Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Eurozone shows growth despite Brexit fears; Airbnb starts own listings; Tesla claims 'milestone' car battery
1 Eurozone shows growth despite Brexit fears (San Francisco Chronicle) Business activity across the 19-country eurozone grew at a steady, moderate pace in August as the region continued to show little concern about the impact of a British exit from the European Union.
A gauge of activity in the services and manufacturing sectors in the eurozone, the so-called purchasing managers' index, rose slightly to a seven-month high of 53.3 points from 53.2 in July. The index published Tuesday by IHS Markit is on a 100-point scale, with the 50 mark separating contraction from growth in activity.
The result echoes the steady growth seen in July and confirms that businesses in the eurozone aren't overly worried about Britain's June 23 vote to leave the EU, the broader 27-country trading bloc that includes the eurozone.
Britain has yet to trigger the clause that will start negotiations on the nation's exit terms. It could take months for the country to invoke that clause and when it does, the actual departure will involve years of negotiations.
2 Airbnb starts own listings (Francesca Perry in The Guardian) Since its inception, Airbnb – the website that allows people to rent out their homes for holiday accommodation – has been a contentious issue in cities. It’s a cost-saving convenience for travellers and a money-making opportunity for homeowners, yet a source of ire to scores of traditional hotels and guest-houses.
Some have accused the global home-sharing initiative – which operates in 34,000 cities – of playing a part in gentrifying neighbourhoods, as more Airbnb listed properties means fewer available homes to live in, thus pushing up prices.
But could Airbnb be finding another way to influence cities? Earlier this August the multi-billion-dollar company launched a brand new initiative called Samara. It claims it is an innovation and design studio that “generates new ideas and building products that serve the Airbnb community” and “explores new attitudes to sharing and trust”.
So far, so vague. Samara will apparently focus on architecture, product design, software engineering, and new economic models – but the design studio has started with a house for a Japanese village.
Samara says the rental income from stays at the house will be used to “strengthen the cultural legacy and future of the town”, which has struggled as young people move away to cities – an issue that has affected many of Japan’s rural communities as the country’s population ages, shrinks and urbanises.
Abandoned houses blight many of Japan’s rural towns; in 2013 there were 8.2 million vacant houses across the country, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Samara’s ambition is to take the Yoshino Cedar House model – a listing run by and for the benefit of a community, designed as a shared space – and roll it out to similar struggling rural communities around the world to boost localised tourism and reinvigorate economies. ssentially, it seems Airbnb would build its own listings.
Many websites reporting on Samara have announced that Airbnb is branching out into urban planning. As it stands though, Samara’s work is firmly targeting a rural context. So far, this is no urban planning; I somehow doubt we’ll see Airbnb-designed cities any time soon.
3 Tesla claims ‘milestone’ car battery (BBC) Tesla Motors has unveiled a new battery pack for the performance versions of its Model S and X cars that will extend the range and mean faster acceleration. Elon Musk, chief executive of the electric car maker, hailed the upgraded battery as a "profound milestone".
He said the battery cell chemistry is the same, but the reconfigured product stored more energy in the same space. Tesla, which this month posted a steeper-than-expected loss, is adding a new sedan car to its sports line-up. Mr Musk claimed that the new 100-kilowatt hour battery pack means high-end versions of the Model S sedan, called the P100D, will be the world's fastest accelerating car in production.
It will do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds. He said there were faster cars on the market, but these were limited-run vehicles, while the Tesla is aimed at the mass market, he said. Mr Musk said that in cool weather, a driver could travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles - a nearly 400 mile drive - without recharging.