almost 2 years ago • 3 mins
Stellantis announced this week that it’s planning to team up with Samsung to build a new EV battery plant.
What does this mean?
You probably know Stellantis, if not necessarily by name: the carmaker is the result of last year’s merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot. And as if committed to this aura of anonymity, it’s been slow to make itself relevant, selling just 400,000 electric vehicles last year. So now it wants to make up for lost time: Stellantis has said it’s aiming to sell 5 million EVs a year by 2030, and for EVs to make up all of its European sales and half its North American sales by then too.
But to do that, it’s going to need enough batteries to power them. Cue a deal with LG Energy Solution in March, which involved building a $4.1 billion battery plant in Canada, And cue this deal with Samsung, which involves building a $2.5 billion battery plant in the US by 2025.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Don’t rely on China.
Stellantis knows the wind is blowing in one direction: analysts estimate that EVs made up more than 10% of all new vehicle sales last quarter, and they think that figure’s only going to keep rising. But there’s also speculation that the sudden uptick in demand will make carmakers even more dependent on China, which is the world’s biggest processor of – well, almost every material needed for battery production. That might be why battery powerhouses CATL and LG Energy Solution have collectively pledged $16 billion to build out the EV battery supply chain.
Zooming out: Even a conglomerate has hobbies.
EV batteries are small potatoes to Samsung: the conglomerate – whose businesses span everything from electronics to drugs – revealed plans this week to boost spending by over 30% to $360 billion over the next five years. It’ll use that massive investment to create next-gen microchips, develop more biotech products, and more.
Keep reading for our next story...
UK grocery chain Marks & Spencer (M&S) reported strong annual results on Wednesday.
What does this mean?
The first thing to know about M&S is that it’s fancier than your average grocery store – think more Whole Foods than Walmart. The second thing to know is that its business has been flailing for a while, and it’s been trying everything – cutting costs, investing in ecommerce, expanding its food business – to reclaim its spot on the index of the UK’s 100 biggest stocks. And in its last financial year, it finally edged closer: M&S reported on Wednesday that its revenue rose at its fastest in at least a decade, while its adjusted pre-tax profits were up more than tenfold in the same time.
So you did have to feel sorry for the company when it said it wasn’t expecting this strong business to last, and that its profit would take a hit this year as financial pressures pile up on customers even more.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Online isn’t the future.
That slowdown is already being felt by Ocado Retail, the joint online grocery offering from M&S and Ocado. M&S earned just £14 million ($17.5 million) in profit from the venture last year – well down from the £79 million ($99 million) of the year before. It doesn’t look like things are changing anytime soon, either: the business issued a profit warning on Wednesday, as well as cut its full-year sales outlook for a second time.
The bigger picture: Inequality, thy name is Britain.
Still, analysts reckon that since M&S’s customers are typically more well-to-do, they’re better placed to absorb the higher prices of quinoa and quail eggs. After all, data out this week showed that higher earners’ salaries are now growing faster than those of lower earners. That’s a sharp reversal from before the pandemic, and suggests inequality in the UK is back on the rise.
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