Today's Pickup: Tesla's bad week | driver retention

  (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

While it’s been a bad week for autonomous cars in general, it’s been worse for Tesla. To put it mildly, challenges on the factory floor and the balance sheet are coming together. First, hedge fund manager, John Thompson of Vilas Capital Management, whose been betting big against Tesla for years, announced that the company’s demise is now inevitable.

“Companies eventually have to make a profit, and I don’t ever see that happening here,” he told MarketWatch. “This is one of the worst income statements I’ve ever seen and between the story and the financials, the financials will win out in this case.” One "reality check" Thompson pointed out was a comparison between Tesla and Ford. Tesla is valued twice as high as Ford, although Ford made six million cars last year at a $7.6 billion profit, while Tesla made 100,000 cars at a $2 billion loss.

That was just the beginning of a very bad Tuesday. News then emerged that the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a fatal crash of a Model X that crashed in California last week and caught fire. This was followed by news that rival JaguarLand Rover is teaming up with Alphabet’s Waymo unit to get ahead of the competition in autonomous, electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Tesla stocks dropped to currently 279, which is almost exactly as low as it was a year ago. The most interesting aspect of Tuesday's selloff was what happened with Tesla's bonds. Burning vehicles and rival automakers are certainly problems, but with Tesla the song remains the same: how to fund it. The bulls will have to rally if Elon Musk is to pull a rabbit from his hat now.

Did you know?

Regional surveys from both the Dallas and Richmond Federal Reserve showed some softening in manufacturing activity in March, and signs have emerged that the recent tariffs implemented by the Trump administration are starting to affect domestic producers.

Quotable:

"I believe we created the driver shortage in the way we paid them and treated drivers as a commodity. Everyone in the industry, starting with myself, are responsible for what we created as far as the shortage itself. And it is our responsibility to fix it."

-Brent Nussbaum, CEO, Nussbaum Transportation Services

In other news:

ELDs capable of paving way to task-based driver pay

Widespread use of ELDs could help transform not just how truck drivers log their time, but how they are paid. (JOC)

U.S.-China trade-war crossfire threatens Asia

Japan, Australia and other economies fear impact of disruption of global supply chain. (WSJ)

Blockchain in the supply chain: The trucking industry

Bodies like BiTA are desperately needed within the trucking industry, which has been suffering from widespread inefficiency. (Business Blockchain HQ)

House approves Air Cargo Security Improvement Act

The United States House of Representatives recently signed off on legislation focused on air cargo security. (SupplyChain247)

Ryder to launch commercial vehicle-sharing platform

COOP, already in limited operation in the Atlanta area, to expand into several other major markets next year. (WSJ)

Final Thoughts:

Collins White, AMX’s president of logistics speaking on using JOBehaviors Assessment profile as a method of improving driver retention:

“We’ve noticed our 3-5 star drivers are sticking with us, meaning they’re just better quality drivers. We don’t have enough data yet to prove they’re better performing drivers; we just know they’re being retained better. We’ve only been doing this for about 4 months…the only issue is we don’t find as many qualified drivers.”

While White admitted that implementing the JOBehaviors Assessment has slowed down the hiring process at AMX, he said it was part of a long-term strategy to develop a core of high quality drivers. Other parts of that strategy included raising driver pay—but not offering sign-on bonuses—and shifting toward a more regional network that allows drivers to return home more often. “We’re having to put some more resources into advertising and marketing for the position,” said White. “We get the same amount of applicants, but as far as people who qualify, well, we’re adding another barrier they have to get through. It does significantly cut down on the drivers who are qualified to work at AMX, but the ones we get are high quality. We haven’t really lost any of those.”

Hammer down everyone!

Stay up-to-date with the latest commentary and insights on FreightTech and the impact to the markets by subscribing.