Waterlogged EVs Exploding, Amazon Stops Scout Autonomous Delivery Program, Bad News = Good News

October 7, 2022
It’s Friday and we’re wrapping up this week's news talking about an unanticipated challenge with waterlogged EVs. We’re also talking about why Amazon is pulling the plug on its autonomous delivery robot program, as well as what we should be looking for in today's jobs report.
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Waterlogged EVs are beginning to ‘explode’ according to Florida’s Chief Fire Marshal

  • "There’s a ton of EVs disabled from Ian. As those batteries corrode, fires start," Patronis tweeted Thursday. "That’s a new challenge that our firefighters haven’t faced before. At least on this kind of scale."
  • Crews are using hundreds of gallons of water attempting to put these fires out
  • At NAMAD, Mark Bland of S&P Global mentioned that only 50% of fire stations nationwide are equipped with the training and resources to fight these EV fires

Amazon has pulled the plug on its ‘Scout’ autonomous delivery robot program after three years citing the program was not meeting customer expectations

  • Cooler sized robots on 6 wheels would carry packages directly to consumers homes and open its side hatch to allow the packages to be received
  • The program was about 3 years old and began autonomous deliveries in sidewalks communities in Seattle before expanding the program to Southern California
  • About 400 amazon employees were assigned to the project and will be offered jobs in other areas of the company
  • This is a sign that CEO Andy Jassey is reprioritizing funds as sales growth begins to slow from record levels

Good news could be bad news when it comes to the job report releasing today

  • During his talk at NAMAD, Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Cox Automotive, mentioned that historically low unemployment reports would continue to push the fed to raise interest rates at their aggressive pace.
  • Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the report, due out Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET, will show that payrolls increased 275,000 in September, while the unemployment rate held at 3.7%. At least as important, estimates are for average hourly earnings to increase 0.3% month over month and 5.1% from a year ago.
  • One major concern is that both job growth and wage growth are outpacing inflation, leading to supply side recession. The hope is that if jobless claims rise, less aggressive spending would hit the market.
  • “I don’t think the Fed is going to pivot or pause or anything of that nature before the end of the year, certainly not because of jobs data,” said Shannon Saccocia, Chief Investment Officer at SVB Private Bank.

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS

evs, waterlogged, jobs, dealers, people, amazon, oems, happen, spending, increase, consumer spending, literally, fed, economists, neighborhood, continue, bad news, pulled, good news, walking

SPEAKERS

Kyle Mountsier, Paul Daly, Alex Flores


Paul Daly  00:00

It's Friday, October 7, and this is the first time ever we're coming to you on a beach we


Kyle Mountsier  00:06

got birds got the sunrise. It's amazing.


Paul Daly  00:09

We literally have the sunrise, it's gonna come over the clouds any second now. And it looks like there's a rainstorm and a massive cargo ship out there. But today, we're talking about a few things we're gonna talk about waterlogged EVs. We're gonna talk about Amazon canceling its Scout autonomous delivery robot program. Remember that? And we're also going to talk about why bad news might be good news. There we go. We don't have any intro music today.


Kyle Mountsier  00:32

No Intro Music We're rolling. Hey, we're still out here at name add. Yesterday was a really great day, there was a lot of good conversations, a lot of data around just like EVs, how they're pressing into different sectors of communities and cultures. And so it's been just an encouraging and I love like the energy here is just unbelievable. You go around the parties and things like that, as


Paul Daly  00:56

you could tell our voices are a little bit shot, right? Because naman has music everywhere, which means we're always yelling, yes. And we don't realize it. It's like four on the floor with the with the strong beat everywhere. So it's great, great conversation, great community. So I don't think we have any announcements today. No, let's just talk about the news. So no less than multiple people texted you and me the same story within 30 minutes. And this is a story that came from Fox News about waterlogged EVs. And I think the ones that were they use examples were actually Tesla's that, during the hurricane and the storm surge, they got waterlogged with saltwater, and they are just exploding.


Kyle Mountsier  01:35

Right? So it's interesting because it it's not like it happened. You know, last week when everything was going down. It's been Okay, later that these waterlogged, you know, saltwater logged vehicles are now starting to catch fire because of the pressure that was on them. And so they're catching fire. And the really wild thing is that the the fire crews are out there literally dumping gallons upon hundreds of gallons of water, attempting to put these fires out and it's not fixing it. It's pretty terrifying, actually. Yeah, it's


Paul Daly  02:07

pretty terrifying. Imagine being a firefighter and you're like, Where do I even put the water? What do I do next? Yeah, because think of even how enclosed the battery is. It's underneath the compartment. Yep, the cars all sealed up, even to try to break some windows and stuff. It's still sealed up. Like this is a real issue.


Kyle Mountsier  02:21

It is a real issue. And I think it's just one of those things that you know, it's not a typical thing, but it's one of those things we have to think about. It's just a whole new subset of things that are happening because EVs exist. You know, so


Paul Daly  02:35

we need to call this guy look at this guy. Come on.


Kyle Mountsier  02:38

We've got we've got a surprise guest for everybody. surprise guests. This is Oh, he's on clubhouse literally on on the phone or on clubhouse here we go right here. If you don't know this gentleman, this is Alex Flores. Owner, partner, General Manager. General everything at Bravo autos. How's how's the beach for you this morning, sir.


Alex Flores  03:00

Man in this beautiful it's a beautiful morning here in Miami Beach. And I'm walking and I see Wait a minute, the amazing Kyle call here. I got to come over here and say hi. Because these guys are amazing. It's just a blessing to be here, man. It's it's beautiful. And I'm really enjoying day Matt. And of course you spend time with you guys. And I was just discussing with some dealers about what we talked about which is, you know, not being dealers and becoming retailers and making it easy for our customers. We were just literally a second ago talking about the platinum rule which is not the Golden Rule treat people the way you want to be treated but treat people the way they want to be treated and make it to where we catered to the customer just like this resort right here. They cater to us we got to cater to our customers.


03:41

I love it. I love it what a good way to do both.


Paul Daly  03:45

We're not going to ask you anything else enjoy your walk he was like all coffee shop has earbuds in we just pulled them over here with him right I love you brother. So yeah, so this is a problem like everything right? You introduce a new technology or something? And then although you think like oh well you have to have some kind of plan for this. I guess not


Kyle Mountsier  04:06

well then one of the planning things that I hadn't thought about and yesterday Mark bland of s&p Go Global noted that over 50% of fire stations in the US actually don't have the capacity or the training to handle electric vehicle fires right


Paul Daly  04:22

What is it a certain chemical that you need to spray on the car? Probably I think baking soda right


Kyle Mountsier  04:27

not chemists.


Paul Daly  04:29

Not water is the answer. Yes, exactly. Water is the answer. So I mean, just a new interesting development. With all the recent things happening with the saltwater with the storm surge with the push to EVs. Just one more reminder that there are considerations that have to happen that maybe we should pump the brakes. A little bit is a little pun intended.


Kyle Mountsier  04:47

Speaking of pumping, the brakes stop saying oh yeah,


Paul Daly  04:52

I've really I never can hear someone say speaking of without


Kyle Mountsier  04:56

it was bad. Just like five people say that in the middle of pay. knows, and I was like, Yeah,


Paul Daly  05:02

I'll never never be there. But Amazon has pulled the plug on its Scout autonomous robot program. This is a program that's been going on for three years. And if you've probably seen it before, it's like a little blue droid, I guess. Yeah, that's what I put it has six wheels, and they cruise at low speed through neighborhoods, go up to doors, open the hatch, deliver the package, the program has been in place for three years started in Seattle, they expanded it to Southern California. And they actually had a human walking along with the robot, right? You don't have to test it out. But based on feedback from customers that it wasn't giving them the experience that they were looking for. Right. Amazon has pulled the plug. There are 400 people working on the project that will now be offered other jobs. And I'm trying to think like, what, what doesn't work? Right? Like, you think it'd be gray, little autonomous just shows up with your package. But there are a lot of things like, what does it do if you're not home?


Kyle Mountsier  05:54

Well, that's my thing is like the majority of time. Yeah. Yeah, the majority of the time, I'm not going to take the time to go even even if I am home. I'm 10 minutes late. At night. Yeah, leave it at the door. Yeah. So I think that that's, that's a big measure of feedback. Also, I mean, just the inconvenience of having that thing, just rolling around my neighborhood. That's just not something like my kids would be banging on that with baseball bats. And


Paul Daly  06:18

I was thinking that how many stickers like, once the human isn't there, like that is just rife for like, let's tip it over. Right? It's like the new cow tipping? Yes, right. That's perfect.


Kyle Mountsier  06:27

M is M is great. I'm sure there'll be some kids. And I think here's the thing, and I'm not discouraged by this, I think this is this is going to continue to happen over the next three to five years where there's so much new technology being introduced and new ways of doing business or interacting with the retail businesses, that people are going to be trying things there's going to be in and out there's going to be multiple iterations and different things. And I'm honestly proud of, of Amazon for being able to say, hey, look, we're gonna pull the plug, we've got places for these other 400 employees, we know that we can plug them into our retail ecosystem. And thank you for the feedback for the customers that were able to,


Paul Daly  07:04

they haven't they are leaving, like a few people on like to just keep maybe like thinking, what's an r&d development? It is. And Amazon has been known for trying things drone delivery, right? Putting packages in consumers cars, right? And all those types of things. So like you not discouraged and not hating on Amazon. This is I think another indicator of things are slowing down a little bit. Right? When times are good. You're spending money everywhere you can, right? You're trying to spend the money, you're trying to move the ball forward while the sun is shining. Right? And this is like an indicative of everything kind of slowing down. Everyone watching the economy and waiting to see what happens. Yes, speaking of waiting to see what happened


Kyle Mountsier  07:42

it is we are anticipating and by the time you listen to this or hear this probably the jobs report for q3 and for September more particularly would have come out. And we're starting to just hear this theme that actually good news in the eye of the beholder would actually be bad news, potentially for the overall economy. So when we think about good news, I think about more people getting jobs. So unemployment rates going down. Yes, consumer spending being strong, exactly right. All these things. We're like, Yay, that's good, right? The problem is, is that what happens when consumer spending continues to increase in Job rates continue to stay at a very, very low rate, the inflation is out. Jobs spending is outpacing typical inflation and prices go up. So prices continue to go up, which is what the Fed has been attempting to pull back on, because with all of the interest rate hikes. So essentially, what would happen is, there would be this perception that if jobless rates do not go up, the Fed would continue to press in tune with interest rates, which some have concerns on whether or not that could create a soft landing for us, instead of going into a recession.


Paul Daly  09:00

Jonathan smoke has been one of the more optimistic economists. And he's been very vocal about that. Right. I don't think it's going to crash. I don't think like earlier this year, we're not in a recession. Yep. His tone did change a little bit. You know, we heard him talking, you know, you can probably find this. If you just look at his latest economic forecasts. He's saying, you know, some of the things that we were saying might be good for the economy actually might be bad for us the overall because I think everyone can agree we want inflation to stop. But that does include things like increased supply. Yeah, right. Which from a business standpoint, you want just enough supply? Do


Kyle Mountsier  09:39

you want that amount? Right, right. Right now it's imbalanced as what the Fed and the economists are kind of saying. It looks like unemployment rates are gonna hold at 3.7% According to Inc, according to economists at Dow Jones, so it looks like payrolls are increasing overall. Um, this is


Paul Daly  10:00

another thing with like good news, right


Kyle Mountsier  10:02

news. I'm like more people with jobs fair wage increases, right a 5% 5.1% wage increase, which is, which is a wild deal. So Shannon's to Kosha, I hope said that name right, Chief Economist, Chief Investment Officer at SP SVB. Private Bank said, I don't think the Fed is going to pivot or pause, or anything of that nature before the end of the year, certainly not just because of jobs data. So essentially, trajectory is the same. So whether or not we get good or perceived bad news with the jobs, it seems like to her. And it seems like to a lot of others that they're going to stay the course. But it's still one of those things that like every economist is kind of waiting on pins and needles at this point.


Paul Daly  10:47

Well, the sun is finally cresting over the cloud, I've got a kick in the face there. We have a little bit more work to do at the neighborhood conference. Before we head home. Yeah. And so we're gonna get back to the dealers. We're gonna record a lot more interviews, we've been recording tons of interviews with dealers and industry partners, and OEMs, which is nice for a change. Yeah, we've spent a little time with OEMs here at NEMA, which is one of the benefits of a small conference that all the OEMs go to, they do pretty awesome.


Kyle Mountsier  11:10

Well, especially with dealers that are aspiring to be dealers, it's been really interesting to watch and banks, right, like bank to have the conversations across multiple areas and sectors of auto. And I think that happens that needs to happen more, it'll speed up innovation, as we talked about all the time.


Paul Daly  11:25

So we're off to that. We hope you have an amazing weekend. Crush your Saturday. It's a five Saturday mouth. Kyle, did you know that? We're gonna be excited about it all month long. So enjoy your weekend. Thanks for spending some time with us. And we'll see you soon.