Future cars Bottas wins dramatic Austrian opener

Future cars

(Reuters) – Formula One came back with a bang on Sunday as Finland’s Valtteri Bottas won a dramatic Austrian season-opener for champions Mercedes in a race with only 11 finishers and no spectators.

Future cars

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 5, 2020 Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas celebrates after winning the race, as F1 resumes following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Mark Thompson/Pool via REUTERS

Charles Leclerc finished a surprise second for struggling Ferrari with McLaren’s Lando Norris celebrating his first F1 podium after a time penalty dropped Mercedes’ six-times World champion Lewis Hamilton to fourth.

“I managed to keep it together and control the race from my side and it’s a good start to the season,” said Bottas, who started on pole position and had to keep his cool through three safety car periods.

Norris, at 20 the youngest driver in the race and now the youngest Briton to stand on an F1 podium, also claimed a bonus point for fastest lap.

The race, on a sunny afternoon at the scenic Red Bull Ring was behind closed doors — a Formula One first — due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had put the season on hold since March.

The drivers gathered on the grid before the start in a show of unity against racism, with Hamilton and 13 others taking a knee in solidarity.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz made it a double points haul for McLaren in fifth, with Sergio Perez sixth for Racing Point and Pierre Gasly seventh for AlphaTauri.

Esteban Ocon, who last raced in 2018, took eighth for Renault on his return while Antonio Giovinazzi bagged ninth for Alfa Romeo and Sebastian Vettel, who had another nightmare, completed the top 10 for Ferrari.

Canadian Nicholas Latifi was the last car running with 11th for Williams.

There was drama even before the race when stewards performed a U-turn after a Red Bull challenge and dropped Hamilton from the front row to fifth on the grid for a qualifying error.

That also promoted Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to the front row alongside Bottas.

Any hopes the Dutchman had of completing a hat-trick of Austrian wins disappeared when he suffered an early technical problem and became the season’s first retirement.

“I think it would have been an easy podium and third would have been a decent start to the season but what can you do?,” he said.

SAFETY CAR

The first safety car was deployed when Haas’s Kevin Magnussen spun off on lap 26 and it then came out again when George Russell parked up his stricken Williams.

The third was after Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo turned into a three-wheeler, a loose wheel bouncing off and across the track.

Bottas had Hamilton in his mirrors soon enough but the Briton was handed a five-second time penalty for causing a collision with Red Bull’s Alex Albon while defending second place.

The Thai spun off into the gravel, his podium hopes gone.

“It’s not been a great weekend for me, yesterday was entirely my fault and to get a penalty today… it is what it is,” said Hamilton.

Leclerc, whose team had struggled in qualifying with Vettel failing even to make the top 10, moved up to third against all expectations — which became second after the chequered flag.

“It feels like a victory today,” said the Monegasque.

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Slideshow (4 Images)

Perez, who ran as high as third, lost out to Norris two laps from the end but the Mexican was already carrying a time penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Anyone who had feared Mercedes enjoying a race of their own, after dominating practice and qualifying, need not have worried. They fretted over gearbox sensors and possible kerb damage as he race wore on.

The second race is at the same circuit next weekend, another Formula One first.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by William Maclean and Ken Ferris

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Future cars Russia’s June new car sales fall 14.6% y/y

Future cars

MOSCOW, July 7 (Reuters) – Sales of new cars in Russia fell by 14.6% in June year on year to 122,622 vehicles after a 51.8% decline in the previous month, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) said on Tuesday.

The AEB forecast a year-on-year drop of 23.9% in new car sales this year. (Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Robots Why 1 million pigs could be euthanized due to COVID-19-related supply chain issues

Robots

Following is a full transcript of this video. 

Narrator: When coronavirus outbreaks shut down meat-processing plants across the US, animals headed here were suddenly stranded here.

Mike Patterson: As time has gone on and plants haven’t been able to operate, that’s created a big backlog of pigs.

Narrator: With nowhere to send their pigs, some farmers were forced to euthanize their herds. 

Jayson Lusk: You’re literally talking about millions and millions of pigs that were intended to go to market but are still remaining on the farm.

Narrator: The backup at farms led to record-breaking meat prices and cleared-out shelves. The US was in the midst of a meat shortage.

Anya Fernald: You start with the ethics of it, like, animals live and die to make your product, and then you get to the concentration of it. It’s a pretty hairy beast.

Narrator: But why did this all happen? And how can we avoid it from happening in the future? America is the World’s leading producer of beef and poultry. It’s also one of the top producers of pork in the World. In the US alone, an estimated 9 billion animals are slaughtered a year.

In order to process all that meat, the industry is efficient and concentrated. Simply put, as many animals as possible move from the farm to the slaughterhouse as quickly as possible. When the system works, US meat prices are among the most affordable on the planet. But that efficiency becomes a problem in the face of COVID-19. For one, workers operate in tight quarters.

Lusk: They’re in refrigerated environments with recirculating air. This was an environment in which COVID could apparently be spread easily from worker to worker.

Narrator: An estimated 25,000 meatpacking workers have contracted COVID-19. And outbreaks in 167 plants forced 38 in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa to close. Since only a small number of plants handle most of the industry’s meat…

Lusk: When any one of them closes, it has an impact on the entire industry.

Fernald: It’s like the only store shut down in town and you can’t get milk [laughs] if you’re a farmer.

Lusk: By early May, beef and pork plants were running at about 40% below the processing volumes we saw just a year ago. So that’s an enormous reduction in processing volumes and caused all kinds of disruptions.

Narrator: This has hit farmers like Mike hard.

Patterson: When COVID started really impacting the plants, our percentage of utilization of the plants just kind of kept going down and down and down. That’s created a real backlog of pigs.

Narrator: Every year, Mike and his co-op send about 150,000 hogs to the Smithfield plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But when COVID-19 closed that plant, they had nowhere to send their animals.

Patterson: We got our letter April 11 that the Smithfield plant was gonna be closed. Turned out to be four weeks that they didn’t receive any hogs in Sioux Falls.

Narrator: Remember, the meat industry is streamlined to be exact.

Patterson: We’re looking for a uniform end product. Last ones were 284. These might be… I think they’re gonna be pretty close to that. It’s real similar.

Narrator: All the pigs Mike, or any farmer, sends to a plant have to weigh about 280 pounds.

Lusk: If it gets above 300, 330 pounds, the plants are just not configured to take animals of that size.

Narrator: Mike tried to put them on a diet.

Patterson: Right now, it’s just basically ground corn. There’s some vitamins and minerals and salt in there. Now, usually we would have soybean meal, dried distillers grains from the ethanol process in there as well. But those feeds are more expensive, and we were trying to slow their growth. This diet should slow them down to about one pound a day, and usually they’re gaining two, two and a half pounds a day at this stage.

Narrator: But even on a diet, they were growing beyond the 280-pound mark by the day. It was a no-win scenario. They had shipments of baby pigs still coming in from nursing farms. They were running out of space and feed. The current pigs were getting too fat, and factories were still closed.

Lusk: Last-case situation is unfortunately where farmers have to consider euthanizing some animals. Narrator: Combined, Mike’s cooperative has had to euthanize over 3,400 pigs.

Patterson: About a half million dollars’ worth.

Narrator: But Mike estimates if you add in the feed costs, the loss for his co-op is upwards of $1.5 million.

Lusk: I don’t know that it’s even possible to compare the economic losses to sort of the psychological impact that this has on producers. Neither one are positive. It’s really kind of a double whammy, I think.

Narrator: The situation Mike’s co-op faced was happening all over the country.

Lusk: So, one way to think about it is like this: In this country, we have a processing capacity of about 500,000 pigs per day.

Narrator: Remember, the industry was running at about 40% below capacity.

Lusk: If you do the math every day, that’s an extra 200,000 pigs that were meant to go to market but instead stayed on the farm. So you do that for five days, which happened, that’s a million extra pigs that were gonna go to market.

Narrator: After a couple of weeks, that’s millions of pigs at risk of being euthanized. All of this is why consumers have seen higher meat prices and those empty shelves, which Jason estimates may stretch out for at least another six months.

Since mid-May, things have started getting better. Factories like Smithfield Sioux Falls have reopened with limited production and social-distancing measures. Euthanization of animals has slowed, and as a result, production and meat prices have started to stabilize.

But what can we do so this doesn’t happen again? One option is to rely more on smaller, vertically integrated farms.

Fernald: When you see a piece of meat in the grocery store, it’s typically been touched by 15 or 20 different types of companies, and all of those companies are hyper-specialized and they operate at a really efficient scale.

Narrator: That’s Anya. She owns Belcampo Farms, a vertically integrated meat company out in Northern California.

Fernald: Our supply chain relies entirely on our own infrastructure. We own our own farms, our own slaughterhouse, and several direct-to-consumer businesses.

Narrator: Belcampo’s home to 3,000 grass-fed organic cattle. They have 30,000 acres to roam and live seven to 10 times longer than conventional cattle. The slaughtering process is also slowed down, with only 50 to 60 animals processed a day in a slaughterhouse that Belcampo owns, just 20 minutes from the farm.

Fernald: I think of it as, like, intentional inefficiency.

Narrator: And because Belcampo exists outside of the normal meat industry…

Fernald: We’re not reliant on the broader meat infrastructure. Since we have our own slaughterhouse that we’ve had extremely aggressive and proactive safety measures in, we have not had any issues.

Narrator: This also made it easier for Anya to start social-distancing measures in the plant before the CDC required it.

Fernald: We implemented mandatory temp checking and a questionnaire every day as of, like, March 18.

Narrator: Direct-to-consumer models could be another shake-up in the industry, cutting out distribution centers. Anya’s e-commerce site saw unprecedented traffic, and her app delivering meat to homes in San Francisco and LA…

Fernald: Went from, like, 3,000 to 20,000 users in the past month.

Narrator: As for the bigger meat companies at the heart of this issue, Jayson has a few ideas. More medium-sized plants, for starters, so if one goes down, it doesn’t take the whole supply chain with it.

Lusk: Even if you’re one of the large processors, you may think about giving up some of that economies of scale to maybe reduce some risks.

Narrator: But Jayson says the most effective change would be:

Lusk: Automation.

Narrator: Robots don’t get sick.

Lusk: It’s just hard. We’re not putting together car parts that are uniform in shape and size. Animals are different sizes, shapes, weights.

Narrator: But whether or not the meat industry will make any of these changes comes down to what the consumers demand and how much they’re willing to pay for any real changes.

Fernald: That’s been a choice we’ve been making with our wallets for years, where we love cheap protein. Are customers gonna pay up for a secure supply chain? And I think that the more we talk about it, the more people are gonna raise their hands and say, “I’m opting out.”

Abby Narishkin: Hey, guys. My name’s Abby, and I’m the producer on this video. One thing that came up in our reporting was whether or not this meat shortage would lead to more nonmeat purchases, like if you’re at the grocery store and you go and get chicken but there isn’t any, do you then turn to pick up soy nuggets? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and make sure to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss the next episode of “Big Business.”

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Racing to Exawatt Class Lasers and Beyond

Peak laser intensity demonstrations have occurred on specific Nd:glass-based lasers:

the Vulcan PW in the UK at 1 × 10^21 W/cm2 (2004);
the Ti:sapphirebased HERCULES laser at the University of Michigan, USA at 1 × 10^22 W/cm2 (2004)
J-KAREN-P in Japan at 1 × 10^22 W/cm2 (2018)
record intensity of 5.5 × 10^22 W/cm2 was demonstrated at the CoReLS laser (2019)

Even the highest-peak-power laser systems (10 PW and beyond) proposed or already in commissioning make no exception to this trend and largely predict intensities of only up to 10^23 W/cm2
(notably L4-ELI, EP-OPAL , SULF and SEL).

A fundamental physics or engineering limit is not clear; however, material challenges such as imperfect diffraction gratings, optics and gain materials reduce the overall laser focusability in time and space.

The steady ascent of Ti:sapphire, OPCPA and Nd:glass technologies upward in peak power has, with the construction of several ten to multi-tens of petawatt systems, nearly reached the ∼100 PW limit of metre-scale gold diffraction gratings.

The continued progress of ultra-intense CPA lasers must take a multi-beam approach. Non-CPA Nd:glass fusion lasers have taken this approach for decades, which is most dramatically demonstrated with the 192-beam NIF laser. This could take the form of either incoherent or coherent beam combination of ∼10 PW scale beams. Indeed, the Shanghai SEL facility is already taking that approach to reach the 100 PW scale by combining four multi-tens of petawatt beams.

Ultra-high-power development

The drive to deliver ever-increasing powers is driven largely by a desire to achieve ever-increasing intensities to target to achieve focused intensities over 10^23 W/cm2. At these focused intensities new regimes of physics could be realized. Various techniques could be used to scale lasers to exawatt class facilities. Three techniques are
• 100 PW OPCPA systems
• Alternative 100 PW schemes
• Plasma amplifiers.

The primary challenges being developed for 100 PW OPCPA ranked by difficulty are:
(1) Advanced gratings; large-aperture DKDP; specialized optical coatings for large-aperture mirrors.
(2) Wavefront control, adaptive optics, and two-stage focusing to maximize focused intensity.
(3) Ultra-short-pulse laser diagnostics and broadband dispersion control.
(4) Laser subsystem development including broadband front end and OPA gain adjustment.

A common feature of the exawatt scale (over 200 PW) facilities is a requirement for coherent pulse combination as a means of generating sufficient power, due to the constraints of individual beam delivery.

The original concept of ELI was for another facility to use a coherent superposition of up to ten 20 PW beamlines to produce 200 PW to target. The facility is still on the agenda but is currently unfunded. All three of the existing pillars are contributing to high-power laser development or nonlinear conversion techniques to generate the baseline technologies to approach the 200 PW level and ultimately
generate focused intensities over 10^25 W/cm2. In 2011, the international institute IZEST (International Institute for Zettawatt-Exawatt Science and Technology) was created to provide scientific and organizational support of projects aimed at developing exawatt power lasers and their applications.

The next decade will see a dramatic increase in development work across the globe for the delivery of over 100 PW systems, together with the SEL project expected to come online in
2023. These facilities will open up a new regime in discovery science as focused intensities in excess of 10^23 W/cm2 could be realized. To achieve 100 PW operation of future systems with modest energies, researchers are also endeavoring to reduce the pulse width of these lasers towards the single cycle limit.

Compression after Compressor Approach (CafCA)

The main limitation of laser power is the damage threshold and physical size of diffraction gratings. It is not possible to increase the pulse energy after grating compression, but laser power may be increased by pulse shortening. The technique described here is called Compression after Compressor Approach (CafCA) and is based on spectral broadening by selfphase modulation (SPM) in nonlinear plates and eliminating the spectral phase through chirped mirror(s). This idea has been successfully used in mJ pulse energy systems since the 1980s, but power scaling was limited by the aperture of gas-filled capillaries and self-focusing. CafCA could drastically increase the power of any laser from terawatts to tens of petawatts.

In recent years CafCA was demonstrated with crystals, glasses, or plastics, in which the most powerful experiment to date was carried out where a 100- mm-diameter 5.5 J pulse was compressed from 57 fs to 22 fs. This got around the capillary problem.

Nexawatt

Currently, scaling of petawatt lasers to higher pulse energy and peak powers is limited by several things: intensity-dependent damage thresholds of postcompression and final focusing optics, insufficient stretched pulse durations needed to avoid damage to amplifier and transport optics, and a lack of pre-amplifier bandwidth to support shorter pulse durations.

The Nexawatt concept proposed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, US relies on extracting the full potential of the disc amplifiers of a NIF or NIF-like beamline (∼25 kJ) but using a novel compressor design to confine this energy to a 100 fs pulse, producing pulses with peak powers of over 200 PW. This could be achieved using a typical four-grating compressor; however, two of the gratings would require apertures of 4.5 meters. A six-grating compressor design is proposed utilizing gratings with a more achievable 2-meter aperture manufactured by stitched lithographic exposure.

Damage to final optics is avoided by increasing beam area via splitting the beam prior to compression and then coherently recombining the beams prior to focusing, where peak intensities of 10^26 W/cm2 are anticipated.

Plasma Amplifiers

Novel laser amplification techniques such as OPCPA or diode-pumped solid-state lasers are threatening to overtake even the theoretical predictions for Raman amplification for near-infrared laser pulses. Thus, Raman amplification needs to find new niches where these competing techniques are not strong:
(i) scalability to other wavelengths;
(ii) scalability of signal pulse parameters with pump intensity and duration; and
(iii) amplification of higher-order laser modes, rather than just Gaussian

High Average Power

Getting both high-peak and high-average powers simultaneously is therefore becoming increasingly important. The first particle acceleration demonstrations relied on petawatt laser systems with relatively low repetition rates (1 Hz) like BELLA at LNBL, USA, that were energized by multiple, aperture-combined flashlamp-pumped Nd:YAG lasers. The HAPLS laser developed by LLNL for ELI-Beamlines is the highest average power diodepumped petawatt laser capable of delivering up to 300 Watts of average power for user experiments. However, future particle accelerators would require the laser to operate at repetition rates orders of magnitude higher to reach the hundreds of kW average power needed.

Techniques which are making significant advances in the development of systems to deliver high-average-power capabilities:
• HAP gas-cooled architectures
• Scaling petawatt class lasers beyond 10 kW
• Cryo-HAP laser development
• Coherent beam combining
• Time-domain pulse combining
• Temperature-insensitive OPCPA.

SOURCES- High Power Laser Science and Engineering, (2019), Vol. 7, e54, 54 pages – Petawatt and exawatt class lasers worldwide
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

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Future cars Cars, a cocktail and a celebrity: South Koreans succumb to Tesla fever

Future cars

SEOUL, July 8 (Reuters) – From an eponymous cocktail to eager buyers following the shipping routes of long-awaited cars, Tesla Inc is having a moment in South Korea, particularly among tech-savvy professionals.

Kang Sung-mo, who runs an advertising production agency in Seoul, is a convert.

“I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand and its technology,” the 39-year-old told Reuters.

Kang bought a Tesla Model 3 in December, ditching the Hyundai crossover he bought only last summer. Being associated with Tesla’s reputation for innovation was good for his image, he said.

The U.S. electric car maker had its best month for South Korea in June, selling 2,827 vehicles and bouncing back from weak sales in April and May which were hit by U.S. production disruptions due to the coronavirus. The Model 3 is now the country’s No.2 imported vehicle, ahead of the BMW 5 series and the Audi A6, and just behind the Mercedes E-Class.

By contrast, Hyundai Motor Co, the dominant automaker in South Korea, saw sales of its Kona EV slump 31% in June to 2,513 vehicles.

Another 4,000 to 5,000 South Korean customers have the Model 3 on order, although most of them may have to wait until at least September for delivery, said a source familiar with the matter. The source was not authorised to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

Tesla’s rising popularity among affluent professionals in South Korea, who have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic, is one of many feathers in its cap.

Highlighting the threat it poses to established brands, Tesla last week surpassed Toyota Motor Corp as the World’s most valuable automaker while its second-quarter deliveries smashed expectations at a time when sales at rivals have been laid low by the pandemic.

South Korea’s generous subsidies of 12.43 million won ($10,380) for the Model 3 have definitely helped sales, bringing the car’s price down to less than $40,000, but the Silicon Valley automaker has also generated a genuine buzz.

In social media posts, South Korean Tesla fans avidly track the routes of ships bringing its cars to Asia, while at the country’s bars, the latest trendy cocktail is a mix of HiteJinro’s Terra-brand beer and the Korean traditional liquor ‘soju’. Smashed together, their names are pronounced “Tesla” in Korean.

The automaker has additionally benefited from free advertising after popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, known for his sense of style, drove his Tesla Model X SUV to go grocery shopping on a reality show aired last month. That has led to a spike in orders for the vehicle, a second person familiar with the matter said without elaborating.

Some new Korean owners noted they bought a Tesla for practical reasons.

Kim Dong-hwan, who works in IT in Seoul, wanted to avoid public transportation during the pandemic and driving fatigue on his long commute.

Not everything is perfect – his Model 3 has a panel gap and he has to wait several months before it will be fixed – but Kim says the benefits and emotional appeal of a technologically advanced brand were worth it.

“I am very satisfied given that Tesla’s self-driving feature has reduced fatigue while driving,” he said.

$1=1,197.4600 won
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Daewoung
Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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Future cars Cars, a cocktail and a celebrity: South Koreans succumb to Tesla fever

Future cars

SEOUL (Reuters) – From an eponymous cocktail to eager buyers following the shipping routes of long-awaited cars, Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) is having a moment in South Korea, particularly among tech-savvy professionals.

Future cars

A woman walks past a Tesla dealership in Hanam, South Korea, July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Kang Sung-mo, who runs an advertising production agency in Seoul, is a convert.

“I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand and its technology,” the 39-year-old told Reuters.

Kang bought a Tesla Model 3 in December, ditching the Hyundai crossover he bought only last summer. Being associated with Tesla’s reputation for innovation was good for his image, he said.

The U.S. electric car maker had its best month for South Korea in June, selling 2,827 vehicles and bouncing back from weak sales in April and May which were hit by U.S. production disruptions due to the coronavirus. The Model 3 is now the country’s No.2 imported vehicle, ahead of the BMW 5 series and the Audi A6, and just behind the Mercedes E-Class.

By contrast, Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS), the dominant automaker in South Korea, saw sales of its Kona EV slump 31% in June to 2,513 vehicles.

Another 4,000 to 5,000 South Korean customers have the Model 3 on order, although most of them may have to wait until at least September for delivery, said a source familiar with the matter. The source was not authorised to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

Tesla’s rising popularity among affluent professionals in South Korea, who have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic, is one of many feathers in its cap.

Highlighting the threat it poses to established brands, Tesla last week surpassed Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) as the World’s most valuable automaker while its second-quarter deliveries smashed expectations at a time when sales at rivals have been laid low by the pandemic.

South Korea’s generous subsidies of 12.43 million won ($10,380) for the Model 3 have definitely helped sales, bringing the car’s price down to less than $40,000, but the Silicon Valley automaker has also generated a genuine buzz.

In social media posts, South Korean Tesla fans avidly track the routes of ships bringing its cars to Asia, while at the country’s bars, the latest trendy cocktail is a mix of HiteJinro’s (000080.KS) Terra-brand beer and the Korean traditional liquor ‘soju’. Smashed together, their names are pronounced “Tesla” in Korean.

The automaker has additionally benefited from free advertising after popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, known for his sense of style, drove his Tesla Model X SUV to go grocery shopping on a reality show aired last month. That has led to a spike in orders for the vehicle, a second person familiar with the matter said without elaborating.

Some new Korean owners noted they bought a Tesla for practical reasons.

Kim Dong-hwan, who works in IT in Seoul, wanted to avoid public transportation during the pandemic and driving fatigue on his long commute.

Not everything is perfect – his Model 3 has a panel gap and he has to wait several months before it will be fixed – but Kim says the benefits and emotional appeal of a technologically advanced brand were worth it.

“I am very satisfied given that Tesla’s self-driving feature has reduced fatigue while driving,” he said.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Daewoung Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Story continue

Future cars Cars, a cocktail and a celebrity: South Koreans succumb to Tesla fever

Future cars

SEOUL (Reuters) – From an eponymous cocktail to eager buyers following the shipping routes of long-awaited cars, Tesla Inc is having a moment in South Korea, particularly among tech-savvy professionals.

Future cars

Tesla electric vehicles for test driving are parked in Hanam, South Korea, July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Kang Sung-mo, who runs an advertising production agency in Seoul, is a convert.

“I am not interested in cars, but I am interested in the Tesla brand and its technology,” the 39-year-old told Reuters.

Kang bought a Tesla Model 3 in December, ditching the Hyundai crossover he bought only last summer. Being associated with Tesla’s reputation for innovation was good for his image, he said.

The U.S. electric car maker had its best month for South Korea in June, selling 2,827 vehicles and bouncing back from weak sales in April and May which were hit by U.S. production disruptions due to the coronavirus. The Model 3 is now the country’s No.2 imported vehicle, ahead of the BMW 5 series and the Audi A6, and just behind the Mercedes E-Class.

By contrast, Hyundai Motor Co, the dominant automaker in South Korea, saw sales of its Kona EV slump 31% in June to 2,513 vehicles.

Another 4,000 to 5,000 South Korean customers have the Model 3 on order, although most of them may have to wait until at least September for delivery, said a source familiar with the matter. The source was not authorised to speak to the media and declined to be identified.

Tesla’s rising popularity among affluent professionals in South Korea, who have been relatively unscathed by the pandemic, is one of many feathers in its cap.

Highlighting the threat it poses to established brands, Tesla last week surpassed Toyota Motor Corp as the World’s most valuable automaker while its second-quarter deliveries smashed expectations at a time when sales at rivals have been laid low by the pandemic.

South Korea’s generous subsidies of 12.43 million won ($10,380) for the Model 3 have definitely helped sales, bringing the car’s price down to less than $40,000, but the Silicon Valley automaker has also generated a genuine buzz.

In social media posts, South Korean Tesla fans avidly track the routes of ships bringing its cars to Asia, while at the country’s bars, the latest trendy cocktail is a mix of HiteJinro’s Terra-brand beer and the Korean traditional liquor ‘soju’. Smashed together, their names are pronounced “Tesla” in Korean.

The automaker has additionally benefited from free advertising after popular Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, known for his sense of style, drove his Tesla Model X SUV to go grocery shopping on a reality show aired last month. That has led to a spike in orders for the vehicle, a second person familiar with the matter said without elaborating.

Some new Korean owners noted they bought a Tesla for practical reasons.

Kim Dong-hwan, who works in IT in Seoul, wanted to avoid public transportation during the pandemic and driving fatigue on his long commute.

Not everything is perfect – his Model 3 has a panel gap and he has to wait several months before it will be fixed – but Kim says the benefits and emotional appeal of a technologically advanced brand were worth it.

“I am very satisfied given that Tesla’s self-driving feature has reduced fatigue while driving,” he said.

Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Additional reporting by Daewoung Kim; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Story continue

Electrical cars EV Coronavirus: Moguls and lobbyists get millions in government aid

Electrical cars EV

electrical cars  EV US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was under pressure to share more information about the loans

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been under pressure to share more information about the PPP loans

The US government has distributed more than $521bn (415bn) to businesses from its emergency coronavirus aid. This week, the public finally got a glimpse of who’s been getting the money.

The list, released by the US Treasury Department, reignited debate about the controversial programme, called the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

“We don’t want to say that the PPP didn’t help small businesses – it did. But well-connected small businesses got helped first and most,” said Joshua Gotbaum, a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution think tank.

The programme was intended to help small firms and prevent widespread layoffs during the pandemic. It offers loans, distributed by banks, that can be forgiven if firms use them primarily to pay staff wages,

But it has faced significant criticism, including that money has gone to bigger companies that don’t need the help. Government inspectors have also warned that it is at risk of fraud, due to limited transparency and oversight.

The names published on Monday represented firms that received loans worth more than $150,000 – less than 15% of the more than 4.8 million overall loans. And some flaws in the data have surfaced. (Scooter company Bird said it was erroneously listed.)

Steve Ellis, president of budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, called the disclosures long overdue. But he warned that the government will have to provide much more information if it wants to build confidence that programme is not being abused.

“Just because they’ve provided a list of names and businesses … doesn’t mean the money wasn’t wasted or doesn’t mean the money was wasted,” he said.

So who got the money?

The politically connected

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Representative Devin Nunes, a California Republican, owns stakes in two wineries that received loans

Recipients included businesses owned by the family of Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law; a shipping business owned by the family of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao; and several members of Congress or their spouses.

New York law firm Kasowitz, Benson & Torres, headed by Mr Trump’s long-time personal attorney Marc Kasowitz, also received a loan worth between $5 million and $10 million. It was among dozens of law firms that received PPP aid.

Dozens of tenants of Mr Trump’s real estate company also received money, as did many powerful Washington lobby groups and political organisations, such as the Black Congressional Caucus.

Mr Gotbaum said it was “scandalous” that firms tied to politicians were benefiting from the programme, which at one point ran out of money.

Electrical cars EV Celebrities

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Getty Images

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Kanye and his daughter North at his Yeezy fashion show in Paris in March

Kanye West’s Yeezy apparel brand – which recently announced a long-term deal with Gap – got a loan worth between $2m and $5m, which was expected to help save 106 jobs.

Several other high profile fashion figures also got funds in that range, including Oscar de la Renta and Vera Wang.

The Nobu restaurants and hotels backed by actor Robert De Niro also received worth between $11m and $28m, while Francis Ford Coppola Winery, owned by the director’s family, received a loan worth between $1m and $2m.

“We are using the PPP loan to ensure employee wages and benefits continue during these uncertain times,” the winery wrote on Twitter after the deal was flagged.

