Sunday, April 2, 2017

Tesla makes record car deliveries; German car capital Stuttgart faces bleak days; Singaporeans spend half the day on gadgets

1 Record car deliveries for Tesla (BBC) In a record quarter, Tesla delivered just over 25,000 cars in the first three months of the year. The electric car maker said that was a 70% rise on the same period of 2016. It is a rebound for the US company after production problems late last year resulted in a 9% fall in deliveries in the fourth quarter.

Tesla was founded in 2003 and is controlled by entrepreneur Elon Musk, who also owns the space rocket firm, SpaceX. Last week China's Tencent Holdings bought a 5% stake in Tesla for almost $1.8bn.

That was a boost for the company which has been investing heavily in raising production and faces an expensive year, with the launch of the new Model 3, which is due to go on sale in the US this year priced at $35,000.

That would be significantly cheaper than Tesla's current models - the Model X, an SUV, and the Model S, a sporty saloon, both priced at more than $70,000. In the first quarter Tesla delivered 13,450 Model S cars and 11,550 of the Model X.

2 German car capital Stuttgart faces bleak days (John Vidal in The Guardian) The mood in Stuttgart, the car capital of Europe where the automobile was born in 1886 and where Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Bosch and many major auto suppliers have their HQs, is far from confident. All the social, technological and political trends point to a rapid demise of the polluting internal combustion engine, the coming of electric cars and the end to German car dominance.

In the wake of “Dieselgate”, when VW was found to have cheated emission figures, and the arrival on the car scene of digital companies such as Uber, Tesla and Google, all jockeying to introduce driverless and electric cars, the sedate German industry is waking up to the fact that it may be left behind by the US and China and that if it does nothing its cars could soon seem like antisocial relics.

“The industry is at a crossroads. German car companies have had their heads in the sand. They cannot compete with companies like Tesla, or with China, which will determine the future markets for the car. The Chinese market is 23 million cars a year. In Germany it is 3-4 million,” says Christian Hochfeld, director of Berlin-based transport thinktank Agora.

With one in three of all industrial workers in Stuttgart in the car industry, the unions see the coming decarbonised world as dangerous. An internal combustion engine has about 1,200 parts, an electric motor only 200, suggesting far fewer workers will be needed, says Frederic Speidel, head of strategy at IG Metall, Germany’s biggest union with more than 500,000 car workers.

Germany lags behind some European countries in the electric car stakes. Norway, with just 5 million people, has more than 100,000, the UK has more than 35,000 registered but Germany, with 80 million people, has only 25,000.

3 Singaporeans spend half their day on gadgets (Lin Yangchen in Straits Times) Like it or not, gadgets have become a key part of people's lives in Singapore, as consumers spend most of their waking hours on digital devices - 12hr 42 min a day on average.

This is according to survey findings released in February on the impact of digital devices - such as mobile phones, tablets, computers and video game consoles - on people. Accounting for the most time spent on a gadget in a day on average is the mobile phone, at 3hr 12min.

The top gadget people use here is also the smartphone, with 95 per cent saying so, and its effect on people is telling - almost 80 per cent of them check their smartphones when waking up in the morning or just before going to bed. While many - nearly 30 per cent - said that their sleep has been negatively affected by mobile gadgets, a similar number said there has been a positive impact.

Even so, about 70 per cent have enjoyed a boon in communications with their friends and are better able to complete personal errands and multitask, thanks to smartphones and tablets. The top online activity they engaged in using their gadgets daily was reading personal e-mails, with 90 per cent of respondents doing so.

But the heavy use of digital gadgets is not without issues. About a third of respondents admitted that they were addicted to smartphones and tablets. People are generally spending way too much time on their digital devices, said Dr Michael Netzley, academic director at Singapore Management University Executive Development. "The problem is not the technology. The problem is a lack of disciplined use of the technology", he says.

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