Autonomous, shared and electrified. Three buzzwords that once heralded the future of transportation. But, seemingly overnight, new mobility initiatives have moved into the crosshairs of an industry whose profits and forecasts have been blown up by the coronavirus pandemic.
Advanced technologies, such as those companies were promoting at CES less than four months ago, promise a future of cleaner air, safer roads and an all-around better consumer experience. But they cost billions to develop, and companies in a sudden, deep contraction must prioritize survival and focus on restarting profitable core businesses.
The headwinds are evident: Ford Motor Co. postponing its autonomous vehicle commercial services until 2022; General Motors shuttering its Maven car-sharing service.
“Some of the investment is definitely going to get delayed just because of the amount of capital [automakers and suppliers] have,” said Akshay Singh, automotive principal at consulting company PwC.
Nonetheless, some say these companies will continue to slowly wade into new technologies seen as crucial to the future of the industry, and that their interest will steadily grow in the hopes of boosting profits and positioning themselves for success post-COVID-19. Moreover, the pauses by Ford and GM create opportunities for those such as Tesla that can keep making advances.
Even before the pandemic, some companies were unsure of the viability of certain mobility ventures, and the crisis could give them the kick they needed to change course.
“I see COVID as just emphasizing what was already happening,” said Howard Abbey, autonomous car specialist for automotive technology research company SBD Automotive in Ann Arbor, Mich. “My advice would be remember: Long-term decisions are often hard in the short term.”
Singh said it’s still important for automakers and suppliers to make strategic decisions for their future product portfolios. But rather than looking decades ahead, this could mean they continue to invest in technologies that are well on their way, such as advanced driver-assistance systems, known as ADAS, and lower-level autonomous features.
Technologies that enable higher levels of autonomy could be shelved because they do not provide an immediate return on investment, parts makers said in an IHS survey of 140 suppliers and automakers in North America, Europe and Asia.
According to the survey, conducted March 30 to April 9, advanced research projects are expected to be impacted more than general product-development activities this year and next.
“For a lot of the automakers that are still developing their automated driving systems, even a Level 2-plus or Level 3, those launches that are a little bit further out … that’s where we might see a little bit more flexibility and probably slower deployment as a result,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal analyst of autonomous driving for the automotive team at IHS Markit. “Less wide deployment, maybe more targeted deployment in terms of packaging, trims, models and nameplates.”
SAE International has outlined six levels of automation — ranging from 0, meaning no automated controls, to 5, for full autonomy.
“Where we’re right to question the timeline of the return on the investment, the deployment of the technologies, is the higher levels of automation,” Carlson said. “The investment and timeline for development and return on that investment in these kinds of technologies is relatively long.”
Some companies are well positioned to continue development efforts and wait for the return on investment, while others are going to be scrambling.
“If you cancel all of your investments and some of your projects at this point around Level 4, mobility-as-a-service,” Carlson added, “interrupting the development and the investment now might really set you back in the long term.”
Even during the crisis, developers of mobility technologies still see their role as critical.
Though autonomous passenger vehicles have always been further down the product pipeline, and interest in self-driving shuttles may wane given concerns over cleanliness, investment in electrified powertrains, autonomous delivery bots and driver-assist-enabling sensors, for example, could continue after the crisis.
Sunny Lee, COO of StradVision, the 6-year-old supplier of advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous vehicle software, remains optimistic.
“The areas that we are working on — ADAS and autonomous driving — are still pretty much in R&D phase. I don’t see reasons why the key stakeholders will delay their investments unless they have significant capital and cash problems,” Lee told Automotive News in March. “I believe our customers will continue to invest in autonomous driving technology.”
Yakov Shaharabani, CEO of Israeli startup Adasky, which develops thermal-imaging camera technology for use in driver-assist systems and AVs, also said his company is moving toward production as planned.
“Although we are witnessing the slowdown with several OEMs, we don’t yet see the impact. I’m sure there will be a short-term impact, but there is a debate on what will happen to the autonomous initiative, if it will accelerate, if it will slow down,” Shaharabani said.
“And I don’t know. We are ready for any situation, and I think Adasky is in a really good position. We will have to see how long it will take.”
German software supplier Elektrobit says many of its customers remain interested in software development, so it hasn’t seen a big slowdown. However, the company does expect to see automakers delaying some software-related programs.
“What we see is, for the sake of preserving cash, of course there is a focus on shifting some of the software programs that are not as tightly linked to near-term production,” said Artur Seidel, vice president, Americas at Elektrobit.
