The following automakers saw their sales drop in March 2019 compared to March 2018:
Alfa Romeo (−31%)
Those are the 15 automakers that saw sales drop across all categories/vehicle classes combined. In most cases, car sales were down even more than overall vehicle sales.
There were also 8 cases in which an overall automaker’s sales were up but its car sales were down year over year. Those carmakers were:
Subaru Cars (−22%)
Lincoln Cars (−17%)
BMW Cars (−15%)
Volvo Cars (−10%)
Hyundai Cars (−9%)
Acura Cars (−7%)
Audi Cars (−7%)
Lexus Cars (−6%)
There were only 4 automakers that saw overall growth year over year and also didn’t see a drop in car sales:
Meanwhile @ Tesla
Q1 2019 vs Q1 2018 - +110%
Q1 2019 vs Q4 2018 - -15%
We heard a ton about Tesla's quarter over quarter decline in sales from Q4 to Q1. Never mind that in the auto industry the 4th quarter tends to be the best for sales and the 1st Q the worst. Never mind that the tax credit for buying a Tesla was halved in Q1 from $7,500 to $3,750 guaranteeing front loading in the 4th quarter to take advantage of the full tax credit before it started to phase out. Never mind that Tesla spent most of the early part of the 1st quarter shipping M3s to Europe and China which takes longer than sticking them on a train or truck to ship to Chicago.
Hmmm... isn't that interesting? If Tesla is nearly bankwupt as the critics love to say, what do you say about all the legacy carmakers? Why don't we hear much about it? Why doesn't the market hammer those stocks? Tesla's in debt? Take a look at GM and Ford's balance sheets.
Some other things of note:
• GM has announced a 15% cut of its 54,000 North American salaried jobs, including a quarter of its global executives, and will end production at five North American plants in 2019. GM also said it would also close two other unidentified plants in 2019. Powertrain plants in Warren, MI and Baltimore don't have products assigned for them to build after next year either.
• Elsewhere, Tesla is building a massive new gigafactory in Shanghai on what is termed Chinese time meaning extremely fast. The new gigafactory is going up at a record pace. Tesla and the Chinese say the building will be up and operational and making cars by the end of 2019 at a cost of ~$500 million. Wall Street analysts scoffed at the initial announcement saying it would cost $2 billion and take 2-3 years to build. Tesla/Chinese officials have signed loan agreements to show and photos of buildings going up right now ahead of schedule. What do you have Wall Street?
• No question that Model X and Model S sales in the first quarter weren't a bright spot. Most analysts, and including some Tesla enthusiasts, have been saying the MX and MS are overdue for a refresh. It's coming. According to Electrek, the cabin interior's new design is already in the works. Yesterday, Electrek also stated that the MX/MS are to receive new, more efficient permanent magnet reluctance type motors like the M3, which are more efficient and will extend the range of both models without making any other changes.
• Revered auto teardown guru Sandy Munro was highly critical of the Model 3 when it first came out. The fit and finish didn't wow him. He has since changed his tune. Sandy has torn down a couple more M3s and you should hear him now. He has totally flipped. He LOVES how the M3 and Tesla cars in general handle. He's knocked over by how far ahead Tesla is in software. He thinks the cars are state of the art engineered. He also said that if he were 23-35 and wanted to drive fast you have to buy an electric car and Tesla makes the best ones. He also stated that Ford and GM are far behind and don't realize it. This is quite a turnaround.
• Musk just announced the most significant update to autopilot ever that is starting to roll out as I type this. I don't know what's in it, but Musk is awfully excited about it.
There is a recession coming and that can and will affect all things economic, but overall... Would you rather own a car made by a company that is expanding rapidly despite a disappointing quarter to quarter performance, or one that is showing a sustained decline in sales? Would you rather have a piece of a company that is opening new plants to move into new markets, or one that is closing down production capacity? Would you rather own stock in a company that takes on debt to expand, or one that takes out debt to finance stock buybacks and pay dividends? Would you rather own stock in a company that is pioneering a way to move ourselves around in an environmentally and cheaper way or one that clings to a century old technology because it fears hurting its balance sheet in the short term to reap huge rewards in the future? Short term or long term?
The answer is pretty obvious.