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BMW unveils iX SUV, its electric flagship set to challenge might of Tesla

Nov 11: BMW AG on Wednesday revealed a fully battery-powered sport utility vehicle (SUV) called the 'iX'. The vehicle is planned to go on sale in the United States in early 2022 and will rival the likes of Tesla Model X and other similar segment cars.

The German automaker said that the iX SUV will have a driving range of 300 miles (480 km) which is comparatively less in comparison to the estimated driving range of the Tesla Model X Long Range, which stands at 371 miles in the United States. BMW claims that drivers would be able to add 75 miles of range in ten minutes at a fast-charging station.

As per BMW, the iX SUV would be comparable in size to the current BMW X5 SUV and will have similar outer dimensions. For the record, the X5 is a proper huge SUV which competes against the Audi Q7. Inside the cabin, the iX will feature a dashboard with a sweeping, curved screen.

“The BMW iX shows how we can give new technologies a very modern and emotionally engaging design. The car is technologically highly complex, but it feels very clear and uncomplicated," says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The BMW iX offers a mobile living space in which people will feel at ease and the car’s intelligence is always available without becoming obtrusive."

It is slated to go into production at BMW Dingolfing plant from the second half of next year as the company’s new technology flagship.

The battery powered SUV segment seems to be heating up with new upcoming products. Tesla's Model X already has competition from Chinese startup Nio, and General Motors Co's Cadillac brand recently unveiled a mid-size electric SUV called the Lyriq, expected to launch in 2022. Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG have electric premium models in the works. Ford Motor Co's Mustang Mach-E is aiming for a slice of the performance enthusiast market that BMW defined decades ago.

Tesla to bring in smaller car to woo more buyers

Sept 28: Elon Musk knows the significance of having an affordable offering to ramp up sales figures and the Tesla CEO has been vocal about his intentions of having a product that is smaller and cheaper than the Model 3, currently the cheapest offering from the California-based company.

As such, he recently once again underlined that the price of Model 3 won't be slashed in a bid to attract more buyers and instead, there would be a car smaller to it which could sit as a more affordable option for those on a tight budget.

Tesla has quite the lead in the world of electric personal mobility and its cars have become quite iconic in contemporary times. But the cars are not exactly affordable even if Model 3 has managed to invade and conquer the mass-market EV segment to a large extent. Sales figures have been climbing despite challenges galore and Musk may now be looking at coming up with a brand new offering that is cheaper than anything Tesla has rolled out thus far.

Musk has confirmed that two separate new vehicle programs are being planned in Shanghai and Berlin. The question now is not really what but when, even if Musk has given a rough timeline of three years.

Tesla has hands full now as it only recently began rolling out Model Y SUVs and is next gearing up to drive in the much-talked-about Cybertruck which would be followed by an electric truck - Tesla Semi, and Roadster.

The schedule and upcoming product lineups mean that those waiting for the smallest Tesla ever may have to wait rather long.

On the flipside though, Musk has an unconventional business style and while he is open and active on Twitter, may also spring a surprise when least expected. He is well aware that rivals like Volkswagen are upping the game and to stay ahead, the need for compact and cheaper EVs would be the need. As such, and even if there's no schedule confirmation, a more affordable EV from Tesla may be sooner rather than later.

Blaming high taxes, Toyota halts India expansion

NEW DELHI, Sept 15: Toyota Motor Corp. won't expand further in India due to the country's high tax regime, a blow for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who's trying to lure global companies to offset the deep economic malaise brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government keeps taxes on cars and motorbikes so high that companies find it hard to build scale, said Shekar Viswanathan, vice chairman of Toyota's local unit, Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

The high levies also put owning a car out of reach of many consumers, meaning factories are idled and jobs aren't created, he said.

"The message we are getting, after we have come here and invested money, is that we don't want you," Viswanathan said in an interview. In the absence of any reforms, "we won't exit India, but we won't scale up."

Toyota, one of the world's biggest carmakers, began operating in India in 1997. Its local unit is owned 89% by the Japanese company and has a small market share -- just 2.6% in August versus almost 5% a year earlier, Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations data show.

Toyota says that increasing taxes put owning a car out of reach of many consumers, meaning factories are idled and jobs aren't created

In India, motor vehicles including cars, two-wheelers and sports utility vehicles (although not electric vehicles), attract taxes as high as 28%. On top of that there can be additional levies, ranging from 1% to as much as 22%, based on a car's type, length or engine size. The tax on a four-meter long SUV with an engine capacity of more than 1500 cc works out to be as high as 50%.

The additional levies are typically imposed on what are considered to be "luxury" goods. As well as cars, in India that can include cigarettes and sparkling water.

India is planning to offer incentives worth $23 billion to attract firms to set up manufacturing, people familiar with the matter said last week, including production-linked breaks for automakers. International automakers have struggled to expand in the world's fourth-biggest car market.

General Motors Co. quit the country in 2017 while Ford Motor Co. agreed last year to move most of its assets in India into a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. after struggling for more than two decades to win over buyers. That effectively ended independent operations in a country Ford had once said it wanted to be one of its top three markets by 2020.

General Motors quit the country in 2017 while Ford has has said that it will move most of its assets in India into a joint venture with Mahindra

Such punitive taxes discourage foreign investment, erode automakers' margins and make the cost of launching new products "prohibitive," Viswanathan said.

"You'd think the auto sector is making drugs or liquor," he said. Toyota, which also has an alliance with Suzuki Motor Corp. to sell some of Suzuki's compact cars under its own brand, is currently utilizing just about 20% of its capacity in a second plant in India.

Taxes on electric vehicles, currently 5%, will probably also go up once sales increase, Viswanathan said, referring to what he says has become a pattern with successive governments in India.

While discussions are ongoing between ministries for a reduction in taxes, there may not any immediate agreement on an actual cut, India's Heavy Industries Minister Prakash Javadekar said earlier this month.

A finance ministry spokesman didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Automobile sales in India were weathering a slump before the coronavirus pandemic, with at least half a million jobs lost. A lobby group has predicted it may take as many as four years for sales to return to levels seen before the slowdown.

The biggest players are the local units of Suzuki and Hyundai Motor Co., which have cornered the market for compact, affordable cars. Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. and Hyundai Motor India Ltd. have a combined share of almost 70%.

Toyota in India has largely pivoted toward hybrid vehicles, which attract taxes of as much as 43% because they aren't purely electric.

Hybrid vehicles in India attract taxes of as much as 43% and all of Toyota's electrified vehicles in India are hybrids

But in a nation where few can even afford a car, let alone a more environmentally friendly one, EVs or their hybrid cousins have yet to gain much acceptance. Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla Inc., has saidimport duties would make his vehicles unaffordable in India.

"Market India always has to precede Factory India, and this is something the politicians and bureaucrats don't understand," Viswanathan said. Modi's much-touted Make in India is another program aimed at attracting foreign companies.

India needs to have demand for a product before asking firms to set up shop, yet "at the slightest sign of a product doing well, they slap it with a higher and higher tax rate," he said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk qualifies for massive $2.1 billion payday

PALO ALTO (California), July 22: Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk qualified on Tuesday for a payout worth an unprecedented $2.1 billion, his second jackpot since May from the electric car maker following its massive stock surge.

Tesla's stock was down 3% in afternoon trading, eroding a recent rally that has elevated the company's market capitalization to almost $300 billion, larger than any other carmaker.

Despite Tuesday's stock dip, and importantly for Musk's personal finances, Tesla’s six-month average market capitalization for the first time has reached $150 billion. That triggers the vesting of the second of 12 tranches of options granted to the billionaire in his 2018 pay package to buy Tesla stock at a discount. Musk, who is also majority owner and CEO of the SpaceX rocket maker, receives no salary.

Even with Tuesday's decline in Tesla's stock, its six-month average market capitalization rose, thanks to the stock's strong rally in recent months.

In early May, Musk’s first tranche vested after Tesla’s six-month average stock market value reached $100 billion.

Musk has already achieved targets related to Tesla’s financial growth that are also required in order to vest the latest options tranche.

Each tranche gives Musk the option to buy 1.69 million Tesla shares at $350.02 each, less than a quarter of their current price. At Tesla’s current stock price of $1,594, Musk would theoretically be able to sell the shares related to the tranche that vested in May and the current tranche for a combined profit of $4.2 billion, or almost $2.1 billion per tranche.

Musk’s first tranche was worth about $700 million in May, when it vested, but its value has since increased along with Tesla’s stock price.

The median compensation for Tesla employees last year was about $58,000, according to a company filing.

Tesla's stock has surged more than 500% over the past year as the company increased sales of its Model 3 sedan.

Following higher-than-expected second-quarter vehicle deliveries, some investors believe Tesla might report a profit in its second-quarter report on Wednesday after the bell. That would mark four consecutive profitable quarters, a first for Tesla and a key hurdle for it to be added to the S&P 500 index .

Analysts on average expect a $240 million loss for the quarter, according to Refinitiv. A month ago, analysts expected a loss of almost $340 million.




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