No pun intended.
It's true of design, it's true of car dealerships, it's true of market incentives, it's true of advertising, it's true of metal bending. If you don't keep pouring bushel baskets of cash into the furnace, the fire will go out.
So, the point is that $2.7 billion.
It sounds like an enormous amount of money to most people. But it isn't.
It is only the beginning of a much larger amount of money. The going price for an electric-vehicle battery plant right now is between $1 billion (Mercedes-Benz in Alabama) and $5 billion (Tesla's Gigafactory). Nissan spent $1.6 billion on its factory in Tennessee a few years ago and recently deemed it inefficient for future plans and sold it to a supplier.
And that's just the battery plant.
There are metal stampings, crash tests, electric motors (you've got a leg up there, certainly), windshields, carbon-fiber parts (good luck finding suppliers for those), seats, electronics, autonomous drive software and the buildings of engineers who have to endlessly study all those things. And not just all those things for your first vehicle, but also for your second model and your third and the second generation of your first as markets change and government regulators keep rewriting the rule book.
Vehicle assembly. Distribution channels. Dealer relations. Labor relations. Consumer relations.
But here's the bigger concern. The competitive landscape is rapidly becoming a boxing ring when it comes to EVs. Two years ago, most of the world's automakers and the pundits who watch them were still publicly scoffing at the notion that consumers might ever drive electric cars.
Now look at it. Daimler is going for it. Volkswagen has plunged in. Toyota is suiting up. Nissan and Renault have announced big new plans. And now General Motors and Ford both have declared huge moves deeper into EVs.
And Sir James, if you have not had time to read my newspaper over the past 30 years, please take my word for it -- when GM starts spending money, it will absolutely take your breath away.
That's what you will be up against as you write checks. And more checks. And more checks.
There is a famous old story in the U.S. car business. A rich business tycoon named Henry Kaiser, who built the Hoover Dam and who built ships for the U.S. Navy during World War II, decided shortly after the war to enter the car business. To get it rolling, he told a press conference of reporters and interested parties that he intended to spend the then-whopping sum of $50 million.
According to old-timers who were there, someone in the back of the press conference quipped: "Give that man one white chip."
The implication being, of course, that the poker game of the car business was going to require many, many, many more $50 million poker chips to keep up with the big boys.
Mr. Kaiser failed.
I apologize for my impudence. I mean no disrespect. But as a great fan of your vacuum cleaners, I felt it would have been negligent of me to fail to warn you about the way things work here in the car business.