Self-Driving Trucks Are Going To Become Very Real, Really Soon! Andrew Yang Isn’t Lying!

Has Andrew Yang been so right about automation is slowly taking over more jobs, especially for the trucking industry? Well, check out CNBC video right after the break to see how customer focus of retailers like Amazon has driven more people into developing self-driving trucks!

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Can The Automation of Cars Do Away With Dealerships?

I imagine that the future of transportation is all about automation. I don’t think this is at all a guess because one just takes a look at China’s huge population and see why right away. I can’t imagine that all people in China, each and every one of them, own a car because there won’t be enough space on the roads and highways — the traffic would be stupidly horrendous than ever before. This is why I think China may lead in the race of AI and car automation!

In order for the automation of cars, I think AI needs to be improved tremendously so accidents won’t occur so frequently. At least, the AI should be a lot better than the human drivers. Once the AI part of the automation of cars got nailed down, I can see that a car service such as Lyft would try to deliver cars to whoever needs ’em. This is when 5G comes into the picture to facilitate the communication between cars, cars and the transportation system, and so forth.

Anyhow, in this blog post I want to concentrate on the Lyft part of the whole automation of the transportation equation. I’m wondering, how Lyft and Uber would fare in a world where all cars are driverless? Imagine, car companies could actually get into the Lyft game themselves. Why would they allow Lyft and Uber to be the middlemen?

Nonetheless, I can see those car manufacturers like Toyota may not want to join the Lyft game because of additional costs. Perhaps, car manufacturers rather manufacture cars only and let the costs of the logistic of delivering cars to the user through car services such as Lyft and Uber. Then I’m still wondering how the dealerships would fare, right?

I can see those car manufacturers would prefer to deal directly with car services such as Lyft and Uber and let go of their dealerships entirely in a world of driverless cars! The dealerships would become rather redundant unless the car manufacturers prefer to allow the dealerships to become a car service like Lyft and Uber. But we have to ask who got more experience in delivering a car to a user in a taxi manner? Of course, the answer would be Lyft and Uber and not the dealerships!

In summary, I think if we’re heading in the direction of all cars to be driverless, then I can see the fading out of car dealerships in favor of Lyft and Uber. Of course, I could be wrong and the car manufacturers like Toyota decides to join the Lyft/Uber game and turn their dealerships into Lyft/Uber service. Nonetheless, I still can’t see car dealerships to be around when driverless cars become proliferated. I see car making companies may rely on Lyft/Uber sort of service or just jump into the game themselves delivering cars through an app and not relying on a costly dealership.

Can Lyft Be A Good Investment?

Lyft has filed S-1 for IPO on March 18th of this year (2019). Since Lyft isn’t yet a public company, we can’t really know the true numbers of Lyft’s finance. Nevertheless, leaked information tells us that although Lyft revenues are increasing tremendously it is also losing a lot of money on operational and R&D costs. Leaked information may not be accurate at all, but if the information is accurate Lyft may have to struggle a lot before it can become a profitable company.

According to the information we have Lyft is operating at a loss of $911 million net loss in 2018. Net loss is very important because a net loss tells us that Lyft isn’t a profitable company yet. It seems Lyft’s revenues are not able to cover the operating and R&D costs. The general definition of a net loss is that a total of expenses is bigger than a total of revenues.

Nevertheless, Lyft seems to boost its revenues very fast! In 2016, Lyft’s revenues were totaled at $343 million, but if the information is correct in 2018 Lyft’s revenues are totaled at $2.2 billion. If one looks at this closer, it seems Lyft has a chance of making it if the revenues are going to continue to go through this positive, exploding trajectory for some time to come.

Lyft is considering to invest more in R&D in regards to rolling out a self-driving fleet. If Lyft can get behind a self-driving fleet enormously and get the technology to work for real, then I think Lyft has a big chance to cut costs tremendously. If revenues continue to pick up, eating away Uber’s market share, and cut costing measures are going to be effective — Lyft could very well become a profitable company.

Lyft and Uber are competing for the same market, and both of these companies are driving Taxis out of business. Since Lyft and Uber are able to do this to Taxis, we can tell that companies like Amazon, Google, and even the car rentals and car dealerships themselves could get into the same act as Lyft and Uber when self-driving becomes a reality. This could be a very crowded market, and if my intuition is accurate it could mean Lyft and Uber may have a very tough market to operate in as time goes on. So the profits/revenues Lyft is having now could very well dwindle in the future!

