设为首页 - 加入收藏
您的当前位置:英语阅读网 > 英语新闻 > 科学技术 > 正文


来源:英语阅读 编辑:英语学习 时间:2017-07-20

知了英语编者按:汽车从一开始就吸引了疯狂的投机活动。正如沃伦.巴菲特(Warren Buffett)喜欢指出的那样,多数投资者损失惨重:在20世纪初2000家美国汽车公司中,只有3家坚持了下来。“当然,你本应该做的一件事是,”这位奥马哈圣人(Sage of Omaha)不止一次地说,“做空(汽车问世前拖车的)马。”

ENENU Editor's note:Cars attracted frenzied speculation from the start. As Warren Buffett likes to point out, most investors got burnt: of 2,000 US car companies at the start of the 20th century three endured. “Of course, the thing you should have been doing,” the Sage of Omaha has remarked more than once, “was shorting horses.”


Investors are once more captivated by cars, this time electric and autonomous ones. Unlike 100 years ago, however, there are not 2,000 companies on which to bet. Some might look to Google parent Alphabet or Apple, the technology groups for whom cars are just a large research cost; most, though, alight on Tesla, the electric carmaker.


Yet it is not certain that Tesla has the staying power of a General Motors rather than the shorter life of a Winton Motor Carriage Company or one of the other original also-rans. And while the market seems to have identified traditional carmakers as the “horses”, they are not heading for the knacker’s yard and could adapt to a new market.

然而,现在还不能确定特斯拉是否具备通用汽车(General Motors)那样的持久力,而不是像某个Winton Motor Carriage Company或者其他最初的平庸企业之一那样短命。与此同时,尽管市场似乎将传统汽车制造商视为“马”,但它们并未走向老弱马匹屠宰场,而是完全有可能适应新市场。

At Tesla, chief executive Elon Musk is a magnetic evangelist for his company, convincing shareholders to supply more cash to fund factories and cars. They have poured in more than $7bn since the 2010 initial public offering. Additional shares bring dilution which should reduce the price, but it has marched higher, up 50 per cent this year. Even analysts at Goldman Sachs, Tesla’s preferred underwriter for the share sales, now reckon no one should buy them: its price target of $180 is almost 50 per cent below the current level.

在特斯拉,首席执行官埃隆?马斯克(Elon Musk)是他公司的一位富有魅力的传道士,善于说服股东拿出更多资金来为工厂和汽车融资。自2010年首次公开发行(IPO)以来,他们已投入逾70亿美元。更多的股票将产生稀释作用,应该会降低股价,但该公司股价却大踏步向前,今年以来上涨50%。就连特斯拉青睐的股票发行承销商高盛(Goldman Sachs)的分析师现在也认为,谁都不应买入这些股票:其股价目标为180美元,比当前价格低近一半。

With a $50bn valuation despite no profits, negative free cash flow and frequently missed delivery targets, Tesla is a compelling counterpoint to the complaint that markets are fixated on the short term. It has lost money every year since going public in 2010 and burnt almost $7bn of cash along the way. Despite promising to reach positive free cash flow, Tesla has only achieved it in four of 34 quarters: capital spending usually overwhelms the cash coming in.


Listen to Mr Musk at the annual meeting last month and that is not a surprise. He swept from solar roof tiles to powering a Hawaiian island, to a plan for a car that would drive itself from California to New York without any human intervention, to 20 vast “gigafactories” producing batteries, to a prototype truck that would be unveiled in September.


“It’s not inconceivable I would do an electric plane,” he said, adding: “no, I’m not saying we’re going to add a nuclear fusion reactor. I’m just saying it fits.”


Yet Tesla delivered only 76,000 cars last year. Morgan Stanley analysts forecast it will not surpass 1m until 2028. Toyota, Volkswagen and GM each produce about 10m cars a year out of global sales of 90m. For the Model 3, its new mass-market car priced at $35,000, Tesla has said it will produce 5,000 a week at some point in 2017 and 10,000 a week at some point in 2018. There were 400,000 initial deposits of $1,000. But the deposits are refundable and the car is not yet on the roads, though it says it will be delivered on schedule.

