California offers Tax Breaks to help sell $70,000 Tesla Model S

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 22nd, 2013

Week in Review

Electric cars aren’t selling anywhere near enough to make them a profitable business.  Because they just won’t do for you what gasoline will do for you.  Let you carry lots of stuff over great distances.  Because the electric car is so less of a car as a gasoline-powered car governments bribe manufacturers to build them.  And people to buy them.  Just so rich people can have these toys (see California Is Giving Tesla Another Huge Tax Break. Good Move. by Will Oremus posted 12/19/2013 on Slate).

This is going to drive the Tesla-haters crazy. The luxury electric-car maker is getting a huge new tax break from California, SFGate reports. The state will let it off the hook for sales and use taxes on some $415 million in new equipment it’s purchasing in order to expand production of the Model S at its Bay Area factory. That amounts to a $34.7 million tax break to produce more of a vehicle whose sticker price starts above $70,000…

So, in fact, it isn’t Tesla per se that’s getting special treatment from the state. It’s the clean-tech industry in general, which California is very keen to promote…

More broadly, whatever sense a tax on the purchase of manufacturing equipment might once have made for California, it’s patently counterproductive in the context of clean-tech startups in the 21st century. Add to that some of the highest income and sales taxes in the nation, and it’s no wonder California is worried about companies like Tesla picking up stakes and heading elsewhere. Businessweek notes that new manufacturing jobs in the state have risen less than 1 percent since 2010, compared with nearly 5 percent nationally. Gov. Jerry Brown has been chipping away at the tax already, and Tesla is just the latest example.

Nor is the deal likely to burden the state’s taxpayers. Tesla’s Model S is in huge demand, and the company has been scrambling since its launch to ramp up production.

No.  The Model S is not in huge demand.  Demand may be up for the car.  But if the demand was ‘huge’ like every other popular car that sold well you wouldn’t need subsidies or tax breaks to build and sell them.  For cars in high demand are often the cars with the greatest profit in their selling price.  Because people want them so much that they are willing to pay these higher prices.  SUVs and pickup trucks were these kinds of vehicles.  And before gas prices spiked they were the lifeblood of manufacturers.  Because people paid more for these than they would for the sedans at the time.  Which is when the imports took over that segment.

People like SUVs and pickup trucks because they are big.  They carry a lot of people.  And a lot of stuff.  Even pull campers and boats.  The ideal vehicle for the family vacation.  Something the electric car just sucks at.  For any extra weight just sucks away charge time.  Limiting your range.  Which takes all the fun out of going on vacation.  And makes it a little scary.  For there is nothing worse than having a car that doesn’t move anymore in a strange place far from home.

But if you’re still convinced that tax breaks to big manufacturers are unfair and wrong, you might want to train your ire on a state a little further north, which just offered an all-time record $8.7 billion in tax breaks to a company that manufactures perhaps the least-green transportation technology of all. The worst part: Boeing might just move out anyway.

There is a bit of a difference between Tesla and Boeing.  Boeing employs a great many more people than Tesla.  And they’re all union workers ‘further north’.  Hence part of the reason for the tax breaks.  To help them compete with their high labor costs against the heavily subsidized Airbus.  Also, Boeing leads U.S. exports.  And is about the biggest component in U.S. GDP figures.  So while tax breaks and subsidies are abhorrent at least Boeing gives us something for theirs.  Unlike clean-tech industries.  That receive huge government subsidies and tax breaks.  Only to go bankrupt (Solyndra, Fisker, etc.) a short time later.  Tesla is the exception to the rule.  Because its founder, Elon Musk, is a billionaire who spends his own money.  A lot of it.  Unlike the other failed clean-tech start-ups.

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The 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami both Helped GM and Hurt the Economy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 5th, 2012

Week in Review

Sadly for President Obama and GM the Japanese have recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  And GM has to face some formidable competition once again (see More Bad News for Obama: A Slump at GM by Rick Newman posted 8/2/2012 on U.S News & World Report).

The downshift seems to have scotched any notion of the government selling its stake in the company prior to the November elections, since that would amount to a taxpayer loss of roughly $17 billion, and a major embarrassment for Obama. The government can hold onto its shares as long as it likes, and sell when the price is high enough to get all its money back. But the stock would have to hit about $53 for Uncle Sam to break even—a threshold that seems a long way off…

One reason GM has lost market share this year has been the resurgence of Toyota, Honda and Nissan, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disrupted production and temporarily boosted the market share of Japan’s competitors…

Funny.  For the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for America’s lingering recession.  According to President Obama.  And here it was propping up GM and all the economic activity it generated.  Which was why the government bailed out GM.  To save jobs.  And all of that economic activity GM created.  So if the 2011 earthquake and tsunami was responsible for propping up GM why didn’t it prop up the rest of the economy?  Like Japan’s Lost Decade helped Bill Clinton’s economy during the Nineties?  Simple.  Because President Obama’s economic policies are just that bad.

GM will probably regain some momentum in 2013, when it rolls out its next generation of large SUVs, which are usually highly profitable. Meanwhile, Cadillac is on a roll, thanks to the new ATS compact, the XTS large sedan, and improving quality ratings. Chevrolet has three new models out or on the way—the Malibu and Impala sedans and the Spark subcompact—and a refreshed version of the popular Traverse crossover is coming next year as well…

Nobody would like to see the government sell its stake in GM more than GM. CEO Dan Akerson has complained about the company’s unhappy status as a political football, and the toll that takes on sales and morale. But he’s probably going to have to put up with it for a good while longer.

The car President Obama wanted Government Motors, I mean, General Motors to build is not even mentioned in this article.  The Chevy Volt hybrid.  Which is conspicuous by its absence.  Instead they mention the things his administration opposes.  SUVs.  And large sedans.  Vehicles the American people want to buy.  Perhaps encouraging GM to build something the American people didn’t want to buy also had something to do with GM’s falling stock price.

Perhaps it would be best for the government to sell its shares now.  Even at a loss.  So GM can run the car company.  And not politicians who don’t know the first thing about running a car company.  Ending his war on the stuff that makes these cars run, refined petroleum, would help, too.  A lot.  By bringing the cost of gasoline down.  Helping GM to sell more of the vehicles people want to buy.  Doing these things would help the economy more than 2011 earthquake and tsunami helped it.  Now that would be smart government.  Sadly, something we just don’t see much of these days.

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