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Tuesday Ticker: February 22, 2022

Toronto, Ontario ⁠— This week, Magna feels the effects of the Ambassador Bridge closure on top of an already difficult start to the year; Volkswagen and Huawei reportedly eye a partnership in autonomous driving tech and both Renault and Rivian vow never to dip their toes into the ocean.

Ambassador effects

Magna International is feeling the effects of the Ambassador Bridge blockades, according to CEO Swamy Kotagiri, who said some customers have had to idle or adjust production schedules as a result.

The Ambassador Bridge closure has cost the automotive industry anywhere from $300 million to $600, according to various sources.

Magna’s shares have dropped more than five percent since the start of February⁠—on top of dropping nearly ten percent year-to-date.

The company also reported its Q4 2021 results on Feb. 11, sharing that its fourth-quarter profit and sales fell compared with Q4 2020. 

As of Friday’s close, shares of Magna were trading at $98.71. 

Partners in autonomy

Volkswagen is reportedly in talks to acquire Huawei’s autonomous driving unit, Germany’s Manager Magazin reported via inside sources Thursday

Leaders in both groups have been negotiating the deal for several months, said the report, which also claimed the deal involves technology systems Volkswagen is not proficient in.

Huawei’s autonomous unit lies within the telecom equipment and smartphone giant’s “smart vehicle solution” business unit, which started in 2019. The founding of the unit prompted discussions that perhaps the company sought to dabble in developing its own vehicles, though it has repeatedly denied claims and instead said it was to be the “Bosch of China”—a components supplier for automakers.   

The company showcased its automated driving solutions last year, with preinstalled technology in a mass-produced sedan from Arcfox, a new EV brand under Chinese carmaker BAIC. Huawei said it supplied the vehicle’s chipset and in-car operating systems. It also claimed the model, dubbed Alpha S, has achieved Level 4 autonomy⁠—meaning the car will not require human intervention in most scenarios.   

Volkswagen’s ventures in the self-driving space include a partnership with Pittsburgh-based startup Argo AI, which is also backed by Ford. The duo unveiled the fruits of their efforts last September⁠—a self-driving electric van. 

As of 2020, China was Volkswagen’s biggest market, so it only makes sense the automaker would seek a similar tech partner there. 

Both Volkswagen China and Huawei have yet to comment on the reports. 

Marine metals

Rivian and French carmaker Renault are not only backing a moratorium on deep-sea mining but also excluding seabed metals from their supply chains, nixing a potential avenue to capitalize on EV demand through the use of materials like cobalt, nick and manganese.

Renault was the first to back the moratorium, later joined by American automaker Rivian, which said in an email to Reuters it “shares the Deep Sea Conservation Coalitions’s goal of protecting our oceans.”

French President Emmanuel Macron has said before that deep seabed exploration was a priority as a way to gain access to rare metals and better understand marine ecosystems. Critics, however, argue that such exploration could wipe out undiscovered species on the seabed. 

Macron did stop short of endorsing seabed mining altogether. 

“I can already hear the debate coming⁠—I am not talking about exploitation for the moment, I am talking about exploration,” he said in a speed last October. 

No mining of the seabed is allowed until global regulations are finalized by the U.N. International Seabed Authority. Companies that hold exploration licenses on the seabed, on the other hand, hope to eventually sell seabed metals to carmakers.

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