A new trend has emerged as auto manufacturers are seeking out start-ups for their technology in a mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps best exemplified by GM and Nikola’s plan for a partnership. In this post, we look at the original deal, ensuing issues, and current plans. We will also look at what this trend could mean for dealerships going forward, and the importance of the valuation date.
With the election just two weeks away, we think it’s timely to discuss the candidates’ platforms and determine the impact of their differing policies. Each candidate’s platform contains positions on many issues – some that would directly impact the automotive industry, and others that would indirectly impact the industry. A vote for one doesn’t necessarily signal a vote for the automotive industry or vice versa. While we don’t intend for this blog post to be political, we will examine each candidate’s position on four issues and discuss their impact on the automotive industry: trade policy, taxes, energy, and the environment.
While economic recovery is still uncertain as the pandemic continues on and new relief bills are on the ropes, there are other ways outside of the box for auto dealers to show resiliency during this time and plan for economic success going forward. This includes opportunities that exist in estate planning this fall for owners of assets in the auto dealer, and all, industries. Three converging factors have this fall shaping up to be the busiest estate planning season since 2012: potentially depressed valuation of assets and businesses, historically low interest rates, and uncertainty regarding the political administration going forward.
Observations from Recent Litigation Engagements
A common topic from several recent auto dealer litigation cases is personal goodwill. Not only is its presence hotly debated, but practitioners further attempt to discern just how much of a business’ value is directly related to personal goodwill. There’s no textbook that discusses where it exists and where it doesn’t, and it’s more prevalent in certain types of businesses or industries than others. Before any attempts to measure and quantify it, I think the most important question to ask is “does it exist?” Often with ambiguous concepts like personal goodwill, the adage “you know it when you see it” is most appropriate.
How EV Start-Ups Are Taking Advantage of SPACs to Enter the Public Market
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the electric vehicle (EV) market has been all the rage lately, driven primarily by Tesla’s success in creating main stream electric vehicles. We’ve discussed the “Tesla Story” extensively in previous posts, and their stock has continued to rise. It was sitting around $2,200 last Friday, up from $216 last year, or an astounding 918%. Tesla split its stock 5-1 Monday and was hovering around $450 at the time of writing this post.
As expected, other companies want to capitalize on the hype that Tesla has created in the industry, with EV start-ups trying to capture a slice of the pie. This summer has been a huge one for the industry, with electric vehicle startups Nikola, Fisker, Hyiilon, Lordstown, and Canoo all either going public or announcing plans to go public. Notably, however, they are not relying on the typical, lengthy IPO route to achieve this. Instead, they are using special purpose acquisition companies (or SPACs) to hit public markets quicker. In this post, we will walk through the companies going public, the deals, pros and cons of the SPAC, and what this could mean for your dealership.
Policy and Oil Price Implications for EV Sales
The current focus for new auto technologies is less focused on speed, and more on sustainability, as there appears to be a shift in focus away from developing the century-old gasoline-powered vehicle to electric. The electric-vehicle (EV) industry has shown to be an attractive long-term alternative for manufacturers. In this post, we’ll survey the landscape including the beginnings of EVs, major players in the industry, and the future outlook.
In this week’s post, we review a timeline of the Asbury-Park Place transaction, along with an analysis of Asbury’s stock price against the rest of its public competitors and also examine the operational strategy of Asbury over the years to explain aspects of the Park Place acquisition. As with any merger or acquisition, the true success or failure of the deal may not be known for years. Investors and industry professionals can try and play armchair quarterback and try to predict the outcome. This blog post aims to provide ample information so that you can “make the call” on the transaction.
For this week’s blog post, we sat down with Kevin Nill of Haig Partners to discuss trends in the auto dealer industry and the recent release of their First Quarter 2020 Haig Report. Haig Partners is a leading investment banking firm that focuses on buy/sell transactions in the auto dealer industry, along with other transportation segments. As readers in this space are familiar, Haig Partners also publishes Blue Sky multiples for each of the auto manufacturers based on their observations and data from participating in transactions in this industry.
Are we witnessing a revolution in the auto industry similar to that of Blockbuster and online streaming, or simply an evolution into more tech-savvy dealerships? The current COVID-19 pandemic has auto dealers scrambling to find ways to maintain sales as stay at home orders are keeping customers from the dealership. To move vehicles off the lot, dealerships have been pushed into a new era of online car sales. While many auto dealers have only somewhat dipped their toe into the digital space, they have now been pushed off the deep end.
Auto dealers are in a unique situation. While technically categorized as consumer “discretionary” items, many people rely on their cars to navigate their busy daily lives. With activity grinding to a halt amidst stay-at-home orders, cars are tipping more towards discretionary items (despite many dealerships being deemed essential businesses).
While more practical than other expensive purchases, like a designer handbag, automobiles become less of a priority when budgets are trimmed, particularly when people are staying at home. All told, this will likely lead consumers to delay their purchases of cars, particularly those who want to peruse their options by walking a lot and test driving various makes and models.
While other retail industries have fallen prey to the “Amazon effect,” auto dealers have avoided this fate because many consumers are not yet comfortable making such a significant investment without first getting behind the wheel. However, this means sales activity is even more adversely impacted by the current environment. Consumers with disposable income are more likely to spend it on other high-end items that require less personal inspection for style and feel before buying. As we’ll discuss, this is just one of the impacts the coronavirus is having on the auto industry.
Lessons for the Auto Dealer Industry
Auto dealers are a resilient, adaptable group by nature. It’s one of the reasons many have been able to survive economic hardships or sluggish industry conditions in the past. While we haven’t witnessed the unique totality of the conditions that are present today, auto dealers can adopt some of the principles from the Great Recession to try and mitigate the challenges during the survival mode portion that we currently face.
While Tesla has accumulated a cult following of people both for and against, its share price likely has little to do with the value of franchised dealerships in the US.