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Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, and Mercedes-Benz: Automotive Industry Updates for Q1

Bruno T
Latest News
April 10 2024 7:56AM

Volkswagen Sees Continued Growth with a Focus on China

Volkswagen AG (TG:VOW) reported a significant increase in its global deliveries for the first quarter of 2023, reaching a total of 2.1 million vehicles, marking a 3% growth compared to the same period last year. China stood out as the main market driving this growth, with an 8% increase in deliveries amounting to 693,600 vehicles. Despite this, the Asia-Pacific region, excluding China, experienced a 16% drop in deliveries. However, South America recorded a significant increase in sales, as highlighted by the German automaker.

Hildegard Wortmann, from the Group’s Executive Committee for Sales, emphasized the importance of Volkswagen’s diversified product portfolio in addressing market fluctuations, especially in segments such as electric vehicles.

BMW Reaches Milestone with Electric Vehicles

BMW (TG:BMW) announced a 27.9% increase in electric vehicle (BEV) sales in the first quarter of 2024, delivering 82,700 units. This growth attests to the automaker’s continued upward trajectory in the BEV market. With the delivery of its one-millionth electric vehicle since the launch of the BMW i3, BMW celebrates a significant milestone, underscoring the attractiveness of its product portfolio.

BMW’s total deliveries for the quarter reached 594,671 units, a slight increase of 1.1% from the previous year, with BEV sales benefiting from consistent performance across all major global regions.

Ford Recalls Due to Fire Risks

Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is recalling 42,652 vehicles in the United States due to issues with the fuel injector that could lead to cracks and leaks, increasing the risk of fire in the engine compartment. Specific models include some 2022-2023 Bronco Sport and 2022 Escape vehicles equipped with 1.5-liter engines. Ford will notify affected owners for a free update of the engine control software and the installation of a drain tube.

Mercedes-Benz Faces Challenges in Q1

The Mercedes-Benz Group AG (TG:MBG) reported a 6% decrease in its deliveries for the first quarter of 2024, totaling 568,400 units, with an even more pronounced drop of 9% in electric vehicle sales, to 50,500 vehicles. The automaker faced significant challenges, especially in Europe and Asia, due to supply chain issues, while sales in North America fell by 1%.

Britta Seeger, from the Mercedes-Benz Board of Management, promises an exciting 2024, with several new product launches planned, especially in the luxury segment, despite the challenges faced in the first quarter.

These developments highlight the varied dynamics within the automotive industry, with a growing focus on vehicle electrification, supply chain challenges, and the importance of strategic markets like China for global growth.

Lotus Technology beats its peers to the punch

Listed on the stock exchange in February at twice its current valuation, Lotus needs fresh money to finance its expansion. Geely is thinking big: while the British plant in Hethel was producing 1,500 vehicles a year, the Chinese group has invested $1.3 billion in a new plant in Wuhan to produce a hundred times more and conquer the world.

With the help of L Catterton, who knows a thing or two about luxury, Geely’s ambition is to turn Lotus into a new Porsche – no less – since it bought the legendary British carmaker from the Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom. To this end, in addition to the Wuhan plant, a state-of-the-art R&D center has been set up in Raunheim, Germany.

Now focused exclusively on electric vehicles, Lotus doubled the number of models delivered in the last quarter, to 3,749, compared with 1,782 in the third quarter. By comparison, Aston Martin and Lucid delivered around 6,000 vehicles in 2023.

Naturally, Lotus’ accounts are in the red, with a loss of $750 million and negative shareholders’ equity at year-end. The speculative dimension of an investment is very strong here.

Geely’s operating history, however, speaks for itself. The group has had spectacular success with its turnaround plan for Volvo, which has never sold as many vehicles – nor made such juicy margins – as it has since it came under Chinese flag.

With Lotus, Geely’s objective is to achieve sales of $8.2 to $8.6 billion within two years – compared with $679 million today – and a gross margin comparable to Tesla’s, with 40% of sales generated in China. As you can see, this is a project of uncommon ambition.

What’s more, it’s the market shares of Tesla and Porsche that Lotus intends to attack in the West, by positioning itself in the higher price range of the former and a notch below the price range of the latter. Will it work?

Lotus has an enterprise value of $5.6 billion, compared with $4.6 billion for Lucid and $2.2 billion for Aston Martin. The difference between them is that neither Lucid nor Aston Martin has any hope of scaling up as quickly as Lotus.