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Tesla's Model 3 is among the top 10 choices for car buyers in 2020, according to Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization released its "Top Picks" of the year on Thursday, and it included Tesla's most affordable vehicle alongside cars from automakers including Toyota, Subaru, Honda, Kia and Lexus. Consumer Reports also specifically called out a worry about the Model 3 that "Autopilot, an optional system on the vehicle, does not require the driver to stay engaged, creating safety concerns." Tesla has always positioned Autopilot as a driver-assist feature that still requires a driver to be ready to take over control at a moment's notice, but critics have suggested its implementation can lead to misuse resulting in inattentiveness.
Tesla Inc got approval from a German court on Thursday to continue to cut down forest near the capital Berlin to build its first European car and battery factory, in a defeat for local environmental activists. The court said in a statement it had rejected urgent applications to stop the land being cleared of trees from several environmental groups, adding its ruling was final. The U.S. electric carmaker announced plans last November to build a Gigafactory in Gruenheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg that surrounds Berlin, a decision that was initially lauded as a vote of confidence in Germany.
(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc.’s electric cars raced up Consumer Reports’s latest auto brand rankings, inching closer to leader Porsche.Tesla jumped eight spots -- more than any other brand -- to No. 11 in an annual report based on road tests, reliability data, owner satisfaction surveys and safety performance. Consumer Reports ranked Tesla higher than any U.S. brand and made the Model 3 sedan a top pick for the first time, a designation the nonprofit bestows to only 10 cars, SUVs and trucks per year.“The vehicles perform phenomenally,” Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing, said of Teslas in a phone interview. “People just love these vehicles.”The acclaim is a major coup for Elon Musk, who eschews the traditional advertising that costs major automakers billions. Many car buyers consult Consumer Reports for big-ticket purchases because it’s built a reputation for thorough and meticulous testing. The organization buys all the vehicles it tests and doesn’t accept any marketing dollars from manufacturers.The Model 3 didn’t perform as well when it first launched in 2017 because, as with the Model S sedan, Tesla was making regular changes to the car on the fly, Fisher said. While the company made some tweaks using over-the-air software updates, others involved changes to hardware that tend to cause problems with reliability. Those cars have stabilized and continue to help the brand overcome poor scores for the Model X sport utility vehicle.Porsche climbed two spots in the rankings to knock Subaru out of first place, though two of the Japanese brand’s models were top picks: the Forester SUV and Legacy sedan. Toyota Motor Corp. dominated those honors by winning four designations with its namesake models -- the Supra sports car, Avalon sedan, Prius hybrid and Corolla small car -- and one with Lexus for the RX SUV.Hyundai Motor Co.’s Genesis luxury brand finished second, unchanged from a year ago. The Korean brand has been on a roll in several influential surveys, leading J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study each of the last two years. Its first SUV model, the GV80, goes on sale this summer.“Genesis is a luxury brand that competed extremely well right out of the gate,” Fisher said. “It reminds you of 1989 when Lexus arrived.”Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln line was the second-best American car brand, placing 13th. U.S. automakers were otherwise relegated mostly to the bottom third of the rankings. The Ford brand fell to 23rd, and General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet and GMC placed 25th and 26th.Cadillac’s continued reliability problems dropped the brand to 29th. The Fiat brand again finished last among 33 brands, while Jeep, the cash-cow brand within Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, didn’t fare much better.Owners like Jeep’s styling, but the SUVs continue to have ride, handling and quality issues that contributed to the brand slipping two spots to 31st.“Take the badge off and look what do they do, how do they handle, what’s the reliability,” Fisher said. “They just are not competitive.”To contact the reporters on this story: David Welch in Southfield at firstname.lastname@example.org;Keith Naughton in Southfield, Michigan at email@example.com;Gabrielle Coppola in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at email@example.com, Chester DawsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk bought 13,037 Tesla Inc. shares for $10 million on Feb. 14, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Musk purchased the shares at an average of $767 each, raising his holding to 34.1 million, or 18.5% of the Palo Alto-based company. Tesla’s shares have soared more than doubled this year and closed at a record high of $917.42 on Wednesday.The rally, initially fueled by a surprise third-quarter profit, has left Tesla with a market value greater than that of General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV combined. Traders are realizing the dangers of betting against the company: roughly 15% of its shares available for trading are short, the lowest in at least a year, according to S3 data.Musk was in Shanghai at the start of the year to open Tesla’s first manufacturing facility outside the U.S. The coronavirus outbreak in China led to a halt in production at the facility, though operations restarted last week.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Harry Suhartono in Jakarta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at email@example.com, Will DaviesFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- People are starting to ask if this will be remembered as the month real euphoria broke out in the bull market.It’s showing up in the Nasdaq Composite Index, headed for its best February in 20 years with a hodgepodge of companies doubling in less than seven weeks. At almost 38 times earnings, the gauge’s price-earnings ratio is now effectively twice as high as it was in 2011, data compiled by Bloomberg show.The market’s tenor is uncannily positive. The S&P 500, also within spitting distance of its best February since 2000, has posted back-to-back down days just once all year. The S&P 500 Technology Index has eked out a new high every two days, on average.“It’s unbelievable, the rate at which the market in general and technology stocks in particular are going up,” said Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “There is no stopping the sector, at least at this point. Are investors concerned about valuations? Maybe, but that’s not strong enough to stop them from buying.”Signs of investor exuberance, already elevated, are multiplying. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. had its second rally of at least 20% in three days, an advance that has drawn comparisons with Tesla Inc. Then there’s Tesla itself, which has rallied 119% in 2020. It’s up almost 15% this week.Elsewhere in the Nasdaq Composite, Bioxcel Therapeutics Inc. and ACM Research Inc. have also at least doubled this year.The standard explanations get trotted out. Improving economic fundamentals, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. market’s defensive status amid a global health scare. U.S. equities are a “safe haven,” Lori Calvasina, head of U.S. equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a recent note.Another view: “The most compelling bull case right now is that there is no credible bear case,” UBS Global Wealth Management strategists led by David Lefkowitz said in a note to clients. Stocks continue to look attractive versus low bond yields, they said, and the earnings yield on stocks is “still quite appealing.”As nuts as they are, shares look tame compared with options. Investors bought to open almost 24 million call options last week, a record amount, according to Sundial Capital’s Jason Goepfert. That as selling of calls to close dropped nearly 30% from the level a couple of weeks ago. The difference between the two is a record.Options activity in individual stocks has also been startling. About 630,000 put and call options on Virgin Galactic changed hands on Tuesday, almost twice as much as its previous record on Friday. Total options volume on Tesla reached a record of 1.3 million contracts earlier this month.Technology stocks, which have spearheaded an earnings advance in the S&P 500 for most of the past decade, reported 6.2% earnings growth in the fourth quarter. The group is expected to post a 14% profit expansion in 2020, the second-highest after energy stocks.And if fund managers’ polls are any guide, investors expect the bullish sentiment in U.S. stocks to last. Fund managers polled by Bank of America strategists said they expect further upside for U.S. stocks, with their bullish conviction underscored by bets that 10-year Treasury yields will stay within the 1.4% to 2% range in the first half of the year. Investors’ average cash balance dropped to 4% from 4.2%, the lowest level since March 2013, the bank said.“The mind shift has changed from selling bad news to buying the weakness and that is why with things like coronavirus, the market’s peak-to-trough down 3.5%,” Andrew Slimmon, managing director and senior portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, said by phone. “Investors are buying into the weakness -- it’s a very consistent pattern.”To contact the reporters on this story: Elena Popina in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Vildana Hajric in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at firstname.lastname@example.org, Chris Nagi, Richard RichtmyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Researchers were able to trick a Tesla Inc. vehicle into speeding by putting a strip of electrical tape over a speed limit sign, spotlighting the kinds of potential vulnerabilities facing automated driving systems.Technicians at McAfee Inc. placed the piece of tape horizontally across the middle of the “3” on a 35 mile-per-hour speed limit sign. The change caused the vehicle to read the limit as 85 miles per hour, and its cruise control system automatically accelerated, according to research released by McAfee on Wednesday.McAfee says the issue isn’t a serious risk to motorists. No one was hurt and the researcher behind the wheel was able to safely slow the car.But the findings, from 18 months of research that ended last year, illustrate a weakness of machine learning systems used in automated driving, according to Steve Povolny, head of advanced threat research at McAfee. Other research has shown how changes in the physical world can confuse such systems.The tests involved a 2016 Model S and Model X that used camera systems supplied by Mobileye Inc., now a unit of Intel Corp. Mobileye systems are used by several automakers though Tesla stopped using them in 2016.Tests on Mobileye’s latest camera system didn’t reveal the same vulnerability, and Tesla’s latest vehicles apparently don’t depend on traffic sign recognition, according to McAfee.Tesla didn’t respond to emails seeking comment on the research.“Manufacturers and vendors are aware of the problem and they’re learning from the problem,” Povolny said. “But it doesn’t change the fact that there are a lot of blind spots in this industry.”To be sure, the real-world threats of such an occurrence today are limited. For one, self-driving cars are still in the development phase, and most are being tested with safety drivers behind the wheel. Vehicles with advanced driver-assist systems that are available now still require the human to be attentive.And the McAfee researchers were only able to trick the system by duplicating a certain sequence involving when a driver-assist function was turned on and encountered the altered speed limit sign. Manufacturers are also integrating mapping technology into systems that reflect the proper speed limit.