David Kirkpatrick

May 21, 2010

Tesla Motors gets big boost from Toyota

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:26 am

Try a $50 million investment on for size.

From the link:

The heads of Tesla Motors Inc. and Toyota Motors Corp. surprised the auto world Thursday by announcing a partnership to develop and build electric cars at a recently shuttered auto plant in the San Francisco Bay area.

Akio Toyoda, CEO of the world’s largest automaker, said Toyota will invest $50 million in Tesla when the company begins selling stock to the public, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said his company will purchase the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. factory, known as Nummi, in Fremont where the Model S electric sedan will be built.

”We’re going to create electric cars together,” Musk told a news conference at Tesla’s office in Palo Alto. ”It’s a great honor to work with a company like Toyota, one of the automobile leaders of the world and one I’ve personally long admired.”

March 3, 2009

Auto sales way down

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:43 pm

The Ru, st Belt just keeps taking body blows and crushing shots to the jaw. It’s hard to see how these companies can remain afloat without the government simply stepping in and taking over for the time being. Is GM too big to fail? Ford? Is the auto part supply chain so weak that if any of the onetime “big three” collapse, the whole system breaks down?

We may find out before long. Talking to a group of businessmen last night, the general consensus on the unemployment aspect of this financial crisis is the rate will slow, but rising unemployment will likely continue unabated through the end of 2010 if not longer.

From the link:

The three largest automakers, including Toyota, each said their sales declined at least 40 percent from February 2008.

Sales were down 53 percent at General Motors, 48 percent at the Ford Motor Company and 40 percent at Toyota. Chrysler sales fell 44 percent.

Honda reported a 38 percent drop, while Nissan said its sales fell 37 percent.

“The February numbers are clearly a step down from where we’d been running the last four months,” said Michael C. DiGiovanni, G.M.’s chief sales analyst. “It’s unsettling to our business. These are obviously unsustainable levels which are causing almost every auto manufacturer across the world to look for government aid.”

G.M., of course, has gotten $13.4 billion from the federal government to help it avoid seeking bankruptcy protection, while Chrysler, which will report its sales later Tuesday, has received $4 billion.

January 6, 2009

Toyota turns the lights off for 11 days

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:00 pm

GM and Chrysler may have shut factories down this month to save money and prep for an uncertain future. Toyota has followed-suit because of slumping sales.

The credit crunch hit automakers hard, and now that hard times are settling in it’s an easy bet the market for new cars will become very soft. Not many people are going to trade-in a working car, and less likely still, a paid-off car under this economic climate.

From the link:

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) is to halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as a sharp slide in U.S. sales has left dealers’ lots full of unsold cars.

A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota’s biggest market was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at struggling U.S. rivals General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor (F.N).

“I never expected the crisis to spread this fast and leave this deep a scar,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo event hosted by Japan‘s top business lobbies.

Toyota had already announced a three-day production halt for this month at its 12 directly operated Japanese plants — four car assembly plants and eight for engines, transmissions and other components.

A sweeping suspension of domestic production is almost unprecedented. In 1993, Toyota halted output for one day as a strong yen hammered sales.

Japanese-built cars make up around 40 percent of Toyota’s sales in the United States, where foreign-made cars and trucks have been piling up at ports and dealers’ yards.

December 30, 2008

Workflow management makes it to the state house

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:38 pm

Efficient government? I think heads are exploding right now.

From the link:

A growing number of cash-strapped states are attacking bulky, frustrating and time-consuming bureaucracies with a Japanese weapon: the notion of kaizen, or continuous improvement.

“It has taken off like wildfire around the country,” said Teresa Hay McMahon, performance results director in Iowa, where kaizen was first used in state government about five years ago.

Kaizen (pronounced ky-ZEHN) is a way of thinking that diagrams a job step by step, puts workers at the center, gives them a sense of the total process they’re involved in, and then frees them to think of ways to best do their jobs.

“We’re making the work visible by doing the mapping,” said Walter Lowell, director of lean management at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Everybody knows they play a role in it, but they don’t know the whole thing.

To get at the root of a problem, kaizen encourages people to ask “why” five times.

“You start to hear things like ‘Why are you doing that?'” Lowell said.

December 22, 2008

The Rust Belt isn’t the only source of auto pain

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:50 pm

Toyota is expecting it’s first loss ever. Ever.

From the link:

Toyota Motor Corp forecast a first-ever annual operating loss, blaming a relentless sales slide and a crippling rise in the yen in what it said was an emergency unprecedented in its 70-year history.

Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker, had been expected to issue its second profit warning in less than seven weeks after domestic rival Honda Motor Co also cut its outlook again last week, but the downward revision was bigger than predicted.

“This is very, very, very bad,” said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Daiwa SB Investments. “There’s a chance they could fall into the red in the next business year as well.

“This is also not just a problem for Toyota. What is good for Toyota is good for the Japanese economy.”

December 10, 2008

Auto bailout looming

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:24 am

Looks like a legislative deal is getting close. I know there’s good reasons to help automakers out — namely all the makers are tied via suppliers, etc., and if say GM eats it some suppliers that Toyota, Honda, et.al. depend on will go under as well thusly undermining otherwise healthy manufacturers.

