Should Apple Make Cars?

On Monday, Reuters reported that Apple’s self-driving car unit, in the shadows for years, is revving up to produce an electric passenger vehicle by 2024. The Silicon Valley colossus reportedly plans to implement innovative new battery tech to maximize range and minimize cost.

The takes were swift and they were hot

The bears were perhaps best summed up by Barron’s Senior Writer Al Root, who wrote, “making cars is hard.” The iCar haters say no amount of sleek minimalism can make up for the vast capital and manufacturing capacity it takes to churn out automobiles.

  • It took 17 years for Tesla to turn a profit making cars.
  • Skeptics of the move also pointed to the lower profit margins and valuations in the auto industry compared to tech.

Root suggested it would be wiser for Apple to pursue the route Alphabet’s Waymo has taken: developing self-driving tech to sell to automakers. Apple hasn’t ruled out that approach.

The bulls argue that while auto manufacturing takes a lot of cash, Apple is the rare company that has…a lot of cash ($192 billion at last count). Also, Apple investors are used to eye-popping growth—to keep its stock price on a roll, Apple needs to pursue new markets.

  • As for manufacturing logistics, Apple has managed to reliably move its products from factories to consumers, the bulls say, while Tesla hasn’t always checked that box.
  • Plus…you know you want to see what that design team comes up with.

Zoom out: While we don’t have a final verdict on the Apple car, we know it would be a challenge to Tesla. The EV maker’s shares slid in its first two days in the S&P 500 index, and Morgan Stanley analysts wrote that the news of Apple’s entry was “perhaps the most credible/formidable bear case for Tesla’s stock that investors have had to consider for some time.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems ready for a fight. He tweeted yesterday that when the Model 3 was floundering, he approached Apple CEO Tim Cook about an acquisition at about 10% of Tesla’s current price. Cook “refused to take the meeting,” Musk said.

Full Article by Eliza Carter


In California, little robot cars will deliver pizza, groceries medicine as a paid service in 2020

nuro r2


Nuro has an official stamp of approval to start its paid delivery service with autonomous vehicles, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California,” said Steve Gordon, DMV director, in a statement.
The deliveries will start in two communities near Nuro’s Mountain View headquarters.

Ford’s head of electric vehicles throws shade at Tesla, saying the new Mustang Mach-E’s ‘roof doesn’

Mustang Mach E


Ford’s electric-vehicles czar took a thinly veiled swipe at Tesla in an Autoblog interview published Friday, alluding to a string of issues reported by owners in recent years.
Darren Palmer, who’s helmed the automaker’s EV catch-up efforts since 2017, spoke to Autoblog about the new Mustang Mach-E, Ford’s first battery-powered car. It’s entering an increasingly crowded field that’s dominated by one name: Tesla.
“We want to pick up on early majority adoption,” Palmer told the website.

Aurora sends offers to majority of Uber ATG employees, but not the R&D lab

Autonomous vehicle company Aurora Innovation sent offers Thursday to more than 75% of employees at Uber Advanced Technologies Group, just a week after announcing plans to acquire the self-driving subsidiary, according to a source familiar with the post-merger integration plans.
Uber ATG Toronto, which employs about 50 people where the subsidiary conducted its research and development work, did not make the cut, according to a source. Nor has Uber ATG’s chief scientist Raquel Urtasun, who led the Uber ATG R&D team. It was previously confirmed that Uber ATG CEO Eric Meyhofer would not join Aurora once the deal closed. Until today, it was unclear if Urtasun, a University of Toronto professor and the Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision as well as the co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI, would be moving over to Aurora. Urtasun is considered a leading expert in machine perception for self-driving cars.
Of the 1,200 people who work at Uber ATG, more than 850 received emailed offers from Aurora co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson. In the email, an excerpt of which TechCrunch has viewed, Urmson said the decision of who to pick was difficult. He noted that the decisions were based on Aurora’s specific business needs such as areas of overlaps, relative impact and management reporting.

Aurora wouldn’t comment on the offers, but did confirm that Uber’s Toronto office was not being integrated into the newly combined company. An Uber spokesperson also confirmed that the Toronto R&D lab would not be integrated into the joint organization.
“As an independent company focused on our long-term growth and success, we must be thoughtful about where and how we spend resources. To deliver on our mission, we weave research into our development process and engineering work, rather than having a separate research and development team,” an Aurora spokesperson wrote in an email statement. “We have immense respect for Raquel Urtasun and her team. The impact they have made on both the ATG team, and the industry in general, is incredible. While she and her team will not be continuing on with Aurora, we wish them tremendous success.”
If every Uber ATG employee who received an offer accepts, it would more than double Aurora’s size. Before the acquisition was announced, Aurora had about 600 employees working out of its offices in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Texas. Uber ATG had offices in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
Aurora and Uber had been in talks for months before reaching a complex deal that will value the combined company at $10 billion. Aurora is not paying cash for Uber ATG, a company that was valued at $7.25 billion following a $1 billion investment last year from Toyota, DENSO and SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Instead, Uber is handing over its equity in ATG and investing $400 million into Aurora, which will give it a 26% stake in the combined company, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Shareholders in Uber ATG will now become minority shareholders of Aurora.
At the time the deal was announced, Urmson told TechCrunch that the next 60 days would be spent bringing the two teams together and “dispassionately looking at what is the technology that accelerates our first product to market and then amplifying that.”
by: Kirsten Korosec

Where Tech Workers Are Moving: New LinkedIn Data vs. the Narrative

There’s a narrative that the tech industry’s future lies in Texas and Florida. That tech workers and executives — sick of California’s oppressive policies and sky-high real estate costs — are moving en masse to Miami and Austin this year. That these cities are building dominant talent foundations that will persist for years due to the pandemic. That narrative is wrong.

The story crumbles when placed next to new LinkedIn data showing where tech workers are actually moving in 2020. The key beneficiaries of this year’s tech migration are less buzzy cities like Madison, Wisconsin; Richmond, Virginia; and Sacramento, California. These places don’t get much play in the news, but they’re attracting tech talent at significantly higher rates than they were last year. Austin, conversely, is gaining tech workers more slowly.

The new LinkedIn data, which Big Technology is first publishing here, examines several hundred thousand tech workers in the U.S. It breaks down the ratio at which they’re moving into a city vs. moving out, something LinkedIn calls the inflow/outflow ratio. The data ranges from April to October, comparing 2020 with 2019. It encompasses the core months people left their cities due to the pandemic.

The country’s biggest tech migration increase took place in Madison. The city was gaining 1.02 tech workers for each one that left last year, and it’s now gaining 1.77, a 74% jump. Sacramento and Richmond, meanwhile, were losing tech workers before the pandemic and have turned it around. Sacramento was adding a fraction of a tech worker — 0.87 — for each one that left last year, and now it’s adding 1.02. Richmond was adding 0.95 last year, and it’s adding 1.06 this year. Other Midwest cities, including Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Cleveland, Ohio, have significantly reduced the rate at which tech workers were leaving their cities.

These tech talent shifts could invigorate tech and startup activity in the communities experiencing the gains, leading to lasting economic benefit, LinkedIn chief economist Karin Kimbrough told Big Technology. “I could totally envision that people who have that skill, if they decide to remain in what might call the second cities or nontraditional tech hubs, they eventually could spin off into something where they build their own thing,” she said.

Austin, for its part, is not experiencing a pandemic-induced tech worker surge. Last year, Austin was gaining 2.06 tech workers for every one that left; now it’s down to 1.84, a drop of 10.78%. Though Austin is still gaining tech workers this year, the notion that 2020 was a watershed year for tech workers moving there is a myth.

Miami is another buzzy city among people trying to anoint the next Silicon Valley. “If you’re an entrepreneur, it is probably easier to raise a VC round in Miami right now than CA,” said venture capitalist Keith Rabois last week. But that might be because the supply of VCs outweighs the demand from tech talent. Miami is gaining tech workers faster this year than last but not dramatically, an increase of 3%, according to LinkedIn.


Now on to the ugly stuff. The only two cities in the country losing tech workers that previously were gaining them are New York City and San Francisco. New York’s change in inflow/outflow ratio is -20%. San Francisco’s is -35%. To put that in context, San Francisco was previously gaining 148 workers for every 100 that left; now it’s gaining only 96. These steep drops may only be temporary, however, as these cities will likely bounce back post-pandemic.

“There are some people who have moved and are going to stay in their new place and some who might be willing to come back in a couple of years to San Francisco or New York,” Kimbrough said. “I’m not calling time on these cities. They will definitely come back.”

Seattle, meanwhile, has kept up its surge of incoming tech workers during the pandemic. The city was adding 2.52 tech workers for each one it was losing before the pandemic, and it’s kept the ratio well above 2. I wondered if this meant Seattle was on its way to becoming the new tech capital of the U.S., thinking Amazon and Microsoft’s ascents might have something to do with it. But Kimbrough looked at LinkedIn’s data along with other housing data and poured cold water on the idea. “We believe a lot of these moves are likely short-term,” she said. “We expect to see tech talent returning to legacy tech hubs like the Bay Area when offices reopen.” In other words, beware the narrative.

Full Article

by Alex Kantrowitz (Big Technology)

Mortgage Rates Hit 15th Record Low This Year

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular long-term commitment after marriage, fell to a record low of 2.67%, according to Freddie Mac. That’s 1) the 15th record low this year and 2) the lowest since Freddie started tracking ~50 years ago.

  • FYI: Freddie Mac is a government-sponsored mortgage investor. To calculate the average rate, it compiles rates extended to “high-quality” borrowers by 80 lenders across the country.

Bargain basement rates have pushed folks who might otherwise have held off a few years into the homebuying ring. Compared to 2019, mortgage applications are up 26% and refinances 105%, per the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Economists expect that momentum to continue into 2021, especially after the Fed recommitted Wednesday to its bond-buying program (which includes mortgage-backed securities that have helped keep rates down).

While we’re here…amazing news for aspiring Chip and Joanna Gaineses. Returns on home flips are at a two-decade high, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. But good luck getting your hands on cheap property: Surging home sales have squeezed supply and inflated prices.

Full Article

by: Alex Hickey

Jaguar Vision Gran Turismo SV is the electric race car of the future

Jaguar Vision Gran Turismo SV concept

Jaguar on Wednesday unveiled a new concept car for the “Gran Turismo” video game, specifically the seventh edition of the popular racing sim that’s set for launch in 2021 for the Sony PlayStation 5.

The new concept is called the Vision Gran Turismo SV, and it’s an evolution of the Vision Gran Turismo Coupe concept Jaguar unveiled in 2019 for the “Gran Turismo Sport” video game.

In both cases the concepts are battery-electric cars, though the new SV concept ups the motor count by one for a total of four electric motors that deliver a combined 1,900 horsepower. The result is a car that Jaguar estimates will sprint to 60 mph from rest in 1.65 seconds and reach a top speed of 255 mph. Powering the motors is a lithium-ion battery, though Jaguar didn’t say how big the battery is or how much range it can deliver.

“We were given one objective: take everything that makes the Jaguar Vision GT Coupe so special—the performance, the handling and the soundtrack—and take it to another level,” Jamal Hameedi, engineering director at Jaguar Land Rover’s SVO department. You may recognize the name as Hameedi was chief engineering at Ford Performance until he left to join Jaguar in 2018.

Another key difference between the SV and earlier Coupe is that the newest concept has been designed strictly with racing in mind. As a result it draws inspiration from iconic Jaguar race cars, like the C-Type and D-Type for its curved fenders, and the XJR-14 for its active rear wing. Jaguar said the SV concept has a drag coefficient of 0.398 Cd, which is relatively low by race car standards, yet still generates over 1,000 pounds of downforce at a speed of 200 mph.

While the Vision Gran Turismo SV and previous Coupe concept aren’t intended for production, elements of the designs may appear on future electric vehicles from Jaguar, including a potential electric F-Type. Jaguar’s sole EV at present is the I-Pace crossover SUV but the automaker is working on an electric XJ that was originally due in 2020 but has been pushed back to 2021.

source: Full Article

Armored Ferrari 458 Speciale Shrugs Off Bullets Without Shedding Speed

Outwardly, nothing about this Ferrari 458 Speciale is amiss. It is the incredibly desirable, high-performance, and lightweight predecessor to the 488 Pista and whatever insane(r) performance variant Maranello has cooking up for today’s F8 Tributo. However, if you were to, say, try shooting at this specific 458 Speciale with the intent of harming its occupants (and you’re not packing, say, a rocket launcher), you might be surprised when the mid-engine supercar shrugs off the attack. That’s because the red Ferrari pictured here is armored.