Electrical cars EV Politically controversial groups

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EPA

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Republicans and the Small Business Administration have pressed Planned Parenthood to return the funds

The Ayn Rand Institute received a loan between $350,000 and $1m, to retain 35 jobs, while Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform Foundation received $150,000-$300,000 for 33 jobs.

The group, known for its anti-tax, anti-spending views, said it had not opposed the Paycheck Protection Program, “viewing it as compensation for a government taking during the shutdown”.

Planned Parenthood affiliates also received more than $40m in loans. Republican lawmakers and the Small Business Administration have pressed the women’s health care group, which provides abortion services, to return the money.

Electrical cars EV Foreign companies

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NIO

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The NIO EP9 is one of the fastest electric cars in the World

Some foreign companies also receiving relief including Korean Airlines, which received $5-$10m in aid to retain 500 US-based employees; and Chinese electric car maker Nio, which received $5-$10m in aid to retain 204 employees in America.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the money has been used to save more than 51 million jobs but in thousands of cases, loans were granted despite no job numbers being provided.

Mr Gotbaum said evidence so far suggests the boost to employment has been somewhat limited, especially after Congress loosened rules about how the PPP funds must be spent.

He said it would have been more effective to send money to workers directly via tax systems, as many other countries have done.

“You have to be smart about how to get the money out,” he said.

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Electrical cars EV Coronavirus: Trump moves to pull US out of Health Organization

Electrical cars EV

electrical cars  EV Donald Trump

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Reuters

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Donald Trump has accused the WHO of being under China’s control

President Donald Trump has formally moved to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The president had made his intentions clear in late May, accusing the WHO of being under China’s control in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite calls from the EU and others, he said he would pull out of the UN agency and redirect funds elsewhere.

He has now notified the UN and Congress of his intentions, although the process could take at least a year.

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, confirmed the US had notified it of its withdrawal, effective as of 6 July 2021.

Senator Robert Menendez, the leading Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, also wrote on Twitter: “Congress received notification that POTUS officially withdrew the US from the WHO in the midst of a pandemic.

“It leaves Americans sick and America alone.”

A senior US administration official told CBS News that Washington had detailed the reforms that it wanted the WHO to make and engaged with it directly, but that the WHO had refused to act.

“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship,” the official was quoted as saying.

The US is the global health agency’s largest single contributor, providing more than $400m (£324m; €360m) in 2019, around 15% of its total budget.

Under a Congress resolution in 1948, the US can withdraw but must give a year’s notice and should pay outstanding fees, although it is unclear where Mr Trump stands on that. Mr Dujarric stressed that those conditions should be met.

The withdrawal will call into question the WHO’s financial viability and the future of its many programmes promoting healthcare and tackling disease.

Electrical cars EV What has Mr Trump said about the WHO?

He first announced in April that he was going to halt US funding for the WHO unless it undertook “substantive improvements” within 30 days.

Then in late May he said: “We will be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and directing those funds” to other global public health charities.

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Media captionMr Trump has repeatedly criticised China’s early handling of the outbreak

“The World is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” he said, adding that China had “instigated a global pandemic”.

The president accused China of pressurising the WHO to “mislead the World” about the virus, without giving evidence for his allegations.

“China has total control over the World Health Organization,” the president said.

Other countries, including Germany and the UK, have said they have no intention of withdrawing funding from the WHO, which is co-ordinating a global initiative to develop a vaccine against Covid-19

Electrical cars EV What is the WHO – and who funds it?

  • Founded in 1948 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, it is the UN agency responsible for global public health
  • Has 194 member states, and aims to “promote health, keep the World safe and serve the vulnerable”
  • Involved in vaccination campaigns, health emergencies and supporting countries in primary care
  • Funded by a combination of members’ fees based on wealth and population and voluntary contributions

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Electrical cars EV Coronavirus: Brazil’s President Bolsonaro removes mask despite positive Covid-19 test

Electrical cars EV

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for coronavirus – after previously being criticised for calling the virus a “little flu”.

Mr Bolsonaro says he took the test, his fourth, on Monday after developing symptoms, including a high temperature.

After announcing the positive result to the media, Mr Bolsonaro stepped back and removed his mask before continuing to speak.

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