The ECB’s Big Bazookas (TLTRO & QE)
The Eurozone is on the rocks again. In November, business activity fell to its lowest point in 16 months as the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped to 51.1. The Euro is at a 27 month low against the dollar. Unemployment is stuck at 11.5%.
Making matters worse, deflation is also knocking on the door. In November, prices rose just 0.3% from the previous year, which is far below the 2% target. Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London, says, “the data show(s) that the Japanification of the Eurozone remains apace.”
To combat this, The European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to pull out the big guns. The first big gun, in some of the best “Fedspeak” we’ve seen yet is called Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO). Banks are able to borrow from the ECB at very low rates if the money is eventually lent to companies, and not for mortgages or buying government debt.
However, since the TLTROs started, results have not been as the ECB has hoped. This is why Mario Draghi and his counterparts have hinted at a bigger bazooka, quantitative easing (QE), over the last few weeks. Tomorrow (Dec 4th) they may decide to finally pull the trigger at the ECB meeting, but some feel that is premature.
“Much like an elementary school student putting off their weekend homework in hopes of a ‘miracle’ snow day canceling school on Monday, the ECB can still hang it’s hopes on the mid-December TLTRO auction as a possible savior,” said Matt Weller, senior technical analyst at Forex.com, in a note.
Original graphic from: Saxo Markets
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Charted: Tesla’s Unrivaled Profit Margins
This infographic compares Tesla’s impressive profit margins to various Western and Chinese competitors.
Chart: Tesla’s Unrivaled Profit Margins
In January this year, Tesla made the surprising announcement that it would be cutting prices on its vehicles by as much as 20%.
While price cuts are not new in the automotive world, they are for Tesla. The company, which historically has been unable to keep up with demand, has seen its order backlog shrink from 476,000 units in July 2022, to 74,000 in December 2022.
This has been attributed to Tesla’s robust production growth, which saw 2022 production increase 41% over 2021 (from 930,422 to 1,313,851 units).
With the days of “endless” demand seemingly over, Tesla is going on the offensive by reducing its prices—a move that puts pressure on competitors, but has also angered existing owners.
Cranking up the Heat
Tesla’s price cuts are an attempt to protect its market share, but they’re not exactly the desperation move some media outlets have claimed them to be.
Recent data compiled by Reuters shows that Tesla’s margins are significantly higher than those of its rivals, both in terms of gross and net profit. Our graphic only illustrates the net figures, but gross profits are also included in the table below.
|Company||Gross profit per car||Net profit per car|
Data from Q3 2022
Price cutting has its drawbacks, but one could argue that the benefits for Tesla are worth it based on this data—especially in a critical market like China.
Tesla has taken the nuclear option to bully the weaker, thin margin players off the table.
– Bill Russo, Automobility
In the case of Chinese EV startups Xpeng and Nio, net profits are non-existent, meaning it’s unlikely they’ll be able to match Tesla’s reductions in price. Both firms have reported year-on-year sales declines in January.
As for Tesla, Chinese media outlets have claimed that the firm received 30,000 orders within three days of its price cut announcement. Note that this hasn’t been officially confirmed by anyone within the company.
Tit for Tat
Ford made headlines recently for announcing its own price cuts on the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. The model is a direct competitor to Tesla’s best-selling Model Y.
Chevrolet and Hyundai have also adjusted some of their EV prices in recent months, as listed in the following table.
|Model||Old Price||New Price||Discount|
|Tesla Model Y Long Range||$65,990||$53,490||18.9%|
|Chevrolet Bolt EUV 2023||$33,500||$27,200||18.8%|
|Tesla Model Y Performance||$69,990||$56,990||18.6%|
|Chevrolet Bolt 2023||$31,600||$26,500||16.1%|
|Tesla Model 3 Performance||$62,990||$53,990||14.3%|
|Hyundai Kona Electric 2022||$37,390||$34,000||9.1%|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Extended Range||$69,900||$64,000||8.4%|
|Tesla Model 3 Long Range||$46,990||$43,990||6.4%|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium AWD||$57,675||$53,995||6.4%|
|Ford Mustang Mach-E RWD Standard Range||$46,900||$46,000||1.9%|
Source: Observer (Feb 2023)
Volkswagen is a noteworthy player missing from this table. The company has been gaining ground on Tesla, especially in the European market.
We have a clear pricing strategy and are focusing on reliability. We trust in the strength of our products and brands.
– Oliver Blume, CEO, VW Group
This decision could hamper Volkswagen’s goal of becoming a dominant player in EVs, especially if more automakers join Tesla in cutting prices. For now, Tesla still holds a strong grip on the US market.
Recent Tesla buyers became outraged when the company announced it would be slashing prices on its cars. In China, buyers even staged protests at Tesla stores and delivery centers.
Recent buyers not only missed out on a better price, but their cars have effectively depreciated by the amount of the cut. This is a bitter turn of events, given Musk’s 2019 claims that a Tesla would be an appreciating asset.
I think the most profound thing is that if you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset – not a depreciating asset.
– Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla
These comments were made in reference to Tesla’s full self-driving (FSD) capabilities, which Elon claimed would enable owners to turn their cars into robotaxis.
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