A Bosnian fan of both Ford trucks and Elon Musk’s Tesla could not just sit on his hands waiting for the electric carmaker to release its Cybertruck, expected from late 2021. Instead he came up with his own version of the futuristic vehicle.
It took eight months for IT specialists and engineers at Igor Krezic’s Stark Solutions company to disassemble a rugged Ford Raptor F-150 into its smallest parts and then transform it into petrol-powered vehicle that resembles a Cybertruck.
The first drive through the streets of the southern town of Mostar drew a lot of attention, Mario Coric, the company manager, told Reuters.
“Everybody was watching and half of them thought we made a tank, because people don’t know what the Cybertruck is. One girl even stopped and asked if this is the place where they are producing Tesla Cybertruck,” Coric said on Friday.
Krezic declined to speak to Reuters.
Though it may not look identical to Cybertruck’s functional prototype the pickup captures its spirit.
“The owner wanted us to combine two opposite sides, Ford and Cyber, because he is a fan of both Tesla and Ford, so we merged two souls into one,” he said.
“This one uses gasoline and Tesla uses electricity. We tried to copy as much as possible but our car is not the same size as the Cybertruck,” Coric added.
Coric said Stark Solutions was now trying to register the pickup to be able to drive it on roads but they were encountering problems because sharp vehicle edges like those seen on the Cybertruck are banned in Bosnia.
Tesla plans to build its $1.1 billion (roughly Rs. 8080 crores) Cybertruck factory near Austin, Texas, ending an intense competition with neighbouring Oklahoma, the carmaker’s chief executive Musk announced in July.
With a starting price of $39,000 (roughly Rs. 28,65,140), the Cybertruck resembles an armoured vehicle and takes aim at the heart of Detroit automakers’ profitable truck business.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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Mahindra Says to Explore Sourcing More Components From Other Companies to Boost EV Portfolio
India’s Mahindra and Mahindra will explore sourcing more components from other companies to boost its electric vehicle (EV) portfolio, its chief executive told Reuters.
“The world is moving towards a lot more partnerships. It’s better to source the best that’s out there, rather than do everything ourselves,” Shah said in an interview at the World Economic Forum summit at Davos.
“It’s VW (Volkswagen) at this stage and as we see similar strengths in other areas, we are open to looking at various components that we would bring in, and do what we are very good at in-house as well,” he added.
Although Mahindra is placing big bets on developing its EV portfolio, it will face fierce competition from India’s Tata Motors in a country where the clean mobility sector is picking up fast.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is offering companies billions of dollars in incentives to build EVs, as India looks to meet its climate change and carbon reduction goals.
India’s EV market represents only 1 percent of the country’s annual sales of about 3 million vehicles, with consumers still opting for fuel-guzzling cars that are far more affordable.
Tata dominates India’s EV market and last year raised $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,754 crore) from TPG for the business. MG, which is owned by China’s SAIC Motor, also has plans to raise funds to develop its EV business.
Shah said Mahindra will use “significant funds” for EVs and had them available, adding: “We always will be open to value creation opportunities”.
Mahindra has developed a portfolio of EV commercial vehicles in India, but the latest push is focussed on passenger cars, and more particularly, sports utility vehicles (SUVs).
“Our strike zone has been authentic SUVs, that’s where we are going to stay … we are not going to make EV sedans, no hatchbacks,” Shah said.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
Elon Musk Harassment Claim, Criticism of Democrats Threatens Tesla Brand: Report
Elon Musk has made a name for himself and Tesla by breaking the rules, but the billionaire’s latest comments on politics and a claim of sexual harassment against him that he said is untrue may hurt the brand in the eyes of some car owners and employees.
Musk on Thursday denied a report by Business Insider that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016, calling the person who made the claim a liar.
The previous day, the Tesla chief executive, in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter, said he would now vote Republican instead of Democrat and called the Democrats a “party of division and hate.”
Tesla also was cut this week from the widely followed S&P 500 ESG Index, which an index executive said was due to issues including claims of racial discrimination within the company and crashes linked to its vehicles.
Musk responded by calling such ratings around environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues a “scam,” and questioned how the index could drop an electric car firm while adding oil and gas producers.
Tesla could not immediately be reached to comment.
While Musk has made attention-grabbing headlines before — once calling one critic a “pedo guy” on Twitter — the latest controversies again raise the question whether his outspokenness will tarnish his likeability. And — since Musk is so closely tied to Tesla — whether that will that hurt the carmaker’s sales, especially in California.
The left-leaning state is Tesla’s largest market, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the company’s US retail registrations last year, according to Experian data. Tesla sales in California were up almost 70 percent in the year and it had a 6.5 percent share of all vehicles in the state, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.
#BoycottTesla was trending on Twitter on Friday and several people claimed they were canceling their car orders.
“In the past, I admired him for working to build a green business that’s transformational in energy use. But he is sadly becoming divisive as an attention seeking troll and I no longer trust that he is dedicated to the quality of his products. I will cancel my Tesla order,” said J Yeh, a Twitter user who describes herself as a lawyer who has lived in several cities including Los Angeles.
“You lost a potential customer,” a Twitter user named Ute Bauer from Germany said, adding in German: “To anyone reading this, cancel your orders.”
Reuters was unable to confirm if any Tesla orders had been canceled.
Many institutional investors may stand by Musk no matter what given the company’s strong performance, but that doesn’t mean some aren’t frustrated.
“They’re doing a lot of good things,” said Taylor Ogan, CEO of Snow Bull Capital, which owns Tesla shares. “It’s just disappointing when that is tainted by Elon Musk’s antics. Elon Musk is the best thing for Tesla and the worst thing for Tesla.”
One Tesla employee, who asked not to be identified, voiced frustration that Musk’s efforts outside Tesla appeared to be hurting the carmaker’s stock. “The company needs to do something to address the issue,” he said.
On Friday, Tesla shares dropped almost 9 percent, knocking about $66 billion (roughly Rs. 5,12,229 crore) off of Tesla’s stock market value and putting the stock at its lowest level since last August, with analysts citing “distraction risks” from the Twitter deal. Musk assured people on Thursday Tesla was constantly on his mind.
If discussion around water coolers at work focused on the sexual harassment claim against Musk rather than Tesla products, the end result could be “corrosive” for the Tesla brand, said John Smith, a former group vice president at GM who ran global product planning.
Tesla and SpaceX employees also could become “a little bit rattled and angry” because of Musk’s anti-Democratic party comments as technology company staff in California tend to be more liberal, said Jason Stomel, founder of tech talent agency Cadre.
Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA, which relies on Musk’s SpaceX to fly its astronauts to space, told Reuters on Thursday that Musk has a strong team of executives at the spacecraft maker and the agency’s partnership with the company was “going without a hitch.”
And Musk still has plenty of fans online. Twitter user @JVega103 said he was a Republican who owned a Tesla and just signed up for Tesla solar panels. “Thanks for everything you do,” the user tweeted.
That left some industry observers wondering whether Musk and Tesla would simply shake off these latest controversies, as they have in the past.
“Is Elon Musk now crazy, or crazy like a fox? He has earned the benefit of the doubt as he is often playing chess when the rest of us are playing checkers,” Northwestern University professor Erik Qualman said. “As Musk himself on ‘Saturday Night Live’ famously stated, ‘What, did you think I would be normal?’”
© Thomson Reuters 2022
Hyundai to Build First EV and Battery Manufacturing Unit in Georgia in 2023, Plans to Invest $5.54 Billion
South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group said on Friday it plans to invest about $5.54 billion (roughly Rs. 43,110 crore) to build its first dedicated full electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing facilities in the United States.
Hyundai will break ground on its new facility in Georgia in early 2023 and is expected to begin commercial production in the first half of 2025 with an annual capacity of 300,000 EV units, the company said in a statement.
The South Korean auto group said it intends to create about 8,100 jobs.
Hyundai Motor Group, which houses Hyundai and Kia, added that the battery manufacturing facility will be established through a strategic partnership, details of which will be disclosed at a later stage.
Reuters reported last week that Hyundai was in talks to build an EV manufacturing plant in the United States and had held discussions with Georgia officials.
The plant is a key part of Hyundai’s $7.4 billion (roughly Rs. 57,585 crore) planned investment in the United States through 2025 to foster future mobility. The state of Georgia expects to attract another $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,780 crore) in additional investment from non-affiliated Hyundai Motor Group suppliers on top of the investment.
Hyundai’s battery supplier, SK Innovation’s battery unit SK On, has built two adjacent plants in Georgia. The first, which mostly supplies Volkswagen, started production in the first quarter. The second, which will supply Ford Motor, is set to begin production early next year.
SK On will supply the battery for the Ioniq 7, a source previously told Reuters. SK On said it cannot comment on supply deals involving specific customers.
Hyundai’s US investment coincides with US President Biden’s arrival in South Korea on Friday.
The South Korean auto group, which is among the world’s five biggest automakers by vehicle sales, has production sites in Alabama and Georgia. In April, Hyundai Motor said it plans to invest $300 million (roughly Rs. 2,330 crore) to add EVs in its Montgomery assembly.
Separately, Hyundai Motor Group said Wednesday it plans to invest KRW 21 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,28,300 crore) through 2030 for the expansion of its EV business in South Korea.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
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