Good morning! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,167 words, 4.5 minutes.
And this weekend marks 41 years since the punk band Stiff Little Fingers released their debut "Inflammable Material," which provides today's intro tune...
GMC Hummer's grille and the Tesla cybertruck. Photos courtesy of General Motors and Tesla
Automakers are competing to make the buzziest, strongest, fastest electric truck that would fare well in a dystopian future — albeit one with a reliable grid and eco-conscious drivers.
Driving the news: Ok I'm being flip (it's Friday!), but yesterday brought news that GM is indeed reviving the gas-guzzling Hummer as a fully electric
and powerful "super truck" with seriously gaudy specs.
Where it stands: The announcement comes just two months after Tesla unveiled its powerful Cybertruck that's explicitly designed to look like something out of a science fiction movie.
Why it matters: A number of automakers hope a chunk of the huge pickup market can be electrified — and that consumers are interested in muscle and design, not just the environment, and will pay a premium.
The offerings in the pipeline include...
But, but, but: Plenty of the offerings will be aimed at a more mainstream market than the Cybertruck and Hummer.
The big picture: There's opportunity for automakers if electric pickups can catch on. Per the firm Edmunds, pickups were 14.4% of the consumer vehicle market last year, the highest level since 2005.
Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said it will be difficult to stand out in the emerging electric pickup market, which helps explain GM's strategy. In comments circulated to reporters, she says...
"GM is smart to use the Hummer name, which already has a lot of built-in equity compared to other brands."
"But it is pretty ironic that the nameplate of the biggest gas-guzzling beast that consumers rebelled against during the recession is now going to be resurrected as an EV."
Autotrader executive editor Brian Moody said in a statement: "GMC has firmly established themselves as a premium truck brand with workhorse capability so having Hummer fall under the GMC umbrella makes sense."
Lower crude prices is a consistent theme among other factors in the lower bottom lines of major oil companies, as seen by Q4 results posted this morning by ExxonMobil and Chevron.
Exxon reported a 5.2% drop in Q4 profit as as net income fell to $5.69 billion in the quarter ending Dec. 31. This compares with $6 billion the same period last year.
Chevron reported a Q4 loss of $6.61 billion in the quarter ending Dec. 31, mostly due to write-offs. This compares with a profit of $3.73 billion same period in 2018.
A bipartisan House duo is floating a new plan that's both a throwback idea and a sign of today's climate politics.
Driving the news: Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) want to require utilities to greatly cut carbon emissions by mid-century.
How it works: It would create a "clean energy standard" requiring an 80% cut in power sector emissions by 2050 while providing the industry all kinds of leeway to determine how to get there.
Why it matters: The plan says a lot about the state of climate politics. It signals the GOP shift away from rejecting or at least challenging consensus climate science.
But, but, but: It's far less aggressive than what senior Capitol Hill Democrats and the party's White House hopefuls are promoting.
The intrigue: It's a back-to-the-future moment. Ideas for a federal "clean energy standard" of some sort have been rattling around for a decade.
Markets: "Energy was the S&P 500’s worst-performing sector each of the past two years — and so far, 2020 isn’t looking any better. The group has dropped 8.3% this month, on pace for its worst January since 2008." (Wall Street Journal)
Climate: "The Church of England is investing £600 million ($780 million) in a new stock market index packed with companies that are aligned with the goals of the Paris climate agreement." (CNN Business)
Pipelines: "The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday supported the view of companies developing the $1 billion PennEast natural gas pipeline that they can use federal eminent domain to gain access to properties owned by New Jersey." (Reuters)
Batteries: "French oil giant Total and European automaker Opel will collaborate on electrical vehicle cell manufacturing, with a maximum potential capacity of 48 gigawatt-hours." (Greentech Media)
EPA chief of staff Ryan Jackson is leaving to become the SVP of government affairs at the National Mining Association, a trade group whose members include key coal producers, Bloomberg reports.
Where it stands: A spokesperson for the group tells Bloomberg that Jackson will focus solely on congressional work because his EPA position means he'll be restricted from lobbying the executive branch for five years.
The big picture: The move comes at a tough time for the coal industry, which is seeing its share of the U.S. power market continue to wane.