Instead of the anticipated million-mile battery, we got the $25,000 car, at Tesla’s eagerly awaited Battery Day on Tuesday.
Elon Musk emphasised cutting the cost of batteries by more than half, rather than getting more miles out of them, meaning an electric car priced on a par with conventional vehicles becoming available in about three years.
Tesla will get there partly by taking control of all stages of manufacturing of its batteries, including the basic cells, processing the raw materials and even buying lithium deposits still in the ground.
As Richard Waters reports, analysts and experts were divided on the significance of the announcement. “It’s insane innovation,” said Pierre Ferragu, an analyst at New Street Research. “They’re demonstrating they’ve got a path to maintain their lead for the next decade.”
Changes to the chemistry in the batteries were only “incremental” steps, said Gene Berdichevsky, who worked on the battery pack for Tesla’s first vehicle. A bigger impact would come from “using engineering to drive down the cost of manufacturing”, he said. That includes a new way of building a car by casting it in three parts, with the two ends joined by a battery pack.
Investors are underwhelmed after all the advance hype and Tesla shares are down 8 per cent so far today. Lex points out that two years ago, Mr Musk had declared that a $25,000 car model was three years away.
There is much more excitement in China, according to this week’s #techAsia newsletter, where competition to Tesla is growing thanks to some big investments in carmakers.
The Nikkei Asian Review reports WM Motor is the latest to benefit, with a record $1.5bn funding round for an EV maker. Tencent, the Shanghai government and state-owned car company SAIC Motor were among those taking part.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has been active in Tesla’s California backyard. TuSimple has signed a deal to jointly develop self-driving trucks with VW’s Traton truck division, with the German company seeking to take advantage of the San Diego start-up’s advances in turning and night vision technology.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Social media deal reached after boycott
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have reached a deal with big advertisers on harmful content, offering some long-sought concessions to repair relations shattered by July’s boycott of social media platforms. Negotiated through the World Federation of Advertisers, the agreement for the first time sets common definitions for content such as hate speech and aggression and empowers external auditors to oversee the system, which will launch in the second half of 2021.
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2. ByteDance’s ‘dirty’ deal on TikTok
Chinese state media have denounced the deal between ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart over control of TikTok as “dirty and unfair”, saying Beijing had “no reason” to approve it. China Daily, the state-owned English language newspaper, said the deal was based on “bullying and extortion”, an apparent reference to demands made by President Trump.
3. Ant IPO frenzy
Brokers say investors are scrambling to take part at any price in Ant Group’s upcoming initial public offering in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The Chinese mobile payments player’s dual offering is shaping up to be one of the world’s largest ever equity raisings and could come as early as next month. The company is expected to offer at least 10 per cent of its shares and secure an overall market valuation of between $200bn and $300bn.
4. Apple opens first online Indian store
Apple’s online debut on Wednesday comes just in time for India’s Hindu festival season — the most lucrative time of the year for mobile phone companies. The iPhone maker is aiming to increase sales and manufacturing capacity in the country, as US companies seek to reduce their reliance on China.
5. Covid creates church-hopping Christians
With places of worship closed by the pandemic, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson reports on the rising number of people who have logged into virtual services. One report found that a third of practising US Christians “church-hopped” this way during the pandemic’s early months, part of what the UK’s former chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, calls “the moment of all moments for faith communities”.
Tech tools — Nokia’s £99 smartphone
HMD Global unveiled its new range of Nokia smartphones and accessories on Tuesday, with the bargain of the bunch being the 2.4. The Android handset features a fingerprint sensor and AI face unlock, a 6.5in HD+ screen and two-day battery life, all for £99 or €119. The top-of-the-range Nokia 8.3 5G also went on global sale on Tuesday, ahead of its appearance in the upcoming James Bond movie, No Time To Die, this November.