Will 2019 become the year of the electric car?
At next month’s auto show in Geneva, electric cars and concepts from Aston Martin’s Lagonda marque, Nissan, Audi, Mercedes, Honda and Kia will take center stage.
They’ll join a growing list of cutting-edge electronic vehicles, or EVs, entering the increasingly crowded segment this year.
The technology and design of these zero-emission vehicles has improved dramatically in recent years.
But a vexing challenge remains: convincing consumers to give up their internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and trucks.
Of the 17 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, 229,000, or 1.3 percent, were electric. Tesla’s Model 3 sedan accounted for over half (138,000) of EV sales, dominating the nascent market.
“The new electric vehicles are aimed directly at Tesla,” Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific, told ABC News. “The vast majority of them are in the Tesla price range. Tesla has real competitors.”
Jaguar, the British luxury automaker, introduced its challenger to Tesla last year: the all-electric I-Pace SUV. More than 600 units have been sold in the U.S. since last November, the first month of sales. Sleek and futuristic, with a minimalist, airy interior, the new $69,500 I-Pace is a departure from the British luxury carmaker’s traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
To stay competitive in the fast-moving EV segment, Jaguar needed to act quickly. Doing so required major investments and extreme dedication. There was no other choice.
“This is brand new territory for us,” David Larsen, Jaguar Land Rover’s general manager of product development, acknowledged to ABC News. “The I-Pace was designed from the ground up.”
Unsurprisingly, the largest markets for the I-Pace are California, Florida and Texas – areas with warm year-round climates.
“Cold weather can cut range significantly – by even one third,” Kim said. “Lithium ion batteries are subject to temperature sensitivity. In California this is not an issue. In polar vortex conditions, these vehicles wouldn’t get far.”
The I-Pace, for example, gets as much as 234 miles from one full charge of its high-tech lithium ion battery, according to the EPA. That figure can shift significantly for reasons other than temperature. Heating or cooling the vehicle, how fast one drives and even radio usage can drain the battery.
I-Pace customers can charge their vehicles at home with a wall-mounted Level 2 240-volt home EV charger. It takes nearly 13 hours for the high-voltage battery to get a full-charge when starting at zero percent. Connecting the I-Pace to a standard 120V electrical outlet with a cable also works; Jaguar estimates the SUV would get an extra 30 miles this way if charged overnight.
“The car is constantly optimizing battery efficiency,” Larsen said. “The I-Pace learns how you drive and your driving behaviors to estimate what your range will be.”
Larsen, though, never has to charge his I-Pace at home. Jaguar’s office in Mahwah, New Jersey, offers charging stations. But he acknowledged that “range anxiety” — the fear of running out of battery charge on the road — is real and owning an electric car can take some adjusting.
Stable fuel prices in the U.S. have also slowed demand for these pricey vehicles, Kim explained.
“We are used to 5 minutes at the pump and going,” he said. “It takes a long time to fill these things up. Faster charging will get us closer to the level of convenience with gasoline cars.”
Tesla’s Model S made driving an electric car cool and trendy. Federal tax credits also helped move the needle for some drivers, though many EVs are purchased “by people who are not price sensitive,” said Kim. Plus, the majority of EV owners are not die-hard environmentalists. Many Tesla owners are “technology enthusiasts,” he noted.
Teslas may be the EV of choice with Americans but the Nissan Leaf is the top-selling EV globally. And with more models on the horizon, these industry leaders may see their monopoly on the market shrink.
Audi’s e-tron SUV will begin deliveries to U.S. customers this spring. Porsche’s much-anticipated Taycan electric sports car will be unveiled later this year. Mercedes Benz will soon roll out its EQC SUV, aimed at the e-tron. There will also be an all-electric Mini from BMW.
Cadillac, GM’s luxury brand, will be retooled to focus on electric cars. Volkswagen plans to invest $800 million to build a new electric vehicle at its plant in Tennessee.
“We’ll continue to see more EVs come on the market,” Kim said. “In the next three to four years, the market will be saturated with EVs. There will be a lot more supply than demand.”
There are two problems, however, that could put the brakes on the market expansion of EVs, according to Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Cox Automotive.
“They still cost a lot more than ICE cars and charging takes a long time,” he told ABC News. “For a rancher in Montana, EVs are not the solution. These cars are for people who live in urban areas and don’t travel more than 100 miles or more a week.”
Brauer, who has driven the I-Pace, said he was “fascinated” with the SUV at first — until it was time to juice the battery.
“It doesn’t charge as well as it should, even with a Level 2 charger,” he said. “There were times when I thought it was charging but it wasn’t. It has everything going for it and it drives extremely well. In terms of battery, I was disappointed.”
Driving an electric car also requires some patience and practice. They’re built with regenerative brakes, allowing the vehicle to function with single pedal driving. When the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator, the car will come to a sudden stop, especially when the regen braking is set to high. The abruptness can be jarring and disorientating in the beginning.
“It’s a different driving experience,” Larsen admitted. “There’s a steep learning curve. The first time I drove the I-Pace I had to turn off the regen braking. It felt weird.”
Automakers want consumers to believe that traditional cars are antiquated. In reality, an EV future is decades away.
“Electric cars are not mainstream yet,” Kim said. “There’s a lot of momentum building behind electrification, especially in Europe and Asia. Automakers will push them even though they’re low volume vehicles. They need North American sales. Consumers have to buy into the advantages of having an EV.”
Nintendo is adding paid memberships to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
Nintendo plans to launch paid subscription memberships for its smartphone game Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp later this week, according to an in-game news update. The company says one plan lets you “appoint one lucky animal as your camp caretaker and get some extra help around the campsite,” while with another you’ll “receive fortune cookies and store your furniture and clothing items in warehouses.”
Nintendo released its latest mobile game, Mario Kart Tour, last month with a surprising optional subscription: a $4.99-a-month “Gold Pass” that unlocks a faster speed mode and gives users access to more in-game items. The company says it will reveal more information about the Animal Crossing memberships in videos that are due to be released on Wednesday.
Despite the hype surrounding Nintendo’s belated decision to start making smartphone games after years of pleas from investors, mobile remains a small part of the company’s overall business. Nintendo doesn’t break out specific mobile sales figures, but in its most recent earnings report said that first-half revenue for mobile and IP licensing totaled 19.9 billion yen. which is up 6.4 percent year-on-year but represents less than five percent of the company’s overall sales.
“[Mario Kart Tour] earnings are also off to a good start,” president Shuntaro Furakawa told investors at the financial results briefing after commenting on the game’s download figures. “In addition to randomized items, we have created opportunities to generate revenue such as the Gold Pass subscription to meet the various needs of consumers, allowing them to enjoy the game. By including these mechanics and multiplayer functionality, we want to make it an attractive application that will be enjoyed by consumers in the long-term.”
Nintendo’s mobile games have been hit and miss in terms of both their quality and their financial performance, but if subscriptions are a model that turns out to work, you can expect to see more of them in future titles.
By Sam Byford
Web & Domain Protection Software Market SWOT Analysis by Key Players: Leaseweb, Namecheap, SiteLock, Verisign, Sucuri
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Global Web & Domain Protection Software Market by Key Players: ZeroFOX, Comodo, Domain.com, GoDaddy, Register.com, Leaseweb, Namecheap, SiteLock, Verisign, Sucuri, Cloudflare, Pointer Brand Protection, Sasahost, WebARX, AppRiver, Rebel.com
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BY SYLVIA SANCHEZ
Social networks have been weaponized for the impeachment hearings
Impeachment hearings got underway in the House of Representatives this week, as you likely noticed from the wall-to-wall coverage. The process involves the sort of high-stakes, highly partisan events that naturally dominate social feeds. What television was to impeachment in the 1970s and 1990s, Facebook and Twitter — and YouTube and maybe TikTok — will be to impeachment in 2019.
The hearings on President Donald Trump’s apparent attempted bribery of Ukraine won’t be the first time a president has had to contend with, or benefit from, a hyper-partisan media. Conservative talk radio and Fox News were in full swing when Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, even if their rhetoric looks quaint by today’s standard. But the World Wide Web was in its infancy, and the world was then still innocent of algorithmically sorted news feeds, partisan bot armies, and state-sponsored meme warfare.
Not anymore. If the first day of hearings is any indication, social networks promise to play a powerful role in shaping the way that impeachment hearings are understood by Americans. They are also playing a powerful role in shaping the hearings themselves.
As Ryan Broderick documented at BuzzFeed, Republican lawmakers used their time during Wednesday’s hearing to promote discredited conspiracy theories that are popular on right-wing message boards:
There is one America that believes what was in former FBI director Robert Mueller’s report, that there was coordinated Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which helped the Trump campaign. But there is a second America that believes that in the summer of 2016, the Democratic National Committee colluded with Ukrainian nationals to frame the Trump campaign for collusion with Russia, implicating a Ukrainian American DNC contractor, Alexandra Chalupa, in the collusion and the California-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike in the subsequent cover-up.
This unfounded theory has been propped up by a 2017 Politico story; reporting from right-wing political commentator John Solomon published earlier this year in the Hill; Attorney General Bill Barr’s summer travels; the yearlong personal investigation into Ukraine conducted by Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer working for Trump; and coverage from Fox News and conservative news sites. All of that came into play during Wednesday’s hearing, sometimes implicitly and sometimes explicitly.
After Republican members of Congress promoted these various smokescreens, right-wing media universally dismissed the hearing — either as an absurd exercise led by clowns, or as an outrageous abuse of power. Brian Stelter described the atmosphere on cable news:
Here’s what else I heard: Wednesday’s hearing was a bust. It was all just hearsay. It was a “disaster” for the Democrats and a “great day” for the Republicans. Impeachment is “stupid.” Impeachment is “fake.” There’s nothing impeachable here. There’s no reason to hold hearings. This inquiry needs to stop right now.
The message was one-sided and overwhelming. Every host and practically every guest said the Republican tribe is winning and the Democrat tribe is losing. I’m sure the president loved watching every minute of it. That’s one of the reasons why this right-wing rhetoric matters so much — because it is reassuring and emboldening Trump.
Meanwhile, if you’re reading the New York Times or watching CNN, you’re getting the sense that the case against Trump is a slam dunk, with multiple people having heard the president directly pressure his ambassador to the European Union to pursue a bribery plot. As Ezra Klein wrote recently, this impeachment is “the easiest possible test case for can our system hold a president accountable.” And yet with something like 40 percent of the country living in an alternate media universe, the basic, actual facts of the case may never penetrate into their reality.
Of course, that fear was one of the best reasons for Democrats to initiate impeachment proceedings in the first place: Show people real witnesses answering important questions over a long enough period of time — train everyone’s eyes on the same set of facts — and maybe a greater consensus will emerge.
Time will tell if they succeed. In the meantime, impeachment has proven to be big business on Facebook — where politicians are taking out highly partisan ads consistent with their respective worldviews. Emily Stewart and Rani Molla have a thorough walkthrough of how impeachment is playing out on Facebook, with Trump and Sen. Elizabeth Warren using ads to fire up their base and build their donor rolls; Tom Steyer using impeachment as a signature issue to promote his presidential candidacy; and a spice company buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of pro-impeachment advertising because they spread farther on Facebook than non-impeachment ads, resulting in a better return on investment.
Much of the debate about whether Facebook should allow political advertising noted that it represents a small fraction of the company’s business. But as the Vox writers note, that doesn’t mean it’s an insignificant business:
Facebook itself has grown into a formidable political platform in recent years, with campaigns and outside groups spending $284 million on the platform during the midterm elections, according to a report by Tech for Campaigns, a nonprofit that helps political campaigns with digital tools. While that’s just a small share of Facebook’s overall ad revenue, it’s a growing chunk of what campaigns are spending to reach constituents.
As impeachment hearings intensify, it seems likely politicians’ spending on Facebook ads will increase. And a good number of those ads, like so much about impeachment in 2019, will seem to have been created in a parallel world. In many ways, they were.
read more theverge.com
By Casey Newton
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