Today’s Pickup: Elon Musk confirms Saudi PIF interest in Tesla

A Tesla Model 3 recharges at a Supercharger station on I-5 in the Central Valley. ( Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Good day,

This morning, Elon Musk published a note on Tesla’s website explaining his controversial tweets from last Tuesday when he said that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. American investment banks and the wider financial industry were caught off guard by Musk’s claim to have ‘funding secured’, and the Securities Exchange Commission actually ramped up its investigation of Musk’s tweets. If it had turned out that Musk was being less that honest about securing funding, then his tweets could be considered stock price manipulation based on false information.

Now Musk has confirmed that the funding source he had in mind was the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, a massive sovereign wealth fund with $2T in assets that already owns almost 5% of Tesla and a multi-billion dollar stake in Uber. Last week we wrote about the strategic reasons why the Saudis should buy Tesla, even as we were skeptical about Musk’s stated price point.

Did you know?

In January 2016, Tesla produced 4526 vehicles out of Fremont. Tesla’s June 2018 production numbers represent a 337% increase over the January 2016 mark (SONAR code: AUTO.SFO).


“We get to do stuff like the Redwood Games because of what our vets did for us.”

-Tim Zelasko, COO of Redwood Logistics, on Redwood’s charity fundraiser last week

In other news:

The trouble with trucking

The economy is booming. The stock market is frothy. Corporations are earning record profits. Yet workers are getting minuscule raises that don’t make up for the rising cost of living. (The New York Times)

Holiday preview shows how serious Amazon is about its private label business

In the area featuring grocery and essentials items, for instance, what took up the most kitchen-cupboard or laundry-room shelf space wasn’t the Lyndt chocolate, Tide pods or Huggies diapers. Instead, it was Amazon’s house brands, including Wickedly Prime snacks, AmazonFresh coffee pods, Happy Belly eggs, Presto! paper towels, Solimo hand soap and the new Wag gourmet dry dog food. (Forbes)

The global container shipping industry since the Hanjin collapse

In August 2016, Hanjin Shipping Co., at the time the world’s seventh largest container carrier, sought bankruptcy protection. It was the largest bankruptcy in shipping industry history. (Hellenic Shipping News)

How a billion dollar autonomous vehicle startup lost its way

Quanergy, which bet its future on solid-state lidar, has experienced an exodus of engineering talent and a troubling failure to deliver products that meet spec. (Bloomberg)

Empty shipyard and suicides as ‘Hyundai Town’ grapples with grim future

27,000 workers and subcontractors have been laid off at Hyundai Heavy between 2015 and 2017 as ship orders plunged. (Reuters)

Final Thoughts:

National freight markets have, for the most part, reached a state of equilibrium: volumes are steady but relatively flat, and turndowns in markets like Los Angeles, Dallas, and Atlanta are all down substantially from their highs in June. 

Chicago is the one major market in the country that has shown signs of life. Since July 14, the tender rejection rate in Chicago (OTRI.CHI) has gained 11.55% to reach 24.19, while the overall national tender rejection rate (OTRI.USA) has deteriorated 16.5% to 17.41. We don’t think this is a volume issue, where an unexpected surge in freight causes turndowns to soar: Chicago’s outbound tender volume index (OTVI.CHI) is flat, if not declining slightly. 

Hammer down everyone!

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.