Self-driving will change how people commute in the future. Car dealerships can jump into the act of allowing people to hail for self-driving cars. Perhaps, people of the future will not buy cars as much since they can just hail for a self-driving car? Google and other big tech companies can also create apps to allow the sharing of self-driving cars like how we have bike-sharing now. This could mean companies like Google don’t have to own a fleet of self-driving cars to be in the business of self-driving car-hailing. It’s like people to people self-dealing business but using a futuristic app of a huge tech giant where the tech giant gets to keep a small portion of the profit.

In summary and in truth, I’m not very sure if Lyft could be a good investment or not. Leaked info tells us that the company got a good chance of becoming profitable since the revenues keep on exploding to the positive territory — but the company has to be able to keep the operating and R&D costs down eventually! Nevertheless, the market which Lyft is operating in is possibly getting very crowded because of the self-driving car technology. If by the time the market gets so crowded and yet Lyft isn’t becoming profitable, then Lyft could find itself in a world of hurt! Personally, if I ever want to invest in Lyft, I won’t make it as one of my long term investments! If I ever invest in Lyft, I may have to watch out for the actions of other companies in the car-hailing market very closely. I may also have to watch out for new players that could enter the car-hailing market because new players could dilute the profitability of car-hailing market.

Tesla’s Online Selling Only Is A Desperate Move?

Tesla announces that it will close most dealerships to cut costs and to mainly sell cars online. To know more about this new development on Tesla’s online car sale only you can read this article “Tesla Online Sales — Bigger News Than $35,000 Model 3.” What I think about this?

So, I don’t own any Tesla car, but I’m driving a Toyota! My Toyota is a hybrid car, and so I don’t trust auto mechanic from auto mechanic shops. I’ve always brought my car into the Toyota dealership. Of course, sometimes I think I do have to pay a little bit more in the dealership than at the auto mechanic shop. Nevertheless, I’m pretty lucky because the Toyota dealership I go to never upsells me. Sometimes, I even persuade them to help me maintain my car, and this is really an ironic thing to do.

For an example, two weeks ago, I carelessly drove over a curb in Dunkin Donut! Yep, that was a stupid thing to do, but it could happen to the best of us. I brought my car into Toyota dealership to have a quick check. They ask me how the car was driving. I said it felt alright, but I need a quick check anyway. They gave me a free check and told me everything was alright. I had to persuade them to do a car alignment anyway.

Now, it seems I have digressed but I assure you I’ve not! How? Let’s say I currently own a Tesla and want to do something similar to the situation above, but how am I going to do so if all Tesla’s dealerships are closing?

I think it’s a bad move for Tesla to sell cars online only! Furthermore, if Tesla is in a good financial position, it does not have to do this! Perhaps, it should close only the dealerships that do not perform in selling cars, but it should not close all stores. I’ve heard that model 3 is not that great since many sought after options do not make into Tesla model 3. One example is that Tesla model 3 does not carry leather seats! Am I wrong on this? If I’m not then Tesla model 3 isn’t that appealing!

Tesla is trying to cut costs, closing stores/dealerships and reducing prices for Tesla models. All these measures could be a good thing for prolonging Tesla’s lifespan. Nonetheless, this does not mean Tesla is in a healthy condition! Some cost-cutting measures such as closing all brick and mortar stores are quite dubious in my opinion!

Opinion: Can Sears Be Revived After Eddie Lampert Won Auction Bid, Saving Sears From Liquidation?

Can Sears be revived after Chairman Eddie Lampert won $5.2 billion auction bid to save Sears from liquidation?

When thinking of Sears I got nothing to be excited about! On the top of my head, I don’t even know what I care to want to buy at Sears. Whenever I need new clothes I think about stores like Kohls. Whenever I need new gadgets I think about stores like Amazon. Sometimes, Best Buy and Micro Center make to the top of my head for buying computer related items. Video gaming stuff I would just usually get from an online store like Valve’s Steam. Something needs to be improved for the home, I usually go to Home Depot. I usually go to Home Depot or Best Buy for big items such as the refrigerator. If I need everyday cheap, items I just go to Walmart. I still don’t see what I would need so much that I would rush to Sears to get it.