“I do think, though, that companies will look at their supply chains, and they will also look at how solid they are, and of course, there is an ongoing discussion about the software in the car,” Seidel added.
“Software work absolutely continues from what I can see.”
Even so, AV development is sure to be hit harder than EV projects, according to SBD’s Abbey. He said there is nothing to signal a drop-off in EV investment or strategy. “The EV market is relatively protected short term.”
Ford has canceled its plan to jointly develop an electric vehicle for the Lincoln brand with EV startup Rivian, but the brand still plans to have its own EV eventually.
Industrywide, more than 100 EV models are in the pipeline over the next three years, and in a study released just before the virus struck, Boston Consulting Group estimated automaker commitment to EV development at $300 billion.
There are far more concerns, including health and safety questions, surrounding shared-transportation initiatives such as autonomous shuttles or robotaxi fleets.
“In a post-COVID world where consumers are going to have very different thoughts about sharing anything or touching surfaces, it’s going to be very difficult to make the business case for Level 5,” said Calum MacRae, director of automotive product development at market intelligence company GlobalData.
That could mean that “AV could be the guy standing out in the cold,” said Brandon Boyle, senior partner in consultancy Roland Berger’s automotive competence center.
But Boyle added: “Getting to Level 4, Level 5 AV is more of a journey than a step change. Even though people are still investing a lot, I don’t think it’s going to waste.
“It continues to advance the different safety and functionality that we’re seeing in vehicles today. I think we’re going to continue on that path.”
That path is a long one, even in an industry with long product cycles. Optimists say a sharp drop in demand doesn’t have to derail long-term strategies, even if it takes a year or more to make a reliable vaccine for the virus.
“You’ve got to think two to three years out, and most people think COVID isn’t going to be a long-term thing, it’s going to be a short-term disruption,” Abbey said.
Legault won't rule out another investment in Bombardier – Montreal Gazette
QUEBEC — Premier François Legault has not ruled out another government bailout of struggling Bombardier Inc., which announced Friday it plans to eliminate 2,500 jobs because a slump in demand for business jets.
But Legault said if his government did proceed, it would not make the same “mistakes” of the former Liberal government, which chose to invest in the C-Series program and not Bombardier in general.
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He said he also would obtain guarantees on the preservation of jobs, the head office and make sure the company’s executives not pay themselves fat salaries and bonuses.
The former Liberal government of Philippe Couillard invested $1.3 billion in Bombardier’s C-series program, which was later sold to Airbus. Quebec still holds its shares in the firm, which were valued at $700 million in the last provincial budget.
Legault Friday seemed to suggest in his remarks that the money is lost.
Provincial investment to boost rural, remote access to broadband and cellular – Sudbury.com
The province has announced a $150-million investment to improve broadband and cellular service in rural, remote and underserved areas of Ontario.
Under the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, applicants – telecom companies, municipal governments, First Nation communities, and non-profits – can submit proposals for broadband and cell expansion through the province.
Ontario will fund a portion of each approved project.
“By doing their part and staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the people of Ontario have demonstrated the need to be connected to learn, work, and run their businesses,” Laurie Scott, minister of infrastructure, said in a June 3 news release.
“It appears that functioning remotely will continue to be a regular way of life for many in this new environment, and fast reliable Internet will be critical. The ICON program is an important step towards bridging the digital divide in Ontario.”
According to the Canadian Radio-televition and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), as many as 12 per cent of Ontario households – mostly in rural, remote or Northern areas – are underserved or unserved.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that connectivity is not a luxury – it’s a social, cultural and economic lifeline,” Parry Sound Mayor Jamie McGarvey, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), said in the release.
“We welcome the launch of this broadband and cellular infrastructure program. We look forward to seeing it implemented as quickly as possible to connect homes and businesses that lack adequate service.
“Municipal governments will continue to work with other governments and stakeholders to find solutions that will deliver affordable, reliable access to broadband across Ontario.”
The ICON program is part of Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan, a $315-million government initiative.
Cardinal Debt Purchased by Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund From Sprott – GlobeNewswire
TORONTO, June 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Cardinal Resources Limited (ASX / TSX : CDV) (“Cardinal” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce that the senior secured credit facility (as amended in February 2020 and March 2020) (“Facility”) has been assigned from Sprott Private Resource Lending (Collector), L.P. (“Sprott”) to the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund (“GIIF”), a Ghana Government owned infrastructure investment vehicle. The Company has been informed that completion of the acquisition by GIIF occurred on 4 June 2020.
As a result of the acquisition, Cardinal’s senior debt facility provider is now GIIF.
