Will More Companies Seek Bankruptcy As Opening Up Continues?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the U.S. vs China trade war, JIT (Just in Time) or also known as the Lean Manufacturing method was the way to finish up production of a product line that is fast to bring the products to the market. JIT was made popular by Toyota in the 1930’s “The Toyota Way” production method. This method allows any company not to stock up raw materials and be overburdened with materials and parts in the production chain inventory, but instead, any company that uses JIT can just rely on an overseas or local third party to quickly deliver whatever stuff that a company needs to finish up production of a product line. JIT saves time, cost, and improves the efficiency of manufacturing. Unfortunately, the pandemic hit in early 2020 led to the shutdown of most parts of the world, and JIT isn’t viable as before. Shipping became more difficult, and shipping costs were rising tremendously. Furthermore, companies rather cut costs and shored up cash to protect the business during the uncertainty of the pandemic COVID-19. This pushed the JIT supply chain to the brink of collapse since companies weren’t ordered raw materials and whatever parts so freely as before.

The U.S. vs China trade war is still an ongoing thing, and JIT won’t be taken up favorably by the United States. The United States doesn’t want to be overly dependent on China for crucial and mission-critical materials and parts. One perfect example of this is rare earth minerals. China has cornered the rare earth mineral market, and with such influence, China could always use its power to subdue the United States to China’s demand by not selling rare earth minerals to the United States. Rare earth minerals, although the market isn’t big, these minerals are the absolute must for most electronic stuff that every country needs. To produce an electronic vehicle, smart TV, or just about any other electronic thing — rare earth materials must be present for such a thing to be successfully made. JIT is all about relying on a third partner/country to provide the raw materials and parts, but this could become a security nightmare for the United States in the rare earth mineral example. The pandemic has had only increased the divide between the United States and China in regards to how a global supply chain should be reformed onward.

As the United States and China try to promote different supply chain routes and methods for the globe, locally located companies aren’t yet weaning off the crisis of shortage of materials and parts such as microchip shortage — due to shipping difficulty and countries’ shutdowns across the globe — due to the pandemic is still an ongoing thing since many countries have yet to adequately allow the populations to be vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines. While the shortages of everything are on the menu, companies are trying to alleviate many shortages as possible by hoarding raw materials and parts. Some companies are trying to overproduce the finished products as these companies have seen the demands of goods rising to an unseen level since the pandemic hit. Thus, rising demands produce rising inflationary prices of finished goods. Shortages of raw materials also push the prices of raw materials to be more expensive such as lumbers. As raw materials get expensive, the expense would pass on to the customers in the finished goods. In general, finished goods are more costly as the demands are high and raw materials’ shortage. With high demands come shrewd business sense, and so companies would go overdrive in producing more finished goods, The question is then when the COVID-19 pandemic slowly goes away and the world is opening up again just like how it was in 2019, services will come back to life, and customers would spend less on goods but more on services — how are the demand bubbles of physical goods would fare in such a scenario?

I think as the opening up roaring back, the inflation would collapse into deflation in how physical goods are being priced — while innovation would continue to drive the costs down of stuff such as electronic — and so many companies that overly produce the finished goods will face the glut of inventory. This could be so inefficient that these companies may wish JIT would become fashionable again. Thus, I think the future earnings of such companies will be way less impressive than most investors would have liked to see. The service sector may pick up again, but companies that are in this sector may still have to face bankruptcy since these companies borrowed a lot of debts during the pandemic COVID-19 service shutdown across the globe. Thus, I don’t think we will see the normal as how we had gotten used to before 2020. Companies with heavy debts should be valued less even if these companies fall into the value investing category. This could be an opportunity or a value trap kind of thing. We could not know an overly burdened indebted company is a bargain or a value trap since such a company could file bankruptcy easily.

Toyota Heats Up The Race To Electrification

Tesla is still leading the way to electrification. Nio and other well known Chinese electric car makers are revving up their effort in competing both against Tesla and the old-school Internal Combustion Engine car manufacturers. Since electrification requires fewer moving parts, the cars should be less complicated to produce and streamline the supply chain — but there are limits still in improving the electrification process. One of such limits is the battery range. Another is the battery’s not so robust recharge cycle amount before the degradation of a battery begins to take place when every time it gets charged up.