I think Sears will have a very tough uphill battle even it got itself out of liquidation. In order for Sears to be relevant, I think Sears got very few options. The first option is to find out what makes Sears unique in today competitive online/offline retailers such as Amazon and Walmart. If Sears cannot compete against Best Buy, Amazon, and so forth, then I think Sears needs to go with the second option which is to cater to luxury stuff only. Nonetheless, this would be like completely changing the business model of Sears inside-out. This would mean Sears would not even try to be competitive against brands like Amazon and Best Buy. Instead, Sears would just cater to the rich.

Let’s fantasize how Sears would just cater to the rich would be like OK? Let’s imagine instead of selling a normal refrigerator Sears now sells a gold plated refrigerator. This gold plated refrigerator is one of a kind since very few of them were made. The price is around $25,000. The refrigerator is not only gold plated, but it is also a tech hub center for the kitchen where the large glassy part of the refrigerator door could go translucent so you can interact with it like a smart TV or a computer. It also got a smart AI assistant to help stock up the refrigerator when something is about to run out. In this scenario, normal people wouldn’t buy this refrigerator since it’s too expensive and luxurious. Wealthy people though, they could buy this refrigerator without blinking twice.

If Sears targets the rich, then its business model would be completely different than before! The stuff Sears needs to carry in the store are going to be totally different than before. Furthermore, when targeting the rich Sears may not even need to care about being competitive against other players at all. How come? I think buying luxurious stuff is an experience! A few clicks of the mouse through online stores won’t get you the experience! Instead, I can see rich people would drive their supercar or Rolls Royce to Sears, get greeted by super friendly and helpful staff — feeling like a king when buying something — and feeling like a king when leaving Sears store afterward. Such an experience you would never get from online stores or from the stores that cater to the middle-income class. Sears can go this route to stay profitable even though Sears won’t be competitive against players such as Amazon.

Of course, there is always a third route which is to use the old model but providing better customer service. Nonetheless, I don’t see how Sears can stay competitive and relevant when people don’t have the need to go to Sears. Sears could learn from Kohls even though Kohls is just a retailer for clothing. Why? I think Kohls is really good at attracting me to buy clothes from its online store! Kohls got discount programs such as Kohls Cash, and these programs somehow encourage me to spend more. Although Kohls doesn’t provide free shipping unless you buy more than $75 worth of items (if I’m remembering this correctly), but this somehow encourages me to spend more than $75. Kohls always announces a new clearance sale, and so it’s like Christmas all over again. If Sears can learn how to give out discount like Kohls does, I think Sears can begin to become relevant in no time. Nonetheless, Sears must carry the stuff that when giving out discounts it does make sense for people to care to buy. Yep, even on discount, unwanted stuff won’t get sold.

Could Trade War Be A Blessing In Disguise For China?

What I’m about to write could be controversial for the time we’re living in now.  As we all know president Trump’s tariffs on China are the means to push China to negotiate a fairer trade — at least this is how the president promotes to the public.  So far China isn’t willing to be a pushover and so they decide to retaliate pound for pound.  This means whoever blinks first would lose a lot more in the long run, but in the end, both the United States and China would lose in short-term — well, at least this is how the news programs promote this.

I’m thinking that could tariff be a blessing in disguise for China?  How come?  China has been known as the factory for the world since they opened up their market and joined the World Trade Organization.  This means China can ramp up production of almost anything!  As Trump’s tariffs hit China, companies that want to avoid tariffs from the United States and still want to export to the United States would move their operations out of China.  Nonetheless, there are Chinese and foreign companies in China that produce the same stuff but have yet to export their products to the United States would find the vacuum suddenly is a lot more pleasant to navigate and do business.

The Chinese government could also be more lenient toward companies that decide to keep their operation within China, thus allowing these companies to prosper while China’s internal consumer market ought to grow bigger in time.  Remember Google?  Google left the Chinese market a long time ago but now Google has shown signs that it wants to grab a chunk of the Chinese’s huge consumer market.  Unfortunately, Google isn’t making much progress in this front and allowing similar Chinese homegrown companies to grow unchallenged within China.

Since Chinese companies that are going to stay in China could ramp up their production unchallenged as the trade war between the United States and China heats up, these companies ought to grow bigger in a more empty but lucrative Chinese consumer market.  Perhaps some European companies may want to open up their operations in China to give the Chinese companies some competitions.  Anyway, I think Chinese companies could grow unchallenged in their home market and mass produce even cheaper products to saturate the world market even more.  In the end, I think trade war could only harm a weaker foe who got no means to fight back and could not ramp up production.  In the case of China, I think trade war could be a blessing in disguise for the reasons I surmised thus far.