The balance of the Facility is approximately US$23.8 million (following a US$0.4 million repayment of the debt to Sprott prior to the transaction) and Cardinal has also been provided with further funding (from previously restricted cash) totaling an additional US$3.1 million which now forms part of Cardinal’s working capital. As part of the transaction, Cardinal has agreed to amend and restate the Facility under Ghanaian law.
Solomon Asamoah, CEO of the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund stated:
“As one of Africa’s largest and most significant new gold discoveries, we at GIIF are very pleased to be able to enter into this very important transaction which ensures increased Ghanaian participation, through our capacity as a Sovereign owned fund.
“As stated many times by our President, H.E. Nana Akufo Addo, we believe it is very important that there is increased paid participation in all sectors of the domestic economy by Ghanaians, including the mining sector. GIIF is looking to play an important role by supporting both feeder and spin-off industries made possible by the increased economic activity and accompanying new infrastructure arising from the mining operation. The development of this large-scale gold mine is very important to Ghana as it will assist in bringing much needed jobs to the Upper East Region of Northern Ghana.”
Archie Koimtsidis, CEO and Managing Director of Cardinal stated:
“On behalf of the Board of Cardinal Resources, we would like to thank GIIF and their entire team. The Company is very impressed with the GIIF organisation, especially the range of Ghanaian infrastructure projects that the organisation has managed to complete in such a short timeframe. It has been a pleasure working with GIIF since Q4 – 2019 to reach this point and we are very pleased that the Board of GIIF has approved this initial investment with its acquisition of the entire Sprott debt facility.
“This investment clearly demonstrates to all investors that Ghana is “Open for Business” as per The President, H.E. Nana Akufo Addo’s speech at the 2019 Mining Indaba Conference in Cape Town, where he eloquently articulated the importance of Ghanaian paid financial participation into Ghanaian projects for the benefit of all its citizens long into the future.
“Cardinal is confident that GIIF will be a valuable stakeholder in the development of its 5.1* Moz Gold Mine in the Upper East Region of Ghana, West Africa and we would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Sprott Lending team for the sale of the debt facility to GIIF.”
*The Namdini Project has a published gold Ore Reserve of 5.1 Moz (138.6 Mt @ 1.13 g/t Au; 0.5 g/t cut-off), inclusive of 0.4 Moz Proved (7.4 Mt @ 1.31 g/t Au; 0.5 g/t cut-off) and 4.7 Moz Probable (131.2 Mt @ 1.12 g/t Au; 0.5 g/t cut-off).
A Feasibility Study released in Q4 -2019 demonstrated that Cardinal’s flagship Namdini Gold Project in Ghana’s Northern District has the potential to be a low capital cost, high-margin development opportunity at a US$1,350 per ounce gold price.
The material commercial terms of the Facility (below) remain unchanged or are otherwise more favourable for Cardinal, as set out below:
- 24-month repayment term (the Sprott arrangements had a maturity date of 1 March 2021)
- Interest rate of 7.75% + the greater of 3 months LIBOR or 1% per annum
- Early repayment flexibility is continued and as per the arrangements with Sprott, a 5% redemption premium applies to all future repayments of the Facility
- Secured against the assets of Cardinal and its wholly owned subsidiaries in Ghana
- Upon a change of control of Cardinal, GIIF may require repayment of the Facility (under the prior Sprott arrangements, immediate repayment was required in such circumstances)
Please refer to the Company’s announcements of 16 March 2020 and 30 March 2020 in relation to the approach from Nord Gold.
The Company continues to work with the Special Purpose Committee and its advisors, Maxit Capital LP (Nth America), Hartleys Limited (Australia), BMO Capital Markets and Cannacord Genuity, to review all strategic alternatives.
Cardinal Resources Limited (ASX/TSX: CDV) is a West African gold‐focused exploration and development Company that holds interests in tenements within Ghana, West Africa.
The Company is focused on the development of the Namdini Gold Project and released its Feasibility Study on 28 October 2019.
The Company announced completion of the Feasibility Study (FS), which was released 28 October 2019. The technical report on the FS, prepared in accordance with NI 43‐101 of the Canadian Securities Administrators, was issued on SEDAR at www.sedar.com on 28 November 2019.
Cardinal confirms that it is not aware of any new information or data that materially affects the information included in its announcement of the Ore Reserve of 15 October 2019, and included in the Company’s completed Feasibility dated 28 October 2019. All material assumptions and technical parameters underpinning this estimate continue to apply and have not materially changed.