No worry though, I think Tesla is doing its best to improve these limits. Lately, Nio upgraded 75 kWh battery technology to 100 kWh, and this means Nio’s car owners now can either choose to use the old tech battery or upgrade to a newer one which is the 100 kWh. The 100 kWh battery allows Nio cars to have a better mileage range. Nio’s 100 kWh battery allows Nio cars, depending on the vehicle sizes, to travel up to 615 km (382 miles) per charge. Other EV (Electrical Vehicle) makers are not idling by either because they’re too improving the battery tech and getting rid of more limits in the electrification process.

Besides improving the battery tech, sometimes it’s also better to reinvent the wheel, and so other EV innovators are coming up with ways of reinventing the whole EV battery tech altogether. Instead of relying on the common lithium-ion battery tech which relies on a liquid electrolytic solution, some EV innovators are hard at work in pushing out solid-state battery tech which gives a better recharged time. For example, QuantumScape — which went public recently through a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company) merger — is promising to push out solid-state battery tech which allows an EV battery to be recharged about 80% but it takes only 15 minutes to do so. QuantumScape mentioned that they will begin the manufacturing process around 2024 to get this tech onto the market — which is four years from now.

Here I thought QuantumScape is already a game-changer, then suddenly Toyota announces that they will release an EV in 2021 with a solid-state battery tech that allows the vehicle to be fully recharged within 10 minutes. I think the age of electrification is now heating up and ready to go much farther in terms of overtaking the traditional ICE makers fast. Check out a cool video right after the break where Toyota boasts about their electrification process of Lexus cars in the near future.

Can A More Focus Early Bird Reap The Rewards of EV Market? Neglecting This Market Will Be The Downfall of Any Great Automaker In The Coming Days?

Before you read on, I want to clarify my standing in regard to the pure electrical vehicle all related matters.  To sum it up, I do think the EV market will be huge in the future.  Furthermore, I bought some common shares (stock) and go long on an EV maker which I will not name here.  So, my standing is that I’m biased and positive in the EV sector.

A question I want to address in this blog post is that can a country or a company in a car industry be left behind by ignoring the EV market? It seems Toyota is still moving too slow on going all-in in producing pure electrical cars.  I’m wondering, perhaps, Toyota thinks that the EV market is not big enough and there isn’t enough demand for EV out there, and so it’s OK for them to move slowly into this market.  Nonetheless, I think this would be a big mistake for Toyota and other automakers out there that think the same way as Toyota is currently thinking in regards to EV of all things.

I suspect that Tesla and other EV makers out there who are going long and early into the EV market will be able to set some standards for the whole EV industry.  Why do you think Chinese and South Korean automakers cannot shine brighter than automakers in Japan and Europe? Well, most automakers in Europe and Japan have been at the game much longer than the ones in South Korea and China.  The European and Japan automakers have been churning out complicated but well respected non-luxurious and luxurious vehicles with internal combustion engines for decades.  Nonetheless, when it comes to electrical vehicles, it’s still anybody’s game.

I’m no expert in the auto industry and whatever I’m spewing here is just an ordinary Joe’s perspective on the car industry.  Nonetheless, my suspicion is that the EV market will be so huge and has a very big potential for investors because of several things. 

Firstly, China got the biggest auto consumption market in the world.  Nowadays, if you’re an automaker, I doubt that you would want to neglect such a big auto market as the one in China.  So, when the Chinese government prioritizes EV (and other new energy sources for making vehicles and other transportation means) — I think it’s a very big deal.  After all, the Chinese government demands a certain percentage of pure EVs to be made and sold by each automaker that wants to participate in a growing Chinese auto market.

Secondly, as a country like China and Germany build up EV charging points to promote pure electric vehicles, people are going to be more comfortable to go out and buy more EVs since they know they can charge their vehicles anywhere eventually.  Meanwhile, some EV makers are also trying to improve battery range and charging speed, and thus greatly enhancing the demand for a pure electric vehicle.  Some automakers go as far as to provide a battery switching option which could take less than five minutes to switch out a drained out battery with a full charge one so you can drive your EV out of the charging station in no time.

