To defend Tesla a little bit in regards to sustainability, they did build the world’s largest solar farm to power the gigafactory (https://www.theverge.com/2017/1/11/14231952/tesla-gigafactory-solar-rooftop-70-megawatt). I would also say that their entire mission is to make the world more sustainable and less reliant on fossil fuels. Given this, I’m a little worried about the cost involved in recycling lithium-ion batteries and more generally any measure that would substantially increase Tesla’s costs. Tesla is already burning through cash and I’m not sure they can do everything perfectly right now or they may go bankrupt. Since their overall mission is so important, I’d rather have them be successful with their products, even if there are a few ways they could improve the sustainability of their process.
That being said, I am a little surprised that they would not have done more about the impact of lithium-ion batteries. I wonder if this is something they overlooked or whether they decided to prioritize other things. If there is a cost-effective way to minimize the impact of lithium-ion batteries, I would definitely support it.
I found the example of the Canadian diamond mine very compelling as it clearly shows the impact of climate change. Climate change forced the closure of the road, which necessitated flying in fuel (instead of driving it in), which is more expensive. I think if more people heard about real examples like this instead of theoretical examples or complex modeling, more people would care about the issue.
I am often skeptical of competitors sharing ideas with each other as I think you can lose a source of competitive advantage. However, in this case, I support forming a working group to discuss ways to address the impacts of climate change. The main reason is that this issue affects so many people and companies, and it is of interest to governments, NGOs, and others throughout the world. It is unlikely that one company could address the issue by itself. What is needed is the appropriate experts from all stakeholders engaging in productive discussion and coming up with solutions that work best for all parties and the planet.
I also found it useful to put myself in the shoes of Rio Tinto’s CEO. Would I really want to celebrate coming up with a solution to climate change that no one else could use? My company might do better financially but if the whole world can’t take advantage of my solution, is it really a cause for celebration?
If I were in Ghosn’s shoes, I would be worried. As you point out, there are numerous potential negative consequences of Brexit on Nissan and it seems fairly likely that Nissan’s cost structure will be impacted significantly.
The good news with Brexit is that it did not happen immediately – companies have a few years to plan before it goes into effect. That being said, Ghosn should keep lead times into account. In order to stand up a new factory (or find enough existing facilities with excess capacity), Nissan will need a significant amount of time. As a result, I think Nissan should be even more aggressive than it has been so far and explore options in Asia too, where there is likely a lower cost structure.
I really like the idea to explore alternatives publicly. This will ensure that Nissan is prepared if things go awry and it will force the British government to take action to stop Nissan from leaving the country. After all, this factory likely employs many people and if jobs start disappearing, British politicians will find themselves in big trouble.
To your question, I would say that Americans tend to think of their local communities first and then their country second. So, if BMW did close their Spartanburg plant, it would affect people in that town significantly and they would be quite resentful. The rest of America might care for a day but then they would forget about it. The only way you can get them to care is to get them to think about what would happen if their hometown suffered the same fate. The problem with globalization is that it is much harder to prove its efficacy: people notice when a plant closes but they may not notice that the price of goods they buy is less than it otherwise would be because of globalization.
Another item we need to consider is that these plants are enormous investments. That makes it extremely difficult for the auto manufacturers to walk away from them as they’d be sacrificing a ton of money. It also makes these companies think long and hard about where they want to invest. Even if Trump doesn’t end up instituting a border adjustment tax, his rhetoric alone creates a lot of uncertainty and makes companies rethink their plans.
Finally, I would add that even with a 35% tariff, it could still make sense to produce in Mexico. Labor costs in Mexico are estimated at $8-$10/hour compared to over $50/hour in the U.S., an enormous difference. (https://www.reuters.com/article/autos-uaw-mexico/corrected-u-s-autoworkers-face-threat-as-car-makers-drawn-to-mexico-idUSL2N0WR1KX20150326)
Generally speaking, I think the healthcare field is ripe for disruption, including digitalization. I often groan in frustration when my doctor’s office tells me that a document can only be sent via fax, for example.
The only concern I have with telemedicine is privacy. I am worried that a teenager might want to have a private conversation about a sensitive issue with a doctor, and a family member or a classmate may overhear what is being said.
If that issue can be resolved, then I fully support telemedicine, including in this context of sexual health. Access is a big problem in health care and this will make it easier for most people to speak with a doctor. In addition, a lot of people don’t get their annual physicals because they claim they don’t have the time or that it is a hassle. Making it easier for patients and doctors to interact will lead to better outcomes.
To your first question, perhaps there is a way to use Big Data to make deliveries more proactive rather than reactive. It seems like DHL is using big data to figure out route planning once all orders have been placed. I believe that Amazon is using big data to predict what customers will order and shipping to local warehouses in advance of a local order, which takes this a step further.
I am also wondering how a company like DHL balances short-term and long-term investments in technology. For example, is it worth spending a lot of money now to optimize routes when drones may make the route optimization system obsolete? How do they determine how much money to invest in these technologies?
Finally, the crowdsourcing platform is interesting but I’m worried about what happens to customer service. Will these new delivery agents wear DHL uniforms? Will they know the proper way to interact with customers?