't know the answer to that anymore. I think they have a lot of things that just 'worked'."
Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist and senior director of Industry Insights at Cox Automotive, agrees.
"Nissan is plagued by legacy products and sharp drops in fleet sales along with ongoing management issues," he said via email, noting that things should improve in 2021. "New Rogue, Frontier and Pathfinder are slated to roll out in the coming months, so more consumer interest should follow. Fleet activity should increase in 2021 so this could improve Nissan's overall sales as well."
A Nissan representative said the brand is fully committed to Nissan Next, the plan launched in 2020 to build a more sustainable business.
"New models like the all-new Sentra and Rogue launched this year show that we are focused on delivering what our customers want with the safety, technology, design and value that meet their expectations exceeds, "the spokesman said in a statement emailed. "You will see this continued shift in Nissan showrooms in 2021 with five more new models, along with an ongoing focus on putting the customer first in everything we do."
Maserati and Alfa Romeo While parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has popular pickups like the Ram to tap into the lucrative trucking market, the overlooked, underpopular brands Alfa Romeo and Maserati have nothing to offer to celebrate that hatchback party. In fact, brands that have fallen behind in the transition to the next era in the industry (autonomous driving and electromobility at an accessible level) have lagged behind in the stock market, and FCA's Maserati and Alfa Romeo fall into that category.
Despite public comments from the FCA about their commitment to these brands, Tynan expects they could be packaged and sold soon. "I don't know that you necessarily want them, I don't know where they necessarily fit in the [FCA] portfolio." Maserati, he continues, "is not the brand - just not, either in terms of performance or in terms of luxury, in its segment." Alfa presents a similar story: "It's good for what it is ... but what is it?"
Chesbrough said similarly, “The [FCA] portfolio is old and too small for the current market where trucks are for it and gasoline prices are low. Fiat sales have dropped significantly in 2020 and the supply of days continues to grow. "
Maria Conti, Chief Communications Officer at Maserati, replied that Maserati is leaving behind the dark days of 2020 that lie ahead in 2021. It refers to its first electrified model, an updated line-up and an expanded V8 Trofeo series as well as a “basis for a new era” with a new product offensive linked to the MC20 super sports car “100% made in Modena” announced in September . "Our future is bright."
The representatives of Alfa Romeo disrespectfully disagree with their place on this list and refer to new connected infotainment systems with standard 8.8-inch touchscreens in all 2020 models. "In the last quarter, our sales were up 17%," said Bob Broderdorf, director of Alfa Romeo Sales at FCA North America, in a statement sent via email. He added that Alfa Romeo's sales fell 6% from January to October 2020, while the relevant premium segment fell 16%. "This clearly shows that we are capturing a net market share and increasing our market share every month this year."
On December 14th, the company announced the Alfa Romeo 4C Tributo Edition, which pays homage to the iconic 33 Stradale and is a nod to all passionate Alfa Romeo fans in the USA. Next year, according to Broderdorf, the company will start production in Italy of the brand new Alfa Romeo Tonale, the brand's first plug-in hybrid. Time will tell if it works.
Jaguar Land RoverOnce, a bastion of stylish sedans, powerful roadsters and legendary off-roaders, Jaguar owned by Tata Motors suffered in 2020, although its problems have long stemmed from overinvestment in production capacity, especially for sedans that are unpopular today. It is far from making memorable vehicles to chase market trends. Meanwhile, demand for Land Rover's diesel vehicles has stalled, sales in China have plummeted, and Brexit will make things worse.
The new electrical products like the Jaguar i-Pace are so far unforgettable. As great as the F-Type was when it debuted, it needs an update. "Jag is just ... I don't think anyone cares," says Tynan. "It's a brand with a legacy that has completely moved away from the legacy that cars were - sedans and sedans - and now it's nondescript, oddly named, crossover, weird stuff." The problem is not that Jaguar added SUVs to its range, but that it didn't do a very good job.
Land Rover suffers from a non-diverse portfolio that will hurt it for years to come, even with the arrival of the new Defender in 2020. "With such a limited product portfolio on the Land Rover side, what more can you do to grow?" asks Tynan. "You may have your Hamptons market share, but what other white space do you have to add new products to?"
Not much, it seems. Especially when much of the US market is picking up.
Jaguar Land Rover representatives remain optimistic that 2021 will bring "an exciting new line of products", including major updates to the Jaguar F-Pace and E-Pace, Range Rover Velar and Land Rover Discovery expanded with electrified options 12 of the 13 models in their product range.
"For the quarter ended September 30th, the company posted over 50% quarter-over-quarter revenue growth and strong cash flow earnings of £ 463 million ($ 620.8 million)," said spokesman Jeffrey Jablansky in an email. "We announced that sales, revenue and profitability recovery will continue into the second half of our fiscal year ending March 31, 2021."
SSC Automotive
In October, the Richland, Washington-based supercar maker wowed the world with reports of a new world record for speed. The subsequent video analysis, however, revealed inconsistencies with details of SSC's record run.
Now the race is on. Texas-based Hennessey has announced that it will use its new Venom F5 for a high-speed test in 2021 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center shuttle landing facility in Florida.
SSC founder Jerrod Shelby has announced that he will repeat his run - but will in the meantime lose millions of dollars on early orders at SSC Tuatara. And while SSC waits to correct the reporting errors and schedule another try, Hennessey can just stop by and claim the record for himself. Talk about tension. SSC did not respond to a request for comment before this story was published.
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