I think high-cost value products like a car rely on reputation a lot.  Thus, I think when all necessary ingredients are eventually be put in place for the pure electric automakers to thrive, they only have their reputation to depend and fall back onto.  This means, whoever is in the game the longest doesn’t necessarily be the best, the biggest, and the most awesome if the reputation is stink.  Nonetheless, when the time is right for the EV sector to grow, a great reputation is exactly the thing a pure electric automaker needs to thrive onward.  Thus, I think as long a pure electric automaker got an early head start and keeps on building a great reputation, it will be very hard for the newcomers to come in and uprooting the foundation of the great pure electric automaker.

One more thing, Mr. Bill Gates had mentioned that it was his mistake of not pushing more focus into the smartphone industry thus Apple and other Android smartphone makers were able to thrive but Microsoft did not do so great in making a well respected and well-known smartphone.  I think Toyota and whatever automakers out there should take the lesson of Microsoft in regards to being a more focus early bird.

Check out how the Japanese are building the futuristic fuel cell Mirai cars!

After watching a YouTube video on how the Japanese built Toyota Mirai, fuel cell car, I must say that I’m surprised to see humans are still involving in building such a complicated beast/machine. I was thinking that nowadays, building cars should have all been done by robotics mainly, but I guess I’m dead wrong on this. Perhaps, other car companies may deploy all sorts of robots to build their cars, but it seems Toyota is still using a lot of human technicians to manually guide machines that do heavy lifting auto parts into place so the same technician or other technicians can begin to bolt these auto parts together to form a more complete car.

Ain’t It Cool To Have Both BMW and Toyota In One Car?

I’m driving a boring old man Camry Hybrid, and I often wish that I could get a sportier car! Sometimes I look at one of those sporty BMWs on the road and I was like — this is a cool thing. I got to drive a BMW once because I knew a dude once who let me drove it. It was a sporty type with two doors and got those steering, how you call sticks or knobs or whatever, for shifting manually. Then I watch a YouTube video where it shows that someone was able to super up their Supra so it could attain 1800 horsepower. Hmm… now I’m thinking, ain’t it cool to have something like both a BMW coolness and reliable Toyota but sporty Supra in one car? Well, guess what, 2020 Toyota Supra is just that!

So, people are complaining how this brand new 2020 Toyota Supra that will come out in the Summer of 2019 is just another BMW Z4. The video above is actually clearing things up a lot more for me. Yes, I like the coolness of a BMW, but I prefer the reliability of a Toyota more! I know about it since I’m driving a very reliable Toyota Camry Hybrid for 12 years already. So I can totally attest to how reliable a Toyota car is! Just put it this way, I don’t even remember the last time I’d to worry about maintaining my Toyota Camry Hybrid besides oil change! So, basically, the video above tells me that Toyota brings its reliability to the co-joint operation of the Z4/Supra car basic platform.

Furthermore, after the basic co-join operation of the new sporty platform for both Z4/Supra, BMW and Toyota went separated way to make their cars unique. So, I think whoever will get BMW Z4 would have to thanks Toyota for making their Z4 more reliable! For me, I like how the 2020 Supra looks a lot. I can also imagine people will super up their 2020 Supra in craziest ways possible. In summary, I think it’s really cool to see both BMW and Toyota teaming up developing both sporty cars together!

Driverless Car Are Coming Soon, But How Soon? What About Humanless Everything Else?

English: Google driverless car operating on a ...

English: Google driverless car operating on a testing path (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Humans will one day render as useless walking bones, because machines will take over all the chores and whatever else that humans don’t feel like doing.  We can already take a peek at the future by seeing car manufacturers going the route of driverless car.  The video right after the break talks about how Toyota, Audi, and other well known car brands are working and researching on driverless cars.  So far, their prototypes seem to drive themselves alright.  So, I guess they got the driverless down, but how safe will their driverless vehicles be?  This is why I think we might not see this type of cars at least for few years on.  Nonetheless, I hope they can work out the safety issues for these driverless cars soon, because I’m itching to read, blog, eat, snore, and scratch my itchy back whenever I’m on the road outing.

A year back or two, I don’t remember the time exactly, South Korea had employed few robots to be school teacher and a prison somewhere (I forgot where) had employed robots to be prison guards.  Perhaps, more of these machines will even do more stuffs for us humans soon.  Imagine, army of robots/machines go to a piece of land, build bunch of more specialized machines on spot, and from the ground up these machines together build a building or house that can, in time, expand, contract, remodel, and whatever else that the owner of this futuristic house wants to do.  Let just hope, more machines/robots don’t mean more bad things.  Exciting about the future?