Tesla is "very close" to achieving Level 5 autonomous driving technology, CEO Elon Musk said Thursday, referring to the capability to navigate roads without any driver input. "I'm extremely confident that Level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think will happen very quickly," Musk said in remarks made via a video message at the opening of Shanghai's annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference. "I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for Level 5 autonomy complete this year."
Automakers and tech companies including Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc. are investing billions in the autonomous driving industry. However, industry insiders have said it would take time for the technology to get ready and public to trust autonomous vehicles fully.
The California-based automaker currently builds cars with an Autopilot driver-assistance system, which has been linked to a number of crashes, some fatal. Tesla is also developing new heat-projection or cooling systems to enable more advanced computers in cars, Musk said.
Industry data showed Tesla sold nearly 15,000 China-made Model 3 sedans last month.
Tesla has become the highest-valued automaker as its shares surged to record highs and its market capitalization overtook that of former front-runner Toyota.
Ford Motor Co. may need to shut down factories in the U.S. as soon as next week if the company doesn't receive its engines built at the Chihuahua Engine Plant, Reuters reported from Mexico City on Thursday. The situation came to light late Wednesday during a discussion between U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau and a "senior Ford executive" concerned about a production slowdown caused by officials in Mexico who have "limited capacity to 50%" due to the coronavirus, Reuters reported.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Japan's Honda Motor Co. will buy a 1 percent stake in Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology and the two will jointly develop EV batteries, the companies said Friday.
The move comes at a time when auto manufacturers and EV battery makers are joining forces in pursuit of an electric future. CATL said last year it would develop batteries with Honda and also supply batteries to Tesla , Toyota and Volkswagen. Honda and CATL said in a statement they would develop battery technologies and research a battery recycling business. Honda will launch its first EV with CATL's battery in China in 2022 and will expand the partnership with a stable EV battery supply globally.
Honda has struck a number of partnerships to make electric cars, including a joint venture with China's GAC under which the Japanese automaker began selling its first all-battery EV, the Everus VE-1 crossover, in China last year.
It has also tied up with Hitachi Ltd.'s auto parts subsidiary to develop, produce and sell motors to be used in hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric cars. For the North American market, Honda has partnered with General Motors to develop two new EVs. The two companies are also working to develop hydrogen fuel cell vehicle technology.
CATL is building a battery plant in Germany and is considering expanding to North America. It has an office in Yokohama near Tokyo.
Most car makers’ U.S. sales collapsed Q2. VW brand sales were down 29%; Nissan was down 50%; Toyota 36%. Against this backdrop of general decline, Mazda held its own, down only 9.6% for the first half of the year. And our smallish, long-of-tooth CX-9 was one of a handful of models, car or truck, to sell more at the height of the first wave than in Q2/2019. In June, Mazda sales continued to defy corona gravity, up 11%, year over; meanwhile, the CX-9 had its best June ever—2,727 units sold, a jump of nearly 50%. No one knows why.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The week ending July 5 marked the fifth straight that there were at least 100,000 auction sales of vehicles up to 8 years old, according to the latest Used Market Update from J.D. Power. Specifically, the company estimated the weekly auction sales total at 100,000 units, which is down from 110,000 the week before. However, J.D. Power anticipates auction volume will climb this week (ending July 12) and said the prior dip was driven by the leadup to the Independence Day Weekend. The analysis also indicated that the 100,000 auction sales the week ending July 5 were a 17% hike over pre-pandemic projections.
Source: Auto Remarketing
It was sold as an all-or-nothing moonshot into space, the boldest pay package in corporate history. Now, with Tesla Inc.’s stock on a seemingly unstoppable rise, Elon Musk is poised to collect the second portion of his pay award, worth $2.4 billion. Barring a sudden drop in the electric-car maker’s shares, the final performance threshold tied to market value should be met in a matter of days. That would unlock 1.69 million stock options, yielding Musk the 10-figure sum if he were to exercise and immediately sell the shares. The stock rose for most of Monday's session, but pared the gains later in the day and closed down 3 percent to $1,497.
The remarkable payout follows an equally remarkable ride for Tesla, whose shares have more than quadrupled this year and ballooned Musk’s net worth to $70.5 billion, making him the seventh-richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The automaker is currently worth more than Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen Group and Hyundai Motor Co. combined.