Doesn’t make me feel any better about this entire process — starting with the financial sector — though.

From the link:

Congress and White House negotiators reached an agreement in principle late Tuesday for $15 billion in loans to keep General Motors (GM) and Chrysler afloat into the first quarter.

“We are making progress and are optimistic that we will have a reasonable compromise that will protect taxpayers and ensure the long-term viability of the American auto companies,” said Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Update — Maybe not so fast there on this bailout.

From the link:

Congressional Republicans, left out of negotiations on the package, blasted it. Their opposition reflected the tricky task of enacting yet another federal rescue in a bailout-weary Congress, with Bush’s influence on the wane.

“People realize that this bill is an incredibly weak bill, (and) is the product of an administration that wants to kick the can down the road and let somebody else deal with it,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “I think it has minimal—very little support in our caucus.”

September 24, 2008

Largest single-rooftop North American solar installation

I’m posting two releases on this very subject, mostly because they arrived in the inbox at 7:16 am and 7:19 am this morning.

The header from 7:16? “Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America.” How about 7:19? “Trina Solar to Power North America’s Largest Single Rooftop Installation.”

These are two different installations and I’ll allow you to sort through the details and decide which is really the largest.

Unintentional comedy or not with the timing, this is good solar news. The more viable installations out there, the better.

The release from 7:16 am:

Toyota and SunPower Complete Largest Single-Roof Solar Installation in North America

ONTARIO, Calif. and SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Toyota and SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR), a manufacturer of high-efficiency solar cells, solar panels and solar systems, today announced the completion of the largest single-roof solar power installation in North America. The 2.3-megawatt SunPower system will begin operation in early October at Toyota’s North America Parts Center California (NAPCC) in Ontario, Calif.

Toyota expects the solar installation will provide nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC.  The system covers more than 242,000 square feet of the NAPCC’s roof and includes 10,417 solar modules, enough to cover more than four football fields. It is expected to avoid about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the emissions from the energy use of approximately 255 homes in a year.

“Toyota’s Earth Charter challenges the company to pursue all possible environmental technologies in the pursuit of sustainable mobility,” said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.  “That extends the company’s environmental responsibilities beyond products to include our manufacturing plants and other facilities where sustainable and renewable energy sources such as solar power are increasingly important.”

“Toyota is a global business leader in environmental sustainability,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower. “The solar power generated by this system will reduce Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. Toyota understands that solar is affordable today as a means to improve the quality of our environment and promote local, clean, reliable power.”

SunPower installed SunPower(R) T10 Solar Roof Tiles at the Toyota facility, equipped with SunPower solar panels, the most efficient solar panels available on the market today. T10 Solar Roof Tiles are non-roof penetrating and tilt at a 10-degree angle to increase energy capture.

Toyota will purchase the electricity generated from the system from GE Energy Financial under the SunPower Access(TM) power purchase agreement (PPA) program. GE Energy Financial will finance, own and operate solar power systems, providing Toyota with immediate savings and a long-term hedge against rising peak power prices. Toyota owns the renewable energy credits associated with the system.

The NAPCC is not Toyota’s first foray into solar power.  The company’s South Campus headquarters building in Torrance, Calif., featured one of the largest privately funded systems of its kind when it opened in 2003.  Also built by SunPower, the system covers 53,000 square feet of rooftop.

About Toyota

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion.  Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,450 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers.  Toyota directly employs over 35,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 2.6 million vehicles in 2007.  For more information about our company, please visit http://www.toyota.com/, http://www.lexus.com/ and http://www.scion.com/.

About SunPower

SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers. SunPower high-efficiency solar cells and solar panels generate up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar technologies and have a uniquely attractive, all-black appearance. With headquarters in San Jose, Calif., SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. For more information, visit http://www.sunpowercorp.com/. SunPower is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NYSE:CY).

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements that do not represent historical facts. The companies use words and phrases such as “will,” “expects,” “is expected,” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, the companies’ plans and expectations regarding: (a) the system beginning operations in October; (b) the solar installation providing nearly 60 percent of the total electricity needs for the 760,000-square foot NAPCC; (c) Toyota avoiding about 6.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent to the CO2 emissions from the energy use of 255 homes in a year; and (d) the system reducing Toyota’s operational costs at the Ontario facility immediately and over the long term, as electric utility rates continue to increase. These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the companies as of the date of this release and management’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the companies’ control. In particular, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ include:  (i) construction difficulties or potential delays in the project implementation process; (ii) unanticipated delays or difficulties securing necessary permits, licenses or other governmental approvals; (iii) the risk of continuation of supply of products and components from suppliers; (iv) unanticipated problems with deploying the system on the sites; (v) actual electricity generation; (vi) the actual energy consumption rate; (vii) unexpected changes in utility service rates; (viii) variations in actual carbon dioxide emissions; and (ix) other risks described in SunPower’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 29, 2008, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the companies’ views as of any subsequent date, and the companies are under no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any responsibility to, update or alter their forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Source: SunPower Corporation
Web site:  http://www.sunpowercorp.com/

Find the second release after the jump: