By Paul Page
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The global shipping industry is looking for calmer sailing under a Biden administration. Shipowners across a range of sectors say their operations were roiled by the tariff-filled trade showdowns and sanctions by the White House over the past four years. The WSJ Logistics Report's Costas Paris writes in a Shipping Matters commentary that the persistent volatility unsettled many operators, even those that profited from the turbulence, like tanker operators that raked in high shipping rates early last year. Industry executives don't expect a fast resolution of trade differences between the U.S. and China under President Biden. But they hope the administration will work quietly to normalize trans-Pacific relations and that trans-Atlantic trade in products from consumer goods to industrial minerals moves at a steadier pace. Uncertainty may have kept a lid on orders at shipyards, some executives say, because operators in some sectors were uneasy over future demand.
Tesla Inc.'s production line for its new Semi truck remains in low gear even as the Silicon Valley icon boosts output of its signature electric passenger cars. Tesla still plans to deliver its first heavy-duty truck by the end of the year, but the WSJ Logistics Report's Jennifer Smith writes the company is coping with a shortfall in the specialized battery cells needed to power the rig. CEO Elon Musk told an earnings call this week that "scaling production is very hard," and Tesla's go-it-alone strategy on key technology components may make it even harder. The economics are also a factor. Mr. Musk says the Semi will require five times more battery cells than Tesla's passenger cars but the big rigs won't sell for five times the price of a car. Tesla has solved the technology challenge of electrifying trucks but now it appears the financial drag may be the tougher question.
General Motors Corp. is veering away from a supply chain built on fossil fuel. The auto maker set a 2035 target date for phasing out gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles globally, the WSJ's Mike Colias reports, making GM among the first major auto makers to put a timeline on transitioning to a fully electric lineup. The goal would mark a striking transition from GM's current business model, and set a transition period for the company to ramp up new alternative-fuel supply chains while existing production and distribution plans gradually wind down. Those moves would likely reach far beyond GM's own operations and accelerate electric-vehicle adoption well beyond what most industry forecasters expect. Only about 2.2 million fully electric vehicles were sold globally last year, accounting for 3% of all sales, and research firm LMC Automotive predicts electric vehicles will account for only 20% of global sales by 2032.
IN OTHER NEWS
The U.S. economy grew at a 4% annual pace in the fourth quarter on stronger consumer spending, inventory investment and exports. (WSJ)
The number of new jobless claims in the U.S. remained at historically high levels. (WSJ)
American Airlines Group Inc. lost $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter while cargo revenue rose 32% to $285 million. (WSJ)
Ford Motor Corp. will start building its iconic Mustang vehicles in China. (WSJ)
A liquid nitrogen leak at a northeast Georgia poultry plant killed six people. (WSJ)
Annual sales growth at McDonald's Corp. accelerated in the fourth quarter to 5.5%. (WSJ)
Drinks maker Diageo PLC's spirits sales in the U.S. rose 15% in the first half of the year. (WSJ)
The European Union will empower member states to block exports of coronavirus vaccines. (Financial Times)
Apple Inc. supplier Luxshare Precision Industry of China is investing $926 million in an iPhone supply business owned by rival Pegatron. (Nikkei Asian Review)
Walmart Inc. s adding two e-commerce fulfillment centers outside Dallas. (Dallas Morning News)
Costco Wholesale Corp. plans to build a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center south of Tacoma, Wash., for online fulfillment. (Daily Chronicle)
Upscale retailer Neiman Marcus will spend $85 million to improve its digital commerce efforts. (Business of Fashion)
A survey by Coresight Research and Blue Yonder suggests many retailers have turned to "nearshoring" to gain more control of their supply chains. (Sourcing Journal)
Strict customs checks of inbound frozen fish have led to a huge pileup of cargoes at China's Dalian port. (Bloomberg)
Italy's Fincantieri SpA and France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique called off talks aimed at merging the shipyards. (Lloyd's List)
Taiwan's Evergreen Marine Corp. is buying up to 20 mid-sized container ships in orders with four shipyards. (TradeWinds)
Norfolk Southern Corp.'s fourth-quarter net profit edged up 1% to $671 million despite a 4% drop in revenue. (Railway Age)
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. reduced its operating ratio to a company record 53.9%. (Progressive Railroading)
More than 150 passenger planes were reconfigured to handle freight last year. (Air Cargo News)
Atlanta-based JAS Worldwide is buying the Tigers freight forwarding subsidiary of France's Geopost.. (The Loadstar)
RGL Logistics bought a property with a 450,000-square-foot distribution center in Appleton, Wis. (Appleton Post-Crescent)
Paul Page is editor of WSJ Logistics Report. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report team: @PaulPage, @jensmithWSJ and @CostasParis. Follow the WSJ Logistics Report on Twitter at @WSJLogistics.
Write to Paul Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires