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Metal Miner

Metal Miner

MetalMiner is the largest metals-related media site in the US according to third party ranking sites. With a preemptive global perspective on the issues, trends,…

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Is BMW’s Seat Heater Subscription A Sign Of Things To Come?

  • BMW’s announcement that it would be launching a subscription service in some markets for the use of its heated seats was mocked by many.
  • The announcement, however, highlights a broader trend in car markets, cash flows are drying up and automakers need to find new ways to bring it back.
  • BMW is by no means the only company facing this problem, with Tesla considering “software subscriptions” for its cars.

Recently, the MetalMiner team shared a laugh over BMW’s announcement that it would introduce a “subscription service” in certain markets for the use of their cars’ heated seats. While some of us remain avid BMW aficionados, whether or not customers will pay for the right to warm their seat remains unclear.

Nevertheless, BMW and other car makers are starting to recognize the overall attractiveness of the subscription model. That is, it’s a huge help when it comes to cash flow. Even Tesla has intimated it would add “software subscriptions” to its cars. But while company representatives didn’t specify when this might happen, recent events suggest sooner might be better than later.

Just last week, the WSJ reported that Tesla’s free cash flow fell from $2.2b during Q1 to $621m in Q2. Shocking as this may be, it’s not due to some avant-garde Muskian business model. Like other car manufacturers, Tesla generates revenue when it delivers its vehicles to customers. Whatever is left over after the company pays its suppliers is profit.

When deliveries grow, cash flow increases. But when deliveries drop, so does the cash flow. Of course, every manufacturer recognizes revenue and generates cash flow a bit differently. Still, the Tesla example serves as a reminder that procurement also plays a strategic role in helping improve or maintain cash flow.

Procurement’s Cash Flow Levers

It’s important to remember that companies have multiple levers to mitigate slowing cash flow. The procurement department “owns” several of these levers and, therefore, must support the business accordingly. Some of these levers include:

  1. Adjusting Payment Terms – It’s perhaps the oldest trick in the book, but extending payment terms can help improve cash flow. Using various tools such as VenConnect can help suppliers with their accounts receivable while the buying organization extends terms.
  2. Negotiating Cost Downs as Commodity Prices Fall – MetalMiner has offered up two specific resources to help companies either reduce material costs now or reduce part/component spend.
  3. Avoiding Buying High Priced Inventory – Many companies fell into the trap of “panic buying” back in 2021 and early 2022. For metal spend, it is possible to never (or rarely) over buy. By correctly reading the short-term and long-term trends, buying organizations can identify when to buy for “just-in-case” requirements.
  4. Paying Close Attention to Changes in Demand – Working closely with sales to keep a constant grip on order books, demand shifts, and volumes gives the buying organization a clearer ‘picture of future demand’. In addition, sharing accurate demand forecasts with suppliers also helps ensure the company avoids “over-buying.” The latter, of course, can significantly impact cash flow.

By AG Metal Miner

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