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Hyundai Aims to Take on Tesla With Launch of Ioniq 6 First Electric Sedan

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By Reuters | Updated: 14 July 2022

Hyundai Motor Co on Thursday launched its first electric sedan, Ioniq 6, which the South Korean automaker is betting will help it grab a bigger share of the electric vehicle (EV) market dominated by Tesla Inc.

The Ioniq 6 is one of more than 31 electric models that Hyundai Motor Group – including Hyundai Motor, its sister company Kia Corp and premium brand Genesis – plans to introduce through 2030 to secure a projected 12 percent of the global EV market.

Hyundai’s sedan will expand its EV range beyond its current crossovers and SUVs to compete head-to-head against Tesla’s best-selling Model 3 sedan.

Hyundai and Kia were already the second-biggest EV shippers globally excluding China in January to May this year, with a combined 13.5 percent market share that was second only to Tesla at 22 percent, according to industry tracker SNE Research.

The Ioniq 6 will be priced in the range of KRW 55 million (roughly Rs. 33,53,800) to KRW 65 million (roughly Rs. 3,964,200) for the South Korean market.

“The Ioniq 6 will be able to compete with Tesla in the volume EV sedan sector, considering its competitive pricing and long driving range,” said Lee Jae-il, an analyst at Eugene Investment & Securities.

The Ioniq 6 could leverage its pricing in the EV sedan market because Tesla has increased prices several times, he added.

The Hyundai electric sedan will have a driving range of about 610km (380 miles), around 30 percent more than the Ioniq 5 crossover, Hyundai said.

“We are using the same (battery) cell chemistry but … we maximised the amount of batteries per each pack, enhancing energy density significantly,” said Kim Yong Wha, an executive vice president at Hyundai.

It will come in two battery pack options – 53-kilowatt per hour (kWh) and 77.4 kWh – and will begin production at its Asan plant in South Korea later this year, Hyundai said.

The Ioniq 6 will be available in South Korea this year and the U.S. market launch is expected in the first quarter of next year, it added.

Hyundai said the Ioniq 6 launched this year would source batteries from SK Innovation’s SK On and LG Energy Solution’s batteries will be used from next year.

The launch comes after Hyundai announced its plans to build dedicated EV plants both at home and the United States, where the Ioniq 5 and Kia’s EV 6 SUV together became the second-best selling EVs after Tesla cars and ahead of Ford Motor Co’s Mustang Mach-E.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

Technology

Elon Musk Set to Unveil ‘Optimus’ Humanoid Robot After Delay on Tesla Day: All Details

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 September 2022

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said a robot business will be worth more than its cars, and on Friday investors, customers and potential workers expect to see a prototype at Tesla’s “AI Day” that could prove whether the bot named “Optimus” is ready for work.

The robot will be the star of the AI show, but Musk is also expected to discuss Tesla’s long-delayed self-driving technology. In May, Musk said that the world’s most valuable carmaker would be “worth basically zero” without achieving full self-driving capability, and it faces growing regulatory probes, as well as technological hurdles.

“There will be lots of technical detail & cool hardware demos,” Musk wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday, adding the event was aimed at recruiting engineers.

Tesla’s live demonstration record is mixed. Launches typically draw cheers, but in 2019 when Musk had an employee hurl a steel ball at the armored window of a new electric pickup truck, the glass cracked.

The key test for the robot is whether it can handle unexpected situations.

Musk announced Tesla’s plan for humanoid robots at its AI day in August last year and delayed this year’s event from August to have its robot prototype working, with a plan to start production possibly next year.

Tesla teased the unveiling of the bot on social media with an image of metallic robotic hands making a heart shape. But building human-like, versatile hands that can manipulate different objects is extremely challenging, said Heni Ben Amor, a robotics professor at Arizona State University.

Initially, Optimus, an allusion to the powerful and benevolent leader of the Autobots in the Transformers media franchise, would perform boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around Tesla factories or attaching a bolt to a car with a wrench, according to Musk.

“There’s so much about what people can do dexterously that’s very, very hard for robots. And that’s not going to change whether the robot is a robot arm or whether it’s in the shape of a humanoid,” Jonathan Hurst, chief technology officer at Agility Robotics, a humanoid robot firm, told Reuters.

Musk has said that in the future robots could be used in homes, making dinners, mowing the lawn, and caring for the elderly, and even becoming a “buddy” for humans or a sex partner.

He is due at Friday’s event to give updates on Tesla’s much-delayed plan to launch self-driving cars, and on its high-speed computer, Dojo, which was unveiled last year and the company has said is integral to its development of self-driving technology.

Musk has said he expects Tesla will achieve full self-driving this year and mass produce a robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedal by 2024.

At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robotaxis by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a car.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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New York to Ban New Gas Vehicles by 2035, Gradually Tighten Emissions Standards for ICE Vehicles: All Details

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 30 September 2022

New York advanced a plan Thursday to require that all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 be zero emissions, state Governor Kathy Hochul said.

After signing legislation last year, Hochul announced officials were putting their “foot down on the accelerator” after having been required due to a federal law to wait for California to pass its own legislation.

California ruled in August that an ever-increasing percentage of new cars sold to the state’s 40 million inhabitants must produce no tailpipe pollutants, until their total ban in 2035.

Following that decision, Hochul directed New York authorities to move on regulatory steps to ensure all new passenger cars, pickup trucks and SUVs sold in the state are zero emissions by 2035.

The directive sets interim targets of 35 percent of sales by 2026 and 68 percent by 2030.

“We actually have benchmarks to achieve to show we’re on the path to get there,” Hochul said in a speech in the city of White Plains.

The regulations will also gradually tighten emissions standards for vehicles with internal combustion engines.

To offset costs of EVs, Hochul announced further funding for a rebate program for purchasers and touted advances in the state’s charging infrastructure.

The state is also due to receive $175 million (roughly Rs, 1,430 crore) from the federal government for its charging network.

California and New York join jurisdictions around the world that have set their sights on the polluting automobile sector to combat climate change in recent years.

Britain, Singapore and Israel are eyeing 2030, while the European Union wants to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035.

Last year, the Associated Press reported that US President Joe Biden had announced a commitment from the auto industry to produce electric vehicles for as much as half of US sales by the end of the decade, while declaring the US must “move fast” to win the world’s carmaking future.

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Tesla Appoints Airbnb Co-Founder Joseph Gebbia to Board Following US SEC Complaint by Shareholder Body

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By Reuters | Updated: 29 September 2022

Tesla said on Wednesday that Airbnb co-founder Joseph Gebbia has joined the electric vehicle maker’s board, reversing a move to trim the number of directors at the world’s most valuable carmaker.

Tesla said in June it planned to have just seven board seats after the departure of Oracle Inc co-founder Larry Ellison in August, sparking criticism from a shareholder body over a lack of independent board members.

In July, SOC Investment Group filed a complaint with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) saying Tesla’s plan failed to comply with a 2018 “consent decree” with the SEC that included having two independent board seats.

That agreement stemmed from a tweet by CEO Elon Musk about taking Tesla private. Ellison, a self-described close friend of Musk, was appointed by Tesla in December 2018 to comply with the agreement.

Gebbia, a US billionaire designer and Internet entrepreneur, joins Tesla after saying in July he would take on an advisory role at Airbnb, stepping away from his full-time role.

“Congrats on an incredible company with Airbnb, now for Book 2!'” Musk tweeted at that time.

In 2018, Gebbia had lauded Musk’s attempt to take Tesla private as a “baller move” in text messages that were revealed earlier this year as part of an ongoing shareholder lawsuit. Musk responded, “Sucks being public.”

Some experts doubted whether the billionaire would add diversity to the Tesla board.

“This sounds like more of the same. More of the bros of Mr. Musk rather than someone new and different,” said John Coffee, a professor and director at the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School.

Gebbia, 41, has waived all entitlement to cash compensation and has agreed to not take any stock-based rewards until July 2023, Tesla said in a regulatory filing.


© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Mahindra Said to Be in Talks to Raise Up to $500 Million to Accelerate Plans to Build Electric Vehicles in India

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By Reuters | Updated: 23 September 2022

Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra is in talks with global investors to raise between $250 million and $500 million (roughly Rs. 4,040 crore) to accelerate its plans to build electric vehicles (EVs), a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Mahindra is in early talks with global green funds and private equity firms, the person said, adding that it wants a long-term investor who can help build out its EV business.

Some investors, however, in recent months have shown interest in participating in a funding round of worth around $800 million (roughly Rs. 6,470 crore), two banking industry sources said, adding that they have held talks with the company about such offers.

While Mahindra is not actively looking to raise a higher amount than $250 million (roughly Rs. 2,020 crore) – $500 million (roughly Rs. 4,040 crore), it is not closed to the idea of raising the deal size depending on the terms and valuation, the first source said.

“Mahindra wants to bring a benchmark investor onboard but does not want to dilute a large stake at present,” he said, adding that these plans are at an early stage and subject to changes.

Mahindra’s new EV unit for which it is raising the funds was valued at $9.1 billion (roughly Rs. 73,570 crore) in July after its first raise of $250 million (roughly Rs. 2,020 crore) from British International Investment (BII).

It was not immediately clear what valuation the investors are offering or what the company is seeking for the new round.

Mahindra told Reuters in a statement it has committed to investing $500 million (roughly Rs. 4,040 crore) in the electric SUV space along with BII, and that the two companies will work together to bring other “like-minded, climate focussed investors” in the EV unit.

The talks come weeks after Mahindra outlined an ambitious plan to launch five electric SUVs over the next few years and is targeting such models to make up 30% of its total annual SUV sales by March 2027. The carmaker’s first electric SUV is expected to be available for sale in January.

The funds will help the automaker build a war chest to compete against rival Tata Motors which dominates India’s nascent electric car market.

Tata, last year, raised $1 billion (roughly Rs. 8,080 crore) from TPG’s Rise Climate Fund for its EV unit at a valuation of $9.1 billion, making it the first major clean mobility deal in India.

In India, the world’s fourth-largest car market, electric models make up just 1 percent of total annual car sales of about 3 million units. The government wants to grow this to 30 percent by 2030 and is offering companies billions of dollars in incentives to build EVs and their components locally.

Mahindra has partnered with Germany’s Volkswagen to procure components like electric drivetrains and batteries for its electric SUVs, and the two are exploring joint vehicle projects, building battery cells locally and developing charging solutions. The Indian automaker has said it is open to making some investments in a battery cell maker to secure future supplies, and is also evaluating the need to set up manufacturing capacity for EVs, according to local media reports. Mahindra’s fundraising also comes at a time when there is growing investor interest in India’s clean mobility transition resulting in “more money chasing few assets”, one of the two banking sources said.

Some of the current investor interest is a spill over from Mahindra’s first fundraise, a third banking source said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Uber says Lapsus$-linked hacker responsible for breach

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 By: Reuters, Updated September 20, 2022

Sept 19 (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc said on Monday a hacker affiliated with the Lapsus$ hacking group was responsible for a cyber attack that forced the ride-hailing company to shut several internal communications temporarily last week.

Uber said the attacker had not accessed any user accounts and the databases that store sensitive user information such as credit card numbers, bank account or trip details.

“The attacker accessed several internal systems, and our investigation has focused on determining whether there was any material impact,” Uber said, adding that investigation was still ongoing.

The company said it was in close coordination with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice on the matter.

Friday’s cybersecurity incident had brought down Uber’s internal communication system for a while and employees were restricted to use Salesforce-owned office messaging app Slack.

Uber said the attacker logged in to a contractor’s Uber account after they accepted a two-factor login approval request following multiple requests, giving the hacker access to several employee accounts and tools such as G-Suite and Slack.

The hacking group, Lapsus$, has targeted firms including Nvidia , Microsoft Corp and Okta Inc, an authentication services company relied on by thousands of major businesses.

Lapsus$ could not be immediately reached for comment.

The hacker, who goes by the name “teapotuberhacker,” also reportedly claimed to leak early gameplay footage of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc’s muck-awaited game “Grand Theft Auto VI” on Monday.

The hacker had posted a message on the forum about seeking to “negotiate a deal” with the videogaming company.

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Musk can use Twitter whistleblower but not delay case: Judge

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By: Associated Press, September 8, 2022

Elon Musk will be able to include new evidence from a Twitter whistleblower as he fights to get out of his $44 billion deal to buy the social media company, but Musk won’t be able to delay a high-stakes October trial over the dispute, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick, the head judge of Delaware’s Court of Chancery, denied Musk’s request to delay the trial by four weeks. But she allowed the billionaire Tesla CEO to add evidence related to whistleblower allegations by former Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko, who is scheduled to testify to Congress next week about the company’s poor cybersecurity practices.

Twitter has sued Musk, asking the Delaware court to force him to go through with the deal he made in April to buy the company. Musk has countersued and a trial is set to start the week of Oct. 17. Musk’s legal team has argued that the allegations made by Zatko to U.S. officials may help bolster Musk’s claims that Twitter misled him and the public about the company’s problem with fake and “spam” accounts.

Zatko, a well-known cybersecurity expert known by his hacker handle “ Mudge,” said he was fired in January after raising flags about Twitter’s negligence in protecting the security and privacy of its users.

The judge’s ruling followed an hours-long hearing Tuesday at which attorneys for Musk and Twitter argued with each other about the merits of Zatko’s claims and the pace at which both sides are producing evidence ahead of the trial.

Twitter’s attorneys sought to downplay the relevance of Zatko’s allegations to the merger dispute, arguing that an initial 27-page complaint he sent to Twitter and a later retaliation clam made no mention of the “spam bot” issues that Musk has given as a reason to terminate the deal. Zatko “never said a word about spam or bots” until his July whistleblower complaint, said Twitter attorney William Savitt.

Twitter has argued for weeks that Musk’s stated reasons for backing out were just a cover for buyer’s remorse after agreeing to pay 38% above Twitter’s stock price shortly before the stock market stumbled and shares of the electric-car maker Tesla, where most of Musk’s personal wealth resides, lost more than $100 billion of their value.

McCormick, the judge, said Wednesday the newly published whistleblower complaint gave Musk’s team grounds to amend its countersuit but she declined to weigh in on the details.

“I am reticent to say more concerning the merits of the counterclaims at this posture before they have been fully litigated,” she wrote. “The world will have to wait for the post-trial decision.”

McCormick, however, sided with Twitter’s concerns that delaying the trial would make it harder for the company to get back to business. “I am convinced that even four weeks’ delay would risk further harm to Twitter too great to justify,” she wrote.

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