然而,特斯拉去年仅交付了7.6万辆汽车。摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)分析师预测,其产量在2028年之前不会超过100万辆。丰田(Toyota)、大众(Volkswagen)和通用汽车(GM)各自的汽车年产量都达到1000万辆左右,而全球汽车销量为9000万辆。对于价格为3.5万美元、面向大众的新款汽车Model 3,特斯拉表示,2017年某时将达到每周生产5000辆,2018年某时将达到每周生产1万辆。现在有40万人支付了1000美元的定金。但这些定金可以退还,而这款汽车还未上市,尽管特斯拉表示将按计划交付。

Seeking to rein in demand, even Mr Musk is imploring people not to buy it; orders placed now do not have hope of delivery until the end of 2018.


38% The share of the market held by electric cars in 1900. Thomas Edison the inventor, above, worked on electric car batteries throughout the first decade of the 20th century.

38% 1900年电动汽车的市场占有率。

By then there will be more competition. GM has shown with the Chevy Bolt that it can make an electric car with both a range — 238 miles on one charge — and a pricetag similar to the Model 3.

到那时,竞争将更加激烈。通用汽车已用雪佛兰Bolt(Chevy Bolt)证明,其能够制造一款在续航里程(充一次电行驶238英里)和价格上与Model 3相近的电动汽车。

If the Bolt falls short on style, then companies including BMW, Daimler, Nissan and VW will deliver more alluring models in the next two years. VW plans 10 new models by then and for electric vehicles to account for 20-25 per cent of sales by 2025. Honda wants two-thirds of its vehicles to be partly electric-powered by 2030, a goal that includes petrol/electric hybrids such as the Accord. Volvo went a step further this week, announcing the end of the purely petrol engine in its cars from 2019. Having previously focused on hydrogen fuel cell technology, Toyota, too, is ramping up its electric ambitions.


Even if the Model 3 succeeds, it is hard to imagine Tesla ever matching the sales of the biggest carmakers. Yet it is valued as if it will. VW, GM and Toyota each sell about 10m cars a year and make a combined $34bn in net income between them. Tesla, with consistent losses and less than 1 per cent of its volume, overtook GM this year to become the most valuable US carmaker. Finding another way to live up to its enterprise value requires a leap of faith that Tesla can attain and exploit an advantage in some other technology — batteries or autonomous cars perhaps.

即便Model 3大获成功,也很难想象特斯拉能够达到各大汽车制造商的销量。但从特斯拉的估值来看,貌似它应该能够做到。大众、通用汽车、丰田每家的年销量都为1000万辆左右,净利润共计340亿美元。今年,持续亏损且产量不到通用汽车1%的特斯拉,已取代通用汽车成为美国市值最高的汽车制造商。找到另一条途径来实现它的企业价值,需要一次信心飞跃,或许是特斯拉能够获取并利用其他什么技术——电池或自动驾驶汽车。

This week Tesla has hit trouble; whether it is a bump in the road or something more serious remains to be seen. Weak sales data fed the narrative that potential customers were forgoing existing models and waiting for the cheaper Model 3; the shares are off almost a fifth from their recent high. More than most companies, Tesla needs its inflated stock price since it relies on the stock market for funding.

最近特斯拉遭遇了麻烦;这是一个小波折还是更严重的问题仍有待观察。疲软的销售数据引发猜测——潜在的客户正在放弃现有的车型,等待更便宜的Model 3;特斯拉的股价已从近期的高点跌去近五分之一。特斯拉比大多数公司更需要虚高的股价,因为它要依赖股市融资。

Plenty of sceptics have lost money betting on the shares to fall. S3 Partners, a financial analytics firm which tracks short sellers, estimates their losses are $4bn this year. It does not mean the short sellers are wrong: the road to success for Tesla still looks incredibly narrow.

很多怀疑者因为押注特斯拉股价下跌而赔了钱。追踪卖空者的金融分析公司S3 Partners估计,他们今年的损失将达40亿美元。这并不意味着卖空者错了:特斯拉的成功之路看起来仍极其狭窄。

While Tesla soars, the broader industry is being treated as if it is seriously ill, with a price/earnings multiple that is about the lowest in 20 years. Traditional carmakers have inspired no faith in their ability to adapt to new technology. Doubts are understandable. As recently as 2009, GM and Chrysler were going through bankruptcy. The emissions scandal that cost VW and other car manufacturers billions of dollars struck only two years ago.


In May, a month after Tesla overtook its market value, Ford ousted chief executive Mark Fields for failing to push fast enough into the future. GM has made bolder bets, paying $581m for Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based autonomous driving company; investing $500m in Lyft, the ride-hailing company; and launching Maven, a car-sharing app, with the surprising admission that, when city dwellers buy a car, it depreciates “fairly rapidly, you use it 3 per cent of the time, and you pay a vast amount of money to park it for the other 97 per cent of the time”.

今年5月,在市值上被特斯拉超越一个月后,福特解雇了首席执行官马克?菲尔茨(Mark Fields),理由是他未能足够快地带领公司向未来推进。通用汽车做出了更大胆的押注,向总部位于旧金山的自动驾驶汽车公司Cruise Automation投资5.81亿美元;向叫车服务公司Lyft投资5亿美元;推出共享汽车应用Maven,并出人意料地承认,当城市居民购买一辆车时,它贬值“相当快,你只是在3%的时间里使用它,但要为其余97%的时间花大量钱支付停车费”。

However, this is not being rewarded in the market any more than Ford’s more cautious approach. GM trades at a depressed multiple of five times expected earnings. Investors believe in future car technologies, but not that the current carmakers will profit.


The same divide is reflected among suppliers. Intel paid $15bn in March for Mobileye, an Israeli company that makes sensors for driverless cars and not much in the way of profit: the price works out at more than 100 times core earnings, not dissimilar to Tesla’s valuation. Nvidia, whose chips are used in self-driving technology, has seen its shares triple in a year.


Federal-Mogul on the other hand, founded in Detroit in 1899 and a maker of less glamorous parts such as pistons and gaskets, was valued at $1.7bn, just 2.5 times core earnings, when it was acquired this year by Carl Icahn.

另一方面,辉门公司(Federal-Mogul)今年被卡尔?伊卡恩(Carl Icahn)收购时的估值为17亿美元,仅为核心盈利的2.5倍。1899年成立于底特律的辉门公司是一家生产活塞、密封垫等普通配件的制造商。

Delphi, another large supplier, made the decision to split into two and was immediately rewarded with a 10 per cent increase in the stock price. Shareholders assume the advanced electronics division will be valued more attractively once shorn of the engine division.


Yet the gloom surrounding the incumbents seems overdone. Ford’s free cash flow is about $13bn, enough to buy back all of its own depressed shares within three years. Low interest rates have helped prolong a period of bumper sales. US sales, which fell to a rate of 9m in 2009, remain close to 17m a year, although sales are now declining.


President Donald Trump may enjoy torturing carmakers for their overseas plants but he is hardly going to upend their business models with tough environmental rules and incentives. Mr Trump tweeted this week: “Gas prices are the lowest in the US in over 10 years! I would like to see them go even lower.”

美国总统唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)或许乐于吓唬在海外投资设厂的美国汽车制造商,但他不太可能用严厉的环保法规和激励措施来颠覆他们的商业模式。特朗普近日发推文称:“美国汽油价格处于10多年来的最低水平!我希望看到它们降得更低。”

Indeed, gas prices in the US are about $2.50 a gallon, while they have spent most of the past decade closer to $4. While investors become excited by electric cars, Ford is selling gas-guzzling pick-up trucks in record numbers.


Change will come, but judging the pace is crucial. Opec, which has a vested interest, predicts that fewer than 7 per cent of vehicles on the road will be fully electric as far away as 2040. The oil producers’ cartel also assumes the number of cars will double from today to 2bn. Tech evangelists scoff at this, claiming more will be electric and more will be shared and autonomous.


But even under more radical forecasts — UBS predicts electric vehicles, including hybrids, will account for 14 per cent of sales by 2025 — there will still be plenty of petrol-powered cars. If investors remain so down on the industry, private equity firms should be able to strike bargain deals for cash generative companies.


And if change is more rapid, some carmakers should be better insulated than before. Steve Rattner, the “car tsar” in the Obama administration, highlights how rapidly the new threats have emerged. “I literally never heard the words ‘autonomous vehicle’ or ‘ride-sharing’,” he says of his time supervising the restructuring of GM and Chrysler in 2009, but notes that the carmakers were made to cut costs so they could break even if sales stayed at 10m a year. That should help when the cycle turns and even cushion a more profound blow, such as more people choosing to hail or share rather than own their cars.

如果变革更为迅速,一些汽车制造商应该会比以前具备更好的抗压能力。曾在奥巴马政府担任“汽车沙皇”的史蒂夫?拉特纳(Steve Rattner)指出新的威胁可能迅速出现。他在谈到2009年他监督通用汽车和克莱斯勒重组时表示,“那时我真的从未听到过‘自动驾驶汽车’或‘拼车’。”但他指出,这些汽车制造商被勒令削减成本,这样如果销量保持在每年1000万辆的话,它们就能实现盈亏平衡。这将在周期变化时有所帮助,甚至能够缓解更沉重的打击,例如更多的人选择打车或拼车,而不是买车。

“We may have left these companies reasonably positioned to at least hold their own financially,” says Mr Rattner.


Detroit’s sunniest optimists even say that, when the world shifts, the carmakers will thrive: fat operating margins will be available for managing autonomous fleets of taxis and buses or providing insurance. Ford forecasts it will make margins of more than 20 per cent from these services.


Few endorse these estimates. Max Warburton, analyst at Bernstein, argues: “Precisely none of these activities makes 20 per cent margins for anyone, anywhere.”

几乎无人支持这些预测。伯恩斯坦(Bernstein)分析师马克斯?沃伯顿(Max Warburton)辩称:“这些活动根本不可能实现20%的利润率,对任何地区的任何一家企业都是如此。”

It is understandable that such profits would appeal to carmakers, whose operating margins range from 2 per cent at Ford to 8 per cent at Daimler. Yet their puny margins offer some defence: why would tech titans such as Alphabet, with an operating margin above 26 per cent, start making cars?


Rather than cut out the incumbents, collaboration is more likely. Tech companies might provide the core technology, mainly the software, for self-driving cars while the carmakers stick to their capital-intensive, low-margin business.


Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary which has racked up more than 3m autonomous miles, has a partnership with Fiat Chrysler, which is supplying 600 minivans. Waymo has also linked up with Lyft, the app that competes with Uber, and Avis Budget. Semi-autonomous trips are expected before the end of the year.

Alphabet子公司Waymo的自动驾驶里程已超过300万英里,该公司与菲亚特克莱斯勒(Fiat Chrysler)合作,由后者提供600辆面包车。Waymo已和与优步(Uber)竞争的应用Lyft以及Avis Budget合作。预计在今年底之前将推出半自动驾驶行程。

The unknown is Apple, which is working on cars and does not typically put its software in another company’s hardware. If Tesla can succeed in producing vehicles at scale then surely so could the world’s richest company. But it would require more daring than has been seen at Apple since the death of Steve Jobs.

一个未知因素是苹果,正致力于研发汽车的该公司一般不会将自己的软件置于另一家公司的硬件中。如果特斯拉的电动汽车能够成功实现量产,那么这家全球最富有的公司肯定也能。但相比史蒂夫?乔布斯(Steve Jobs)去世后人们看到的苹果,该公司需要展现出更多勇气。

Traditional carmakers cannot afford to relax but they should be wary of rash moves. Incumbents can sometimes make the technological leap and still come a cropper.


Studebaker, a horse-drawn carriage company of the 19th century, became a successful carmaker in the 20th. But it continued paying a large dividend after the 1929 stock market crash, invested heavily in new vehicles and pulled off a big acquisition. This all fatally damaged the balance sheet, the company collapsed in March 1933 and three months later Albert Erskine, Studebaker’s president, took a revolver to the bathroom and shot himself through the heart.

19世纪的马车公司斯蒂贝克(Studebaker)在20世纪成为一家成功的汽车制造商。但在1929年股市崩盘后仍继续支付较高股息,大举投资新汽车,还完成了一笔大规模并购。这一切给资产负债表带来致命损伤,该公司于1933年3月破产,3个月后,斯蒂贝克总裁阿尔伯特?厄斯金(Albert Erskine)带着一把左轮手枪来到浴室,朝着自己的心脏开了枪。

Above the news of Mr Erskine’s death on the front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune is an unrelated cartoon, which provides a reminder that technological forecasts are seldom on the money. A man proclaims that within 25 years indestructible planes powered wirelessly from the earth will transport passengers at 1,000mph. The caption reads: “Today no one considers the most fantastic prediction to be improbable.”

在《芝加哥论坛报》(Chicago Daily Tribune)首页上厄斯金自杀的消息上方是一张与此无关的漫画,它提醒人们科技预测很少是正确的。在漫画上,一位男子宣称,在25年内,从地球上无线供电的坚不可摧的飞机将以1000英里的时速载客飞行。标题是:“如今,没有人认为最荒诞的预测是不可能的。”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Eley, Christian Pfrang and Sujeet Indap

乔纳森?埃利(Jonathan Eley)、克里斯蒂安?普夫朗(Christian Pfrang)和苏吉特?因达普(Sujeet Indap)补充报道

Copyright © 2008-2020 知了英语学习网 版权所有 湘ICP备17007075-4号