Authorised for release by the Board of Cardinal Resources Limited.
|For further information contact:|
|Archie Koimtsidis||Alec Rowlands|
|CEO / MD||IR / Corp Dev|
|Cardinal Resources Limited||Cardinal Resources Limited|
|P: +61 8 6558 0573||P: +1 647 256 1922|
Competent / Qualified Person Statement
The scientific and technical information in this announcement that relates to Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves at the Namdini Gold Project has been reviewed and approved by Mr. Richard Bray, a Registered Professional Geologist with the Australian Institute of Geoscientists and Mr. Ekow Taylor, a Chartered Professional Geologist with the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. Mr. Bray and Mr. Taylor have more than five years’ experience relevant to the styles of mineralisation and type of deposits under consideration and to the activity which is being undertaken to qualify as a Competent Person, as defined in the 2012 Edition of the “Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves” and as a Qualified Person for the purposes of NI43‐101. Mr. Bray and Mr. Taylor are full‐time employees of Cardinal and hold equity securities in the Company.
For further information regarding the Namdini Gold Project please see Feasibility Study (FS) for the Namdini Gold Project, titled “Namdini Gold Project Feasibility Study 43-101 Report” by David Gordon, FAusIMM, Daryl Evans, FAusIMM, Nicolas Johnson, MAIG MPRm and Glenn Turnbull, FIMMM, MAusIMM, which was released on October 28, 2019. The technical report on the Feasibility Study, pursuant to NI 43-101 of the Canadian Securities Administrators, was issued on SEDAR at www.sedar.com” www.sedar.com on November 28, 2019.
This ASX / TSX press release has been prepared by Cardinal Resources Limited (ABN: 56 147 325 620) (“Cardinal” or “the Company”). Neither the ASX or the TSX, nor their regulation service providers accept responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this press release.
This press release contains summary information about Cardinal, its subsidiaries and their activities, which is current as at the date of this press release. The information in this press release is of a general nature and does not purport to be complete nor does it contain all the information, which a prospective investor may require in evaluating a possible investment in Cardinal.
By its very nature exploration for minerals is a high‐risk business and is not suitable for certain investors. Cardinal’s securities are speculative. Potential investors should consult their stockbroker or financial advisor. There are a number of risks, both specific to Cardinal and of a general nature which may affect the future operating and financial performance of Cardinal and the value of an investment in Cardinal including but not limited to economic conditions, stock market fluctuations, gold price movements, regional infrastructure constraints, timing of approvals from relevant authorities, regulatory risks, operational risks and reliance on key personnel and foreign currency fluctuations.
Except for statutory liability which cannot be excluded and subject to applicable law, each of Cardinal’s officers, employees and advisors expressly disclaim any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the material contained in this press release and excludes all liability whatsoever (including in negligence) for any loss or damage which may be suffered by any person as a consequence of any information in this Announcement or any error or omission here from. Except as required by applicable law, the Company is under no obligation to update any person regarding any inaccuracy, omission or change in information in this press release or any other information made available to a person nor any obligation to furnish the person with any further information. Recipients of this press release should make their own independent assessment and determination as to the Company’s prospects, its business, assets and liabilities as well as the matters covered in this press release.
Certain statements contained in this press release, including information as to the future financial or operating performance of Cardinal and its projects may also include statements which are ‘forward‐looking statements’ that may include, amongst other things, statements regarding targets, anticipated timing of the feasibility study (FS) on the Namdini project, estimates and assumptions in respect of mineral resources and anticipated grades and recovery rates, production and prices, recovery costs and results, capital expenditures and are or may be based on assumptions and estimates related to future technical, economic, market, political, social and other conditions. These ‘forward – looking statements’ are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by Cardinal, are inherently subject to significant technical, business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties and contingencies and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from estimated or anticipated events or results reflected in such forward‐looking statements.
Cardinal disclaims any intent or obligation to update publicly or release any revisions to any forward‐looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, circumstances or results or otherwise after today’s date or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events, other than required by the Corporations Act and ASX and TSX Listing Rules. The words ‘believe’, ‘expect’, ‘anticipate’, ‘indicate’, ‘contemplate’, ‘target’, ‘plan’, ‘intends’, ‘continue’, ‘budget’, ‘estimate’, ‘may’, ‘will’, ‘schedule’ and similar expressions identify forward‐looking statements.
All forward‐looking statements made in this press release are qualified by the foregoing cautionary statements. Investors are cautioned that forward‐looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and accordingly investors are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward‐looking statements due to the inherent uncertainty therein.
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