The rally has left Wall Street analysts struggling to make sense of the firm’s valuation, which topped $300 billion on Monday. Some have focused on the company’s work to improve batteries or the prospect that it may soon start selling cars in India.
Tesla is scheduled to release second-quarter results July 22. If it reports a profit, it would be the fourth consecutive such quarter -- a milestone needed to be considered for inclusion in the S&P 500 Index.
Musk, 49, has never accepted a salary, with his pay instead consisting of option awards that he can collect only if the California-based company meets ambitious targets. The most recent iteration, unveiled in early 2018, was the largest-ever corporate pay deal struck between a company’s board and its CEO. It includes 20.3 million options, split into 12 segments, that could yield Musk more than $50 billion if all goals are met, according to Tesla’s estimates.
Getting all of it, however, is far from certain. Each tranche is tied to specific targets for revenue, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, as well as Tesla’s average trailing market capitalization over 30 days and six months. The first market-value threshold was set at $100 billion, with the others following in $50 billion increments. Tesla reached its first milestones for sales and Ebitda -- $20 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively -- last year. And its 30-day market value average has been well above the $150 billion threshold for some time. Once the six-month average exceeds that level, Musk will claim the 1.69 million options and can exercise them at will.
Musk said on Twitter last week that he could cash in on some of his stock eventually to further the mission of his other most high-profile company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp.
Attempting to Meet Production Demand at Key Truck Plants
General Motors Co. has a problem with absenteeism at its vital truck plants just when it needs every single body it can get on the assembly line. GM is working feverishly to replenish supplies of the in-demand pickups and full-sized SUVs after idling its U.S. factories from late-March through mid-May amid the coronavirus pandemic. Take Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana where GM builds its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size light-duty pickups. The plant has about 4,100 hourly workers and nearly 1,000 of them are off for various reasons — as many as 200 workers are off for COVID-19 related reasons.
Fisker Inc. said it is in talks with Volkswagen Group to use key vehicle parts, including a battery, in an electric SUV scheduled to begin production in 2022. The startup said in an investor presentation filed Monday with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission that it plans to use VW Groups 's modular electric drive matrix, or MEB, platform to cut costs and halve development time for its debut model, the Ocean SUV.
It also will adopt that automaker's battery technology to power the SUV. "Fisker is negotiating with VW to secure a source of battery supply which would provide Fisker with the benefit of one of the world's largest battery-procurement supply contracts," the company said.
Representatives for VW in the U.S. did not have an immediate comment. Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker said in an interview his company is in talks with several automakers for parts-supply contracts but did not mention VW by name. "We don't need to make our own electric air conditioning, steering rack, even the platform itself," he said.
Fisker is planning to merge with an Apollo Global Management-sponsored special purpose company amid a surge in electric-vehicle shares. The boards of Fisker and Apollo-backed Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp. have unanimously approved the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter, according to a Monday statement. Spartan Energy shares fell 4.6 percent to close at $14.37 on Tuesday in New York.
Automakers are back to building cars and trucks at full speed — at least for now. But as coronavirus cases rise across much of the country, it may become difficult for the companies to keep at it. This week, General Motors will lay off a third shift of workers — about 1,250 people — at its truck plant in Wentzville, Mo., where absenteeism has been rising because workers are concerned about the spread of the virus. Union workers at a G.M. plant in Texas, where hospitals have been inundated, have called on the company to shut down their factory.
Source: The New York Times
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and PSA Group plan to call their combined company Stellantis upon completing a trans-Atlantic merger aimed at creating one of the world’s largest auto companies. The new name, revealed Wednesday, has its roots in the Latin word “stello,” meaning “to brighten with stars,” the companies said, and is cast in a font reminiscent of the futuristic style used by Tesla Inc. in its corporate logo. Stellantis will replace the corporate names for both companies, although the Fiat and Chrysler badges will live for the individual brands.
Nissan Motor Co is planning a 30% year-on-year cut in global vehicle production through December as falling demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic complicates its turnaround efforts, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Japan’s No. 2 automaker plans to produce around 2.6 million vehicles between April and December, down from 3.7 million during the same period last year, the sources said. Nissan made 4.6 million cars in the financial year ended March.
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