Alongside our daily news coverage, features and interviews, the Just Auto team now also sifts through the week’s most intriguing data sets to bring you a roundup of the week in numbers. This week saw GlobalData analysis of China’s 2023 market and industry data, the latest GM quarterly financials and UK car production numbers and Tesla was in the news for a change.

Speaking of Tesla…

In the wake of Tesla’s latest quarterly results, the company’s share price took another slide. Sales and profits disappointed investors again, but so did the outlook – which is for growth of Tesla sales to moderate in 2024. The gloomier investor and analyst sentiment around Tesla is understandable right now. However, there is a need for a broader perspective when assessing how the company has been performing and where it stands. The problem is perhaps more with unrealistic expectations. Tesla’s achievements – in overall automotive industry terms – are still pretty remarkable. It has come out of nowhere to be a leading player as a global vehicle manufacturer with a market cap valuation (still) way in excess of the established players. On the share price, a correction was always on the cards at some point when the market realised there are limitations to Tesla’s growth and that a dynamic industry will pose new challenges for the company. Tesla is not, after all, immune to the challenges faced by all in a sector under considerable pressure. Tesla, though, is indisputably a leader in BEVs and has secured something of a first mover advantage with its winning designs and clever brand messaging – just as electric vehicle demand began to significantly grow in the 2020s. The established OEMs were ‘caught napping’ as one analyst put it, happy with the relatively easy returns from tried and tested ICE-based products sold on the traditional OEM-dealer-customer trading model. Tesla has shaken things up, especially in the US.

Aptiv backs off Motional

US autonomous driving technology company Aptiv said it planned to cut its shareholding in the Motional joint venture with Hyundai Motor Group to reset its capital investment priorities and future growth strategy, according to media reports. Motional was established in 2020 as a 50:50 joint venture focused on the development of autonomous driving technology with each partner investing US$2bn. The company’s mission was to make “driverless vehicles a safe, reliable and accessible reality”. Aptiv, based in Ireland, said it would not inject any further capital into the loss making joint venture after the company postponed the launch of a commercial robotaxi service based on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 battery electric vehicle (BEV).

Volvo Cars profitable

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By GlobalData

Geely controlled Volvo Cars said it had a record breaking year in 2023 and this week reported the highest full year retail sales, revenue and operating profit in its 97 year history. Sales of a record 708,716 cars boosted revenue 21% year on year to SEK399.3bn for full year 2023. Operating profit, excluding joint ventures and associates, rose 43% to SEK 25.6bn while operating margin, also excluding JVs and associates, rose to 6.4% from 5.4% in 2022. Volvo sold 113,419 fully electric cars in 2023, up 70%, accounting for 16% of its total global sales while its share of the global electric market rose 34%.

Hyundai eLCV deal with Iveco

Hyundai Motor and Iveco have signed a supply agreement for an Iveco-badged all-electric light commercial vehicle (LCV) for Europe, based on Hyundai’s Global eLCV platform. The new vehicle will join Iveco Group’s electric light commercial vehicle lineup, enhancing the group’s LCV portfolio alongside the Iveco Daily panel van. Hyundai Motor and Iveco Group initiated their partnership in March 2022. The firms said this new agreement signifies an extension of their partnership to encompass a broader array of eco-friendly lineups.

Korea January sales are in

Domestic sales by South Korea’s five main automakers combined fell 2% to 102,987 units in January 2024 from 100,751 a year earlier, according to preliminary wholesale data released individually by the manufacturers. January sales were supported by a 15% rebound in Kia sales to 44,867 units, after a sharp fall in December, which helped offset a 3% decline in Hyundai sales to 49,819 units. GM Korea continued to enjoy strong demand for its new Trax model, with overall domestic sales jumping by 183% to 2,894 units from weak year earlier volume, while KG Mobility sales plunged 47% to 3,762 units and Renault Korea was down 22% to 1,645 units.

Be afraid

China moved ahead of Japan to become the world’s largest exporter of vehicles in 2023 as the country’s automakers stepped up worldwide expansion. According to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM), 4.91m new vehicles were exported from China last year, up 58% from the 3.11m units exported in 2022 and more than double the 2.02m shipped in 2021. Data from the Chinese Customs Department put the 2023 export figure even higher, at 5.22m, up 57%.

VW AI

VW has established a specialised “AI Lab” – a new business unit and company – that will act as a globally networked competence centre and incubator, it says. The ‘AI Lab’ will identify new product ideas for the Volkswagen Group, and coordinate them internally within the Group. According to needs, VW says this will also include collaboration with the tech sector in Europe, China and North America. By adopting this approach, the Volkswagen Group says it intends to simplify collaboration with technology companies with a view to making optimum use of the innovation potential and speed of the AI sector. The objective is to rapidly develop digital prototypes and transfer them to VW Group brands for implementation.

Germany sluggish

German car sales are lagging the recovery in the global passenger car market with 2024 sales expected to be 25% below pre-pandemic levels, Reuters reported, citing data from German auto association VDA. The VDA reportedly expects the global passenger car market to grow by 2% this year to 77.4m cars, close to the pre-pandemic level of 78.8m. Germany’s passenger car market is expected to shrink by 1% to 2.82m, still a quarter smaller than before the pandemic, the association told Reuters.

Elon again

Headline grabbing CEO Elon Musk is in the news again, this time because his huge Tesla pay package has apparently been voided by a US judge after a shareholder challenged it. Musk can appeal, but the ruling by a Delaware judge said that the record-breaking $56bn Tesla multi-year compensation package for the CEO was ‘unfathomable’. Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta filed the lawsuit five years ago, accusing the company’s chief executive of improperly dictating negotiations around the compensation package and claimed that the board acted without independence. “Never incorporate your company in the state of Delaware,” Musk responded on social media platform X (formerly Twitter). Delaware Judge Kathaleen McCormick backed the shareholder.

China moving in

BYD has signed a preliminary sales and purchase agreement for its planned electric car factory in Szeged, Hungary. This will be the first passenger car manufacturing facility established in Europe by a Chinese OEM. Construction of the facility will be in stages, with the factory open and operational within three years, producing a “comprehensive range of eco-friendly models”.

GM’s Q4

General Motors has reported fourth quarter 2023 revenue of US$43bn (down 0.3% year on year, net income of $2.1bn (up 5.2%) and EBIT-adjusted of $1.8bn (down 53.8%). According to Reuters, GM said the decrease reflected the impact of last autumn’s United Auto Workers’ strikes, higher costs at Cruise and a $1.1bn writedown related to EV battery cells held in stock. Full year 2023 revenue was $171.8bn (up 9.6%), net income $10.1bn (up 1.9%) and EBIT-adjusted $12.4bn (down 14.6%).

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, Just Auto