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Elon Musk Goes to Court to Defend His $56 Billion Tesla Pay

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A photo of Tesla boss Elon Musk at a plant in Germany.

Photo: Christian Marquardt – Pool (Getty Images)

Tesla boss Elon Musk is heading to court to defend his $56 billion paycheck from the electric car maker, ceramics producers in China are switching to Lithium manufacturing to meet demand for EV components and Lucid is doing battle with the State of Texas. All this and more in The Morning Shift for Monday, November 7, 2022.

1st Gear: Elon Musk Faces Trial Over $56 Billion Tesla Pay Package

Have you ever sat down and wondered what your work is really worth? When you compare the amount of time and effort you put in, how should your salary stack up against, say, a bartender, doctor or professional football player? In 2018, Tesla boss Elon Musk thought about what he was worth, and decided that his work should earn him $56 billion. Not million, fifty six billion dollars.

Now, Musk is facing a legal battle over the enormous pay packet, which is roughly one million times greater than the average salary here in the U.S., Reuters reports:

“A Tesla shareholder is seeking to rescind Musk’s 2018 pay deal, claiming the board set easy performance targets and that Musk created the package to fund his dream of colonizing Mars.

“Tesla has countered that the package delivered an extraordinary 10-fold increase in value to shareholders.”

The trial begins November 14 at Delaware’s Court of Chancery. During proceedings, Tesla shareholder Richard Tornetta and his lawyers will argue that the 2018 pay package “failed its stated purpose of focusing Musk on Tesla.” They will frame Musk as a “part-time CEO” – a title that might be hard to argue against as during 2018 he served as boss at both Tesla and Space X, and was working with the Boring Company and Neuralink.

If $56 billion wasn’t enough to get Musk to focus his full attention on Tesla back then, what astronomical pay rise will be required to drag him kicking and screaming away from the corpse of Twitter in a few week’s time?

2nd Gear: Bathroom Suppliers Switch to Lithium Production

If it’s not a chip shortage then it’s an aluminum shortage. And, if it’s not that, then there’s probably a low supply of some other essential ingredient in the recipe of car construction. Now, to try and combat growing demand for EV battery components, Chinese companies that would normally make bathroom tiles are switching to lithium production.

According to a report from Bloomberg, ceramics producers in Gao’an city in China’s Jiangxi province have switched to make lithium briquettes, which can be further processed into chemicals used in battery production.

“In part, the change reflects the sector’s struggles with overcapacity amid a deep malaise in China’s property market and the impact of higher fuel prices. Yet it’s also an illustration of how the battery supply chain is scouring every available corner to find new sources of lithium raw materials.”

While the switch to creating lithium briquettes instead of bathroom tiles might sound like a big change, it’s actually a material these companies are used to dealing with. Bloomberg says lithium is used to increase the strength of ceramics and to “produce more vivid colors in glazes.”

3rd Gear: Nissan and Renault Are on Rocky Ground

For more than 20 years, Nissan and Renault have been working together to develop and create millions of cars that are out on the road today. But, that long-standing relationship is going through a rough patch as the two companies argue over their electric future.

According to Automotive News, Nissan and Renault can’t agree on policies surrounding the sharing of their electric vehicle tech. Renault is keen to license “hundreds of jointly developed patented technologies” to other EV makers, such as new Chinese partner Zheijiang Geely Holding Group.

But, Nissan has concerns over the plans. From Automotive News.

“Nissan sees risks in Renault CEO Luca de Meo’s plan to merge the French carmaker’s combustion-engine operations with Geely, the people said, and are seeking assurances that key technologies will be protected under any deal with the Hangzhou-based automaker, owner of Volvo and Lotus car brands.”

The two companies must now decide what technologies they want to protect, and what can be licensed out to other EV makers to advance the electrification of the auto industry. Makoto Uchida, Nissan’s CEO, said such technology was a “very important core asset for the alliance.”

4th Gear: Lucid Sues Texas Over Direct-to-Consumer Sales

In the latest installment of “American car dealerships confuse me,” EV maker Lucid is suing the state of Texas to argue that it doesn’t need to use franchised dealers to sell its cars in the region.

At present, Californian EV maker Lucid sells its cars online and through a network of Lucid-owned studios. But in Texas, lawmakers argue that it can only market its vehicles at an independent franchised dealer. This, the company argues, is not “economically viable and would harm the business,” according to Automotive News. The site reports:

“Lucid Group Inc. filed a federal lawsuit in Texas accusing the state’s rules on auto dealerships of “economic protectionism” that hurt the company’s ability to sell its electric vehicles there.

“In a suit filed in Austin, Lucid said the state is acting anti-competitively in forcing companies to sell their products through established dealerships.”

Lucid, which currently offers the $100,000 Air sedan, is facing similar issues to those tackled by Tesla in Texas and Michigan.

After a lengthy legal battle, Tesla is now able to sell its EVs directly to consumers in Michigan, but the Musk-backed company still cannot sell its cars in Texas due to the state’s franchise laws.

5th Gear: Climate Activists Finally Protest the Right People

After a ridiculously hot weekend that saw me spend a November day sunning myself on the beach, I can confirm that the world is on fire. And in response to the sky-high temperatures and ridiculous weather patterns all around the world, it sounds like climate protesters have finally found the right people to shout at.

After protesters sparked debate by gluing themselves to highways and priceless works of art, a group of climate change activists in The Netherlands have been blockading private airports in the country. Reuters reports:

“Hundreds of environmental activists wearing white overalls stormed an area holding private jets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and stopped aircraft from leaving for hours by sitting in front of their wheels on Saturday.

“Military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses. More than 100 activists were arrested, national broadcaster NOS reported.”

The protests were organized by Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion in the build-up to the COP27 climate talks in Egypt. Campaigners argued that fewer private flights were needed to try and curb emissions, including “a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”

Despite being on the runway for “hours” over the weekend, Reuters says that “no delays to commercial flights were reported.”

Reverse: A Bridge Too Far

Neutral: The Answer is Always Miata

Did you have a nice weekend? I did, I finally got behind the wheel of a ND Miata for a trip to the beach – it was lovely. The sun was shining, the wind was flowing through my hair and I had a wonderful manual sports car to play with. What a day.

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