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Elon Musk Is Losing $5 Billion A Month This Year

Photo: Marc Piasecki (Getty Images)
Photo: Marc Piasecki (Getty Images)

Good morning! It’s Friday, July 5, 2024, and this is The Morning Shift, your daily roundup of the top automotive headlines from around the world, in one place. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: Elon Musk Loses $5 Billion Every Month

At the start of this year, Elon Musk had so much money that he could pretty much single-handedly solve world hunger with his $251 billion fortune. However, stagnating Tesla sales, endless struggles with his takeover of Twitter and the turbulent value of Tesla stock means he’s lost money this year—a lot of money.

Musk is reportedly the billionaire to have lost the most money so far this year, and has been losing value at a rate of roughly $5 billion every month, reports Forbes. According to the site, his wealth dropped by more than 10 percent between the end of 2023 and June 28 2024. As the site explains:

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Musk’s net worth fell from $251.3 billion to $221.4 billion from Dec. 31, 2023 to June 28, the stock market’s last day of normal first-half trading, more than any other billionaire tracked by Forbes, though Musk remains the richest person on the planet.

Much of Musk’s shrinking piggy bank stems from a Delaware judge’s January axing of his record Tesla compensation package then valued at $51 billion, which caused Forbes to discount the value of the equity award by 50% due to uncertainty of Musk ever getting hold of those stock options.

Excluding the award, it was still a shaky six months for Musk’s fortune, as the value of his existing 13% stake in Tesla decreased by about $20 billion as shares of the automaker slipped 20% due to declining profits and car deliveries, partially offset by Musk’s stake in his generative artificial intelligence startup xAI grew to $14.4 billion (Musk also has a roughly $75 billion stake in private aerospace company SpaceX, a $7 billion stake in his social media company X and smaller holdings in his other endeavors like human brain experimental startup Neuralink).

Despite the struggles faced by Musk over the first half of 2024, many of the world’s richest people fared much better. In fact, Forbes reports that the worth of the super rich rose dramatically during the period. Forbes’ 10 richest people’s collective net worth jumped from $1.47 trillion at the end of 2023 to $1.66 trillion at the end of June 2024.

While he might have lost a few billion here and there, Musk remains the richest person in the world ahead of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is around $214 billion at the time of writing.

2nd Gear: Tesla’s German Output To Hit 1 Million Cars A Year

There’s no need to feel too sorry for Musk for very long, however, as his company has just been given the green light to expand output and try to sell even more cars. After a tumultuous few months that saw protesters storm the factory, Tesla’s German plant has been given the go-ahead for expansion that could see it produce as many as a million cars every year.

Tesla’s factory in the German state of Brandenburg has just had its expansion application approved by lawmakers in the area, reports Automotive News. The move will allow the company to increase output at the site to around a million cars a year. As Automotive News reports:

The approval initially allows Tesla to set up an asphalted logistics area for new vehicles, as well as stairwells on its pressing plant and an access guard, the authorities said.

The expansion is part of the Elon Musk-owned company’s plans to double the site’s capacity to 100 gigawatt hours of battery production and 1 million cars per year, setting it up to dominate Europe’s EV market.

The American automaker assembles Model Y cars at the site in Germany for sale across Europe. In 2023, it operated at a rate of around 5,000 cars a week, raising that output to 6,000 cars a week from 2024.

However, expansion of the site has repeatedly come under fire from environmental groups in the region, which accuse Elon Musk and Tesla of greenwashing and claim that expanded operations in the area will negatively impact water supplies and local wildlife.

3rd Gear: EU Slaps China-Made EVs With 38 Percent Tariff

After weeks of will they, won’t they, lawmakers in the European Union have outlined the steps they’re taking to combat cheap Chinese electric cars from sweeping the continent. The Biden administration slapped a 100 percent tariff on Chinese EVs imported into America earlier this year, and now the EU has announced a 38 percent levy of its own on cars imported from China.

The tariff of up to 37.6 percent on Chinese electric cars will come into force today (July 5) and is said to combat “unfair” state subsidies that automakers in China benefit from, reports Al Jazeera. As the site explains:

The Commission, the EU’s executive, launched an investigation last year into Chinese EV manufacturers on whether state subsidies were unfairly undercutting European carmakers.

After four months, when the probe concludes, the Commission could propose “definite duties” that would apply for five years and on which the 27-member bloc would vote.

The move raises duties from the current level of 10 percent as trade spats widen between the EU and China, especially focusing on green technologies.

The provisional duties of between 17.4 percent and 37.6 percent, without backdating, are designed to prevent what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said is a threatened flood of cheap EVs built by state subsidies.

However, the tariffs haven’t been warmly received by everyone in Europe, with some automakers warning that they put the bloc on a slippery slope that leads straight to a trade war between Europe and China. VW warned the tariffs would have a negative impact on Europe’s car industry in the long-term.

4th Gear: Toyota Got To The Bottom Of Its Fake Emission Certificates

After General Motors was fined more than $140 million for failed emissions tests yesterday, Toyota has concluded an investigation into an emissions scandal of its own after it identified falsified certificates outlining the pollution emitted by several of its cars.

Toyota was one of several Japanese automakers to admit submitting falsified emissions certificates last month. Now, the automaker has finalized an investigation into the scandal, adding that it has not found any additional cars with falsified documents, reports Reuters. As the site explains:

Toyota Motor did not find any new cases of wrongdoing in the certification applications of its car models beyond the ones it had already reported last month, the Japanese automaker said in a statement on Friday.

The world’s top-selling automaker said it reported its findings to Japan’s transport ministry after completing its investigation into the certification process for all domestic models for the past 10 years.

Toyota said on Friday it was committed to continue taking measures in line with the transport ministry’s guidance.

Alongside Toyota, falsified emissions certificates were also identified by Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha. It followed an internal investigation at Toyota that uncovered falsified crash test documents at its Daihatsu subsidiary last year affecting light vehicles built by the company.

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