Aston Replaced Its Ousted CEO With A Ferrari Man

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Photo: Aston Martin

Aston has a new CEO, Ferrari made some coin, and Volvo. All that and more in today’s Morning Shift for May 4, 2022.

1st Gear: Aston’s New Guy

Aston got rid of its CEO Tobias Moers, it was reported yesterday, or, rather, he quit instead after disagreements with Aston chair Lawrence Stroll. Quit, fired, laid off, shit-canned, whatever you want to call it, they are all mostly the same, at least in the end result. It had been rumored that Amedeo Felisa, who was CEO of Ferrari between 2008 and 2016, would be Moers’ replacement, and, this morning, that much was confirmed.

Felisa is 76, which might make some wonder if he still is up for running an automaker. Or at I wonder, because when I’m 76 I will be up for exclusively sitting on my ass. Yet, Stroll says that Felisa is “young at heart,” according to the Financial Times.

The shake-up comes as Aston reported a pre-tax loss of £111mn for the first quarter, widening the £42mn loss of a year earlier, on a 4 per cent rise in sales to £233mn because of higher depreciation charges.

Moers will leave after presiding over a collapse in morale at the business as he oversaw a turnround of the luxury carmaker.

Stroll, who led a bailout of the company in 2020, brought him into the business as chief executive and chief technical officer.

He was forensic in detail and engineering knowledge, but became known for a robust management style.

Dozens of senior employees have left the company during Moers’ two-year tenure, according to people inside and close to the group, though many have been replaced.

Stroll said on Wednesday that Moers brought “significant discipline to its operations” but that the company needed “greater collaboration and a more cohesive way of working” in the future, as well as a dedicated chief technical officer, the role Moers held alongside his chief executive post.

It was not two months ago that I was in Sardinia, Italy, to drive the DBX 707 and Moers was there, too, and everyone at Aston was like, “Thanks to Lawrence and his money things at Aston are the best they’ve been in a while, we are so focused, everything is great.” Moers was in good spirits too, and really on point in talking about the DBX 707, a car he seemed genuinely proud of. How the times swiftly change.

Aston also said that Roberto Fedeli, who is credited with being the guy behind the hybrid LaFerrari, will be its chief technical officer. If you can’t beat them, hire them, I guess.

2nd Gear: Speaking Of Ferrari…

It continues to make money, which is not the most surprising thing in the world. It said Wednesday that it made about $445 million in the first three months of 2022, according to Reuters, because rich people are doing fine and still like to buy Ferraris.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) came in at 423 million euros ($445 million) in the January-March period, helped by the collection of advances on the Daytona SP3, one of Ferrari latest models.

The results matched analyst expectations of 425 million euros, according to a Reuters poll.

“These results were sustained by a strong net order intake, which continued firmly over the first three months of the year: today the order book already covers well into 2023 and most of our models are sold out,” Chief Executive Benedetto Vigna said in a statement.

Vigna noted that 2022 had been marked by “uncertainties in the geopolitical scenario” but added that he remained “optimistic about the future prospect of the company”.

Congrats to Ferrari, I guess, for continuing to be the envy of the industry, after all these years.

3rd Gear: Volvo Sales Are Down

Volvo sales were down almost 25 percent in April compared to last year, the company reported on Wednesday, blaming various supply chain problems and also lockdowns in China.

From Reuters:

The Gothenburg-based company said however that demand remained strong, while the share of fully electric cars rose to 10% from 9% in March. It aims for 50% of its sales to be pure electric cars by the middle of this decade.

“In April, Covid-19 lockdowns in eastern China impacted retail deliveries in China and added more challenges to already weakened global supply chains, resulting in additional loss of production,” Volvo said in a statement.

Sales in China at the company, which is majority owned by China’s Geely Holding (GEELY.UL), declined 47.8% in April, while in the United States they fell 9.2% and in Europe 23.2%.

Volvo, I suspect, will be just fine.

4th Gear: Porsche Made A New Battery Supply Investment

It is to the tune of $400 million, in a company called Group14 Technologies, which says it is “founded to enable the electrification of everything.” Group14 makes silicon-carbon, which is used in batteries. This is a bet, in other words, on the long run.

From Automotive News:

Porsche led the Series C round and was joined by other financial and strategic investors including Canada’s OMERS Capital Markets and BlackRock-backed Decarbonization Partners, according to a Wednesday statement.

Group14 said it has plans to open a second commercial-scale factory in the U.S. to keep up with demand from customers such as Cellforce Group, a Porsche-backed joint venture.

[…]

“The battery cells are the combustion chamber of the future,” Porsche Deputy Chairman Lutz Meschke said in a statement. “We are investing in the development of new high-performance cells with Cellforce and in the production of battery modules. As a result, Porsche has decided to partner with Group14 Technologies.”

5th Gear: Volkswagen Has Sold Out Of EVs In The U.S. And Europe

That’s according to the FT, which says that supply chain disruptions are again to blame. If you are one of the dozens of people hoping to buy an ID.4 this year then that will have to wait, I guess.

The Wolfsburg-based group, which includes brands such as Porsche, Audi and Škoda, sold more than 99,000 electric models worldwide in the first three months of 2022 as it was hit by a shortage of semiconductors and wiring harnesses made in Ukraine.

Market leader Tesla delivered more than three times that number in the same quarter.

However, VW boss Herbert Diess said that, since demand had remained robust, the company had an order backlog in western Europe of 300,000 electric cars. He added that customers now placing orders in Europe and the US would not get their electric models delivered before 2023.

“We have very high order books and . . . order intake on electric vehicles,” Diess added. “That accounts for all of our models from ID.3, ID.4, the Audi models — [all] are extremely well received in the markets, Škoda models are also very well received in Europe.”

He said: “We are basically sold out on electric vehicles in Europe and in the United States. And in China, it’s really picking up.”

I’m sure VW would have loved to have more EVs on hand to sell, but saying that your products are going quick is also one of the oldest tricks in marketing. Pro tip: If you are ever selling anything on Craigslist or whatever and someone messages to inquire, mention that there has been a lot of interest and they might have to act fast, whether it’s true or not. It works a surprising amount of the time.

Reverse: Kent State

This has, admittedly, nothing to do with cars or transportation, but has some personal significance, because I grew up in Kent, Ohio, and every May 4th this is a big deal.

Crosby, Stills, and Nash played a free show to commemorate the shootings in 1997 at Kent State, and me and my dad went. I didn’t really know anything about anything at the time. Years later, having been involved in a few protests myself, I more fully appreciated how senseless the shootings were.

Neutral: How Are You?

I ate a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese for breakfast, so that’s how my morning is going.

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