“It’s quite improbable that we’ll ever see this in the wild or that attackers will try to leverage this until we have truly autonomous vehicles, and by that point we hope that these kinds of flaws are addressed earlier on,” Povolny said.In a statement, Mobileye said human drivers can also be fooled by such a modification and that the system tested by the researchers was designed to assist a human driver and not to support autonomous driving.Robust Redundancies“Autonomous vehicle technology will not rely on sensing alone, but will also be supported by various other technologies and data, such as crowd sourced mapping, to ensure the reliability of the information received from the camera sensor and offer more robust redundancies and safety,” the company said.The McAfee research follows similar academic work in what’s known as adversarial machine learning, a relatively new field that studies how computer-based learning systems can be manipulated. Researchers in 2017 found that placing four black and white stickers in specific locations on a stop sign could “trick” a computer vision system into seeing a 45 mile per hour speed limit sign, for example.The issue isn’t specific to Tesla or Mobileye, but is a broader weakness inherent in the advanced systems powering self-driving cars, said Missy Cummings, a Duke University robotics professor and autonomous vehicle expert, and researchers have shown that potentially serious malfunctions can be caused by changing the physical environment without accessing the system itself.“And that’s why it’s so dangerous, because you don’t have to access the system to hack it, you just have to access the world that we’re in,” she said.Cummings said McAfee’s findings illustrate why autonomous cars should be subjected to a “vision test” to evaluate whether self-driving systems can safely detect and respond to real-world situations created by other vehicles, pedestrians and other road users.Safety advocates have also urged U.S. auto safety regulators and lawmakers to include such an evaluation among other requirements in new automated vehicle legislation being developed in Congress.(Updates with context on automated vehicle legislation in penultimate paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Wall Street's newest cult stock appears to be Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc , as investors drive shares of the space tourism company to sky-high levels and short sellers dig in their heels. Virgin Galactic jumped 23% during Wednesday's session, adding to a rally that has seen the money-losing company surge over 400% since early December. "I’m calling it Tesla Junior because it's showing all the signs of becoming a cult stock on the long and on the short side," said Ihor Dusaniwsky, a managing director at financial analytics firm S3 Partners.
The hydrogen fuel cell market has a serious player emerging in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp., which is jumping into the hydrogen truck market to compete with Nikola, Toyota and Tesla
As stocks hit new all-time highs to finish 2019, the professional money managers were busy positioning their portfolios for 2020. What were they buying, and selling, heading into the new year?
(Bloomberg) -- Tesla Inc.’s potential success in energy generation and storage will be the next big thing to fuel the rally that’s already caused the stock to almost triple in the past year, analysts at Piper Sandler Cos. said as they increased their price target by more than 27%.Piper raised its target to $928 from $729, making it the most bullish estimate among among those tracked by Bloomberg. The shares -- which have more than doubled in the past four months -- rose as much as 7.8% in New York on Wednesday and touched a high of $925.“It’s easy to forget that TSLA sells batteries and solar power products; after all, the segment was only 6% of sales in 2019,” analysts Alexander Potter and Winnie Dong wrote in a note Tuesday. “But management says that the solar+storage business will one day rival the Automotive segment, and if this is true, then investors will eventually need to pay attention.”In order to gauge Tesla’s chances of success in generating and storing solar power, the analysts recently installed a solar-based system to use for charging a Model X and the results have been “illuminating” so far, they wrote in the note. Piper’s new price estimate implies an 8.1% advance from the last close.The brokerage raised its Tesla target price twice in January, citing in part the company’s growth potential in China.The electric-car maker started delivering its China-built Model 3 sedans to local customers last month, a year after its first factory outside the U.S. broke ground. Last year, Tesla delivered a record 367,500 vehicles globally.The shares gained 7.3% on Tuesday after analysts at Morgan Stanley and Sanford C. Bernstein boosted targets. While Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas reiterated his sell-equivalent recommendation, he nearly doubled his bull case for the shares, citing Tesla’s potential to become a key battery supplier for electric vehicles.(Updates share move in second paragraph.)\--With assistance from Dana Hull, Beth Mellor and Esha Dey.To contact the reporter on this story: Lianting Tu in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Nagi at firstname.lastname@example.org, Margo Towie, Richard RichtmyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com - Our Senior Analyst Jesse Cohen gives us his top five things to know in financial markets on Wednesday, February 19, including:
(Bloomberg) -- Outside the German town of Arnstadt, workers for China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) are hustling to build Europe’s biggest electric-car battery plant.The site, which covers an area equivalent to about 100 football fields, previously housed one of the continent’s largest solar-panel factories. During a visit in October, wooden crates filled with surplus equipment were stacked up outside the metal-clad structure to make way for car-battery-making equipment. Roaring bulldozers swarmed a nearby lot to prep for construction of a new building.The $2 billion project—one of about a half dozen battery factories under construction in Germany alone—worries European policymakers, who are desperate to ensure their auto industry doesn’t lose competitiveness in the transition to electric vehicles. EV sales in Europe are expected to jump to 7.7 million in 2030 from just under half a million in 2019, according to forecasts from BloombergNEF. Those vehicles will mainly be powered by batteries from Asian manufacturers like CATL, unless European companies fight back and build a local supply chain.EVs and clean transportation are at the heart of the European Union’s Green Deal, a more than €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) European Commission policy initiative aimed at making the EU carbon neutral by 2050. The plan includes replacing large power plants with smaller, more local, renewable energy sources while eliminating combustion engines in buses, cars, and trucks. After betting on dirty diesel for too long, European politicians and the heads of Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW are vowing to build a greener supply chain for all of those vehicles.“If we let China own the battery, then we lose out on the centerpiece of electric cars,” says German Deputy Economy Minister Thomas Bareiss. “I’m not sure that’s the best approach for our auto industry.”Europe has only a patchwork of small battery players. The biggest chunk of the value of a European-made electric car belongs to Asia—China, Korea, and Japan account for more than 80% of the world’s EV battery production, and companies such as CATL, LG Chem, and Samsung SDI control Europe’s biggest battery factories.To change that, the European Commission set up the Battery Alliance initiative. In December it approved €3.2 billion in aid for projects approved or currently under way at 17 companies, including BASF, BMW, and Fortum. The measure is meant to encourage greater investment in factories by these and other European companies.National governments are also committing large sums to battery efforts, especially in Germany. In early February its economy minister, Peter Altmaier, announced a €5 billion project for battery cells in Germany and France. Altmaier has been a leading proponent of developing a local battery sector. The goal, as he sees it, is to build “the best and most sustainable batteries in Germany and Europe.” There is no other option, he has said, if its carmakers are to succeed.European players, including Belgian materials technology company Umicore N.V. and German chemical company BASF SE, make battery materials from catalysts to cathodes. But there is little mining of key ingredients like lithium, and no capacity to turn those resources into high quality vehicle batteries. A desire to bring lithium and other materials closer to the production line is partly driving the efforts. “Lithium hydroxide doesn’t travel well,” say Andreas Scherer of AMG Advanced Metallurgical Group NV. “It doesn’t like to sit in a bag in the belly of a ship for six weeks—that’s bad for quality.”Stringent environmental rules and community opposition to more mines could slow the momentum. Land owners and environmental groups fear the resulting emissions and pollution. Finland’s Keliber Oy in November postponed its planned initial public offering and the construction of a lithium mine on appeals against its environmental permit.Some countries are pushing ahead. Support from the European Commission to mine battery metals—and the potential riches—motivated Dietrich Wanke to trade a career in Australian mining for the green hills of the Lavant valley in Wolfsberg, Austria. Wanke is the Chief Executive Officer of European Lithium, a startup mining company that aims to become a supplier of raw material for batteries. It operates from an abandoned test tunnel in Austria, where government geologists looking for uranium in the 1980s found lithium instead.“We won’t be able to produce the absolute cheapest material. It is clearly a commodity mined in Europe, according to European laws and environmental standards,” Wanke says. “It must be seen as a unique product, contributing to the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in Europe.”The Wolfsberg project is traditional hard-rock mining, with the ensuing environmental consequences. Another startup, or junior, miner, Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd., claims it will produce the material with no CO₂ emissions by adding lithium-extraction facilities to existing geothermal power plants feeding on underground reservoirs in southern Germany. The method is similar to what Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is researching in California’s Salton Sea. “By 2028, forecasters see Europe alone needing more lithium than is being produced in the entire world today,” says Vulcan Energy’s managing director, Francis Wedin. Still, the efforts now could be too little, too late. “European manufacturers have dragged their feet,” says Jose Lazuen, senior automotive practice analyst at Roskill. “Asian producers started taking positions in Europe two or three years ago, because they knew Europeans would need batteries.”While others are talking, the Chinese are busy building out capacity in Arnstadt for what’s shaping up to be another clean energy fight. The battleground is a former solar panel factory where two previous German owners failed to compete against low-price competition from China. As Germany’s deputy economy minister, Bareiss, says, “It’s about staying in the game and playing a role in a critical technology.”\--With assistance from Ewa Krukowska and Birgit Jennen.To contact the authors of this story: Laura Millan Lombrana in Madrid at email@example.comChris Reiter in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.orgRichard Weiss in Frankfurt at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Dimitra